March 13, 2009, 12:32 PM — Now that I'm back from Las Vegas to a last-gasp March cold snap in Texas, it's time to wrap up my days at the last ever ManageFusion, the Altiris user group conference. Next year, ManageFusion and the Altiris products will be part of the Symantec Vision conference. Let's hope the high energy level and enthusiasm of ManageFusion carries over to the combined events. A keynote with a live band onstage tells you right away this is no boring PowerPoint overloaded snoozefest with suited VPs droning on.
More Symantec executives appeared in the keynote presentations than in years past, which makes sense. Symantec has done a good job of welcoming Altiris products, employees, and customers the past two years. Putting some of their top execs on display at ManageFusion helps that transition.
Altiris 7 beta customers trotted out and said nice things, as one would expect. But when a long time grocery chain customer IT manager says they manage about 60,000 devices with a staff of five IT techs, you start to understand the real value of solid desktop and server management. Add in the new Workflow tools that let you automate an enormous number of tasks without the need for anyone to touch a keyboard, and you understand how you can run a huge network with a limited number or techs.
The mood among attendees seemed pretty good. I overheard several conversations about big deals pitched and purchased recently. One common tactic seemed to be rolling the cost of three years worth of support into the purchase price upfront. After all, you don't want to go back asking for money next year, just in case things haven't turned around yet. And you can't let support slide with security products, because patches never stop because the malware never stops.
Painful statistics includes the fact that 90 percent of exploits happen to systems with a patch already in the field. More painful is that the patches are at least six months old. The old quote was “you snooze, you lose.” Now it's “you snooze, you become a zombie PC.”
Speaking of Altiris 7 beta customers, one of them is the Fender musical instrument company, makers of some of the world's best and most popular guitars and amplifiers. They presented Symantec with a white Stratocaster with a Symantec logo, a one-off custom guitar. The Altiris corporate band, ManageThis, used it at the pool party on Wednesday night. Here's to the last ManageFusion, and here's hoping the good management and good music continue as part of the Symantec family.