IBM is to launch software that lets customers manage multivendor desktop security agents via a single console. This would enable users to choose from a broader range of security products without adding to the management complexity claimed the company.


Proventia Endpoint Secure Control (ESC) has been designed to support software security clients for multiple vendors in four areas: system protection, data protection, configuration management and system maintenance.

Initially, Proventia ESC will support anti-virus software from TrendMicro that can be deployed on the ESC agent and fully managed via the ESC management platform, but IBM says it plans to add more vendors and more products over time. Proventia ESC can also manage security applications that are part of the IBM Proventia Desktop.

The platform has designed as an alternative to static desktop security suites by the likes of McAfee and Symantec that lack the flexibility to pick and choose which vendors supply, for instance, anti-virus software and which provide personal firewalls.

Last month, Check Point introduced a similar modular approach to network security that supports an a la carte selection of security applications, but it supports only Check Point products.

Proventia ESC grew out of a desire to provide an alternative for businesses that want to deploy multiple security agents on each desktop or laptop.

They could buy multiple products from multiple vendors and manage them via their multiple consoles, a complicated choice involving training on the various management platforms. Or they could buy a security suite made by a single vendor that gives them a single management platform but no choice about the individual applications.

Proventia ESC will allow a third choice using different vendors to supply each application but not requiring new management software for each one.

At the outset, the platform will manage Proventia Desktop applications and Trend's anti-virus. It will support deployment of Verdasys data loss protection and PGP's encryption software out of the box, but management support for them comes later.

Long-term, all the applications Proventia ESC supports will be manageable under the same console.

IBM believes that as new classes of threats emerge that require new defensive applications, that its modular architecture will enable launching the new defences more quickly. Startups that have traditionally sprung up around new threats will be able to partner with IBM to deploy their wares on Proventia ESC, gaining access to an established customer base without having to set up marketing and channel partners on their own in order to generate revenue.

Customers that have endpoint security suites would have to wait for their vendors to adopt these new defensive platforms or buy a separate product, which would defeat the purpose of buying a suite in the first place, IBM says.

The software could also provide a way to automate desktop defences against threats discovered via the IBM X-Force security intelligence service, which reports to customers about new threats it discovers. Rather than just reporting, X-Force could recommend configuration changes that could provisioned within Proventia ESC and pushed to each workstation, IBM says.

Proventia ESC could also identify those machines susceptible to new threats via its ability to gather and analyze near real-time data about endpoint configuration.

Proventia ESC will be available in April and pricing has not been set.