The product supports several different operating systems, including Windows, UNIX, Linux, Mac and others. The suite consists of a server manager, console, deployment tool and web reporting tool, and is used throughout the enterprise to enforce policy and to manage configurations for workstation and server hosts.
The product installs on Windows 2000/2003 and uses the Microsoft SQL backend. It automatically installs Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) if it doesn't detect MS SQL, which is a nice touch.
The console runs on any Windows desktop, and the agents used to manage assets can be deployed across a wide variety of platforms. We had a tiny gripe during the install: to ensure we had permissions to deploy the product securely required the constant loading and exporting of license files and keys. Security is emphasized to the degree of 'lockdown' in this system, for sure.
There is a slight learning curve needed to adjust to some of the true meanings behind the terminology used by the product, which includes Fixlet messages, subscriptions, tasks, wizards, analysis and a host of other tabs and links to click.
After becoming acclimated to the product, it's easy to see that the solution is highly scalable and contains several components for managing patches, network access control, vulnerabilities (SANS top 20), asset discovery and more.
The solution is truly task driven and contains so many features that it's easy to get a bit lost in the administration at first. Overall, the product performed very well, and over time we found the Fixlet messages to be informative, helping us manage the solution in an effective manner.
As we moved through adding policies and disseminating them to our assets, the system felt a bit intrusive. It asks you for your private key password every time you want to authorise a change. We were able to overlook this once we imported several pre-canned subscription templates designed to manage everything from anti-virus signatures to NAC.
The array of platforms and items you can manage is very impressive, and deploying them to groups of machines is fairly easy to accomplish. Reporting and remediation mechanisms are thorough, and ultimately we found this to be a very robust policy management system with nice integration features as well.
Documentation for the solution is excellent, including some nice guides that walk you through some of the features of the product. The BigFix support site contains a customer form and knowledge base.
Pricing for BES is based on a subscription model, which includes standard support. Subscription pricing starts at $5 per managed workstation or US$15 per managed server. Premium support is available.
Even for a high number of devices, we feel this is a good value for many customers looking for a more advanced policy management solution with lots of features and control.
For: Extensive feature set. Competitive cost given the capabilities. Against: Interface can be a little busy at times. Steeper learning curve for some administrators. Verdict: Represents a great value given the number of platforms that it supports. We recognize this product with SC Magazine Recommended.