Analyst Review: Network Computing

There are plenty of endpoint management products available, but over time many have become unwieldy to use, expensive to own and time consuming to deploy. Verismic Software offers a more elegant solution as its Syxsense is proactively managed from the cloud using a web browser.

It also offers excellent value with charges based on the number of devices being managed. This flexibility is good because most competing solutions use rigid licensing models based on a banded number of nodes.

CMS provides a complete set of management tools for Microsoft platforms. These include device discovery, hardware and software inventory, patch management, software distribution, license monitoring and compliance reporting. It is designed to scale from 3 to 3,000 endpoints, it doesn’t require on-premises hosts or dedicated hardware and all generated data is securely stored at Verismic’s distributed data centres. Another welcome, even unique feature of CMS is that it only requires a single agent at each site.

The CMS portal is well designed and provides a wizard to deploy VREP (Virtual Representative) which is a small footprint agent that is loaded onto just one Windows system. Once deployed it establishes a secure encrypted connection between the network and the cloud service. The VREP takes its instructions from the CMS portal and handles all discovery and distribution by pushing a ‘dissolving’ client to each endpoint: so called because it removes itself on completion. CMS inventory scans take around six minutes per system and gather an impressive amount of information.

CMS uses a colour code system in the portal to highlight systems that haven’t responded for a while. After a defined period, CMS automatically archives and removes these from the main view with the added bonus that costs go down as they’re no longer under management.

The portal is divided into three sections with the left pane listing all managed systems which can be placed in groups, for example different sites. CMS comes into its own here as MSPs and businesses with multiple sites can manage everything from one portal. Maintenance windows define periods during which scans are allowed to run. These can also be used to control patch management and software distribution where they will wake all systems up, run the task, and then shut them down again.

For software distribution Verismic maintains all packages on the CMS cloud servers. At the appointed time, CMS instructs the VREP to push the dissolving client out to each system which then downloads the package from cloud and deploys it. The clever bit here is CMS’s file level streaming, which uses peer-to-peer technology to copy the install package from one system to another within the site. This means the package is only sent once from the cloud, reducing WAN traffic.

The same principles apply to patch management. This has two phases where systems are scanned to find out what’s missing, and the results are used to deploy the correct critical updates and patches. Task schedules can be viewed from the CMS Planner where an Outlook style calendar shows clearly what is scheduled for the chosen period. If conflicts are spotted the tasks can be simply dragged to a different time or day.

Reporting is very detailed and you can use custom gadgets to show status overviews in the portal for all CMS functions. Reports on any area of interest can be run manually, scheduled at regular intervals or emailed to multiple recipients.

CMS is a refreshing new approach to endpoint management which does away with the excess baggage associated with traditional solutions. Its agent-less technology makes it very easy to deploy and Verismic’s simple pricing model allows costs to be managed.