If you haven’t heard, IBM has entered into an agreement to sell BigFix (along with other IBM products) to HCL (https://www.hcl.com) for $1.8B. If approved by the regulatory committees, the deal is expected to close June/July 2019. Purchases by clients can be guaranteed through June 1st, 2019.
There are a variety of short-term, as well as long-term, changes that will happen due to this deal. Spoiler alert – these are all GOOD things for BigFix customers.
What is BigFix?
BigFix is an industry-leading set of enterprise-class configuration state management tools for your Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix environments. A rock-solid set of tools that gather a tremendous amount of live data in near real-time from managed systems, inside and outside of the network.
- Do you need to patch 3 dozen different flavors of operating systems this afternoon? No problem!
- Do you need to harden all of your devices automatically? No problem!
- Do you need to track inventory license compliance? No problem!
BigFix simply gives you the ability to ensure systems are always configured exactly as you need them —inside or outside of the network. This is all done from a single agent, with all agent communications flowing over a network single port. Oh, and the agent doesn’t break. As a customer, I have used a LOT of tools over the years, and BigFix is by far the most powerful and reliable out there.
CBI is a full-service BigFix shop delivering technical pre-sales work, sales, post-sales support, implementations, customizations, etc. We also offer Co-Managed BigFix services to customers where we manage as little or as much of their BigFix environment as needed. We do this from our 24-7 SOC in Ferndale, MI. CBI has invested heavily in our BigFix partnership, with deep relationships in sales, pre-sales technical, executive, support, development, product offering, professional services, lab services, channel, etc. We know the right buttons to push and wheels to turn with IBM’s BigFix team.
CBI is currently a strategic security partner with IBM, and we will transition the BigFix portion of that relationship to HCL. I have spent the last few months meeting with a wide variety of stakeholders in the BigFix world. Some have already transitioned to HCL. Some are waiting to be tapped. Some will be placed into new roles with BigFix. CBI will continue to be on the short-list of go-to BigFix partners as the tools transition to HCL.
What does this mean for support?
When a tool that you heavily rely upon for securing your environment is being sold, someone in your organization is bound to get jittery. HCL entered into IP Partnership contract with IBM in December 2017 and took over support and code development of BigFix at that time. The majority of folks involved in L2/L3 and support as well as development left IBM to join the HCL team as part of that agreement. Since that time, anyone that has interacted with the senior levels of support over the last year has already been dealing with HCL support. I have been told that quality of support feedback from BigFix customers has gone up 25%. If you take a step back and look at what happened when IBM acquired BigFix in 2010, this is very similar. Same folks. Same roles. Just a new email address. There are many BigFix employees at HCL who were part of the original BigFix team.
Short-term — What does this mean?
For customers, this is a fantastic thing. It is truly a buyer’s market. IBM will approve significant discounts for BigFix deals that close prior to June 1st, 2019. If you are working with strategic partners like CBI, we can move those discounts to extreme discounts with no effort at all. Our job is to find you the best deal possible. In short, for any new licenses, license true-ups, reinstatements, expansions, etc. related to BigFix, if the customer can issue a PO by June 1st, pricing is truly in their favor.
This applies to new customers as well. Anyone moving to BigFix can jump on the same discounts. For government customers that leverage the G2G Marketplace (https://www.g2gmarket.com), CBI recently won an RFP to sell and implement BigFix in Oakland County, MI. BigFix sales and professional services will soon be available on that government marketplace through CBI, without having to go through the RFP process.
Long-Term – What does this mean?
This acquisition is great for the BigFix tools in general. IBM did a good job of advancing the stability and functionality of the tools and helped expose them to a much broader audience. HCL will take that much further. I have seen the official roadmap and have had a variety of private conversations about BigFix with folks in future senior and executive roles with BigFix. HCL will invest heavily in the BigFix platform. They have added development headcount since they acquired rights to code development and have already approved a significant increase in additional development headcount. The roadmap is robust. When the acquisition closes, we will find out the full details on future product functionality. We will also find out if HCL plans on changing the licensing and pricing models. IBM did a good job of making that more complicated than it needed to be, and I expect HCL to “right the ship” on that one.
If you are an existing BigFix customer needing additional licenses, or a potential customer looking to purchase the tools in the near future, you should get your budget in order and buy now. You have a window of a few months where you are completely in the driver’s seat. CBI will do everything we can to get you the best possible pricing for these tools. CBI also has a wide variety of creative options available to help customers that might not have budget available immediately. We love crazy ideas. Really. Again, I don’t know what the future holds for BigFix pricing, but I know we can get deals approved today that would have been laughed at in the past.
The tools aren’t going anywhere. They will continue to receive significant funding for expansion and enhancements of the toolset. Someone in a key leadership position recently told me that the plan is to listen to the customers to see what they want the tools to do, rather than relying on market analysts to tell them what the tools should do. HCL is going to put the BigFix band back together and the future is bright.