Cloud Q&A: Viewfinity Centers in on the Cloud

Viewfinity focused on making its privilege management technology a native cloud service. Last in a series of cloud Q&A interviews.

Doug Barney talked with Viewfinity CEO Leonid Shtilman about the company's focus on making its privilege management technology work natively as a cloud service. Last in a series of conversations with companies transitioning their tools to the cloud.

How different or similar is it to the on-premises tool?
Most on-premise tools are delivered as a GPO snap-in, or the privileges are managed through scripts in AD. Due to our cloud-hosted platform model, we are able to more easily support multiple AD forests/domains from a single console and mobile and non-domain end users. The customer also has the ability to run reports and propagate policies in real time.

Due to the ability to deliver our product via a cloud-based platform, our solution does not require laptops or desktops to be part of the Active Directory domain or to be directly connected to the corporate network in order to activate policies that manage administrator privileges. As soon as the PC connects to the internet, Viewfinity delivers the policies and rules established by the IT administrator. Once delivered, all policies continue to be enforced even while working offline.

What did it take to make the move to the cloud?
Prior to Windows 7, many organizations did not consider application control/privilege management products. Now as part of Windows 7 desktop refresh, many companies have removed administrator rights and are now faced with issues related to the inability to install/run approved applications, ActiveX controls, changing certain Windows settings, UAC password prompt dialog boxes, etc. The issues are even more painful for organizations with traveling users and for those who must enforce compliance regulations. Thus, for many organizations, these pain points brought up a new opportunity to consider third-party solutions to help resolve these problems. Viewfinity was specifically architected to operate on a cloud-based platform.

Our focus was to build a cloud-based product so we could enable our customers to utilize the solution and gain immediate benefit and let us worry about how the servers that provide solutions are set up and configured. We, as the supplier of the solution in the cloud, do all the work to design the architecture and implement the rollout of the servers. The expertise of the deployment and monitoring of the hosted servers is amortized over a large number of systems across multiple customers.

How does a customer make the transition?
As a solution provider, we can easily transition customers who are using an existing privilege management solution, usually a GPO snap-in based implementation, because we provide the entire infrastructure. We simply import their existing policies using an XML format into our solution and deploy our agent onto the endpoints. This can be done via their existing deployment software package via MSI packaging or we offer several deployment options including via e-mail.

Is there interoperability?
Our Privilege Management features are integrated with Active Directory. However, Viewfinity does not require laptops or desktops to be part of the Active Directory domain or to be directly connected to the corporate network in order to activate policies that manage administrator privileges. Communication between agents and the server is done over encrypted SSL tunneling. Agents are set up to listen for new policies or updates. As soon as the PC connects to the Internet, Viewfinity delivers the policies and rules established by the IT administrator. Once delivered, all policies continue to be enforced even while working offline.

What has been the customer reaction?
This is best said in our customer's (Brian Grinstead, IT Support and Systems Management, Indian Prairie School District) own words :

"Viewfinity's Software as a Service model meant IT operations avoided the cost of having to procure additional servers or fit the project into any server implementation plan. The applications management team didn't need to involve resources from the other IT departments in the project. The fact that they were able to get up and running easily by utilizing the Viewfinity SaaS model proved to be extremely cost efficient and effective."

What are the economic advantages?
Customers no longer have to focus on the management, maintenance and operations of the solution platform. The cloud approach delivers immediate and long-term value, scales with business need, and eliminates the equipment, training, and substantially higher costs of on-premise implementations. Cloud-based solutions provide immediate IT value by having an entire systems management solution up and running in minutes. Simply stated, Viewfinity's cloud-based solution allows the IT department to effectively secure its endpoints and lessen user productivity issues, and allows the business to thrive in an aggressively changing technological ecosystem.

Based on this experience, are you doing more cloud work?
To date, over 60 percent of our customer base has implemented the product via our SaaS/Cloud platform. It continues to serve as a major differentiator from our competitors due to the cost-savings in infrastructure and ability to support non-domain and mobile workers. Note: Viewfinity Privilege Management can be implemented as a GPO snap-in, through our SaaS/Cloud platform or via on-premise servers as part of a private cloud.

What is the best compliment you've heard from customers?
There are a number of customer stories and quotes we can share but I believe the greatest compliment we have heard from our customers is the 95 percent renewal rate that we experienced from 2011 into 2012. This speaks volumes to the value our customers receive by using our solution.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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