Viewfinity launches cloud computing systems management
Q&A: Viewfinity's president on the company's new management suite that uses virtualization and takes systems and privilege management into the cloud
Systems management startup Viewfinity announced the availability of an updated suite of management products that help differentiate the company by taking advantage of two of today's most interesting and cost-saving technologies: virtualization and cloud computing.
The company's new cloud computing model offers cost-effective and easy-to-use systems and privilege management solution for laptops, desktops, and servers. And it provides management support for both in-house and mobile workforces.
To help grow the company and allow it to scale, Viewfinity also announced that it has secured a $9 million Series B-round of funding from Giza Venture Capital, JK&B Capital, and Longworth Venture Partners.
To find out more about this cloud-based management solution, I was able to speak with Gil Rapaport, Viewfinity's president.
InfoWorld: Your company is introducing the concept of bringing systems management into the cloud. Can you tell us why you're taking that position and explain what you've done that makes it really that easy to use?
Gil Rapaport: If you look at the evolution of systems management so far, it started with tools like Microsoft SMS, Altiris, LANdesk, and a few other legacy applications. These systems are costly to implement, costly to manage, and complex to use. Improvements came by the way of appliance-based solutions, but those still required a capital investment in infrastructure and operations, as well as license costs. With our cloud-computing software platform, the software can be quickly and easily installed and ready for evaluation. IT departments can turn their focus to managing computers to meet their business needs instead of focusing on the management platform. We make it extremely cost effective and easy for IT to support local and mobile workers. And our approach delivers value quickly, scales with business need, and eliminates the cost of in-house implementations.
InfoWorld: Your team has a strong foundation in virtualization. Tell us why that's so important and how you're leveraging that background as you take your strategy higher into the systems management realm.
Rapaport: Viewfinity has a unique method of encapsulation we call on-the-fly virtualization. This is a process that doesn't require application pre-packaging or change the infrastructure or desktop usage environment. It's also completely transparent to the end-user -- zero change to the end-user experience. Basically, we believe we have an ideal application and desktop virtualization solution for the IT administrator and end-user. Encapsulation is done at the endpoint (encapsulates existing applications or new deployments), and with the agent installed on the PC and through a basic Internet connection, it seamlessly communicates with our cloud platform, providing the ability to better support mobile workers. We have two patents pending to protect this unique technology.
With this underlying technology, we transform the model from management of the computer as a whole to management of the conglomerate of applications. As an example, with our IT support feature, Activity Recording, you can filter the significant events of each application, watch a screen-recorded "movie" clip of the PC events, and even rollback (or "undo") the action that has caused problems.
InfoWorld: What size of company could realistically bring its systems management into the cloud, and who do you compete with most heavily?
Rapaport: Viewfinity isn't necessarily a small company play, although it could manage any implementation from a small number of users on up to several thousand users. The real beauty of the market position is that we don't really have to compete against anybody -- in a new installation, Viewfinity could replace the entire need to put a classic hardware/software management infrastructure in place. If a traditional (or "legacy") system like Altiris or LANDesk is already in place, Viewfinity is a smooth and simple way to add urgently needed functionality such as management for mobile workers (IT's biggest headache right now), Win7 upgrades, a quick path to privilege management, etc., and then can stand at the ready to take progressively more of the systems management functions into the cloud. It's a wonderful place for us to be -- far less expensive and smoother to put in place than even the plug-and-play appliance approaches to systems management on the market today.
InfoWorld: Speaking of traditional or "legacy" systems management options, I notice that Greg Butterfield, former CEO of Altiris, has joined your board and that Altiris' former CTO Dwain Kinghorn is now part of your Advisory Council as well. Can you tell us a little more about how they will be directly involved in Viewfinity's strategy and growth going forward?
Rapaport: We believe the addition of Greg Butterfield and Dwain Kinghorn to our extended team speaks volumes. That is also true for the other industry icons that have joined our new Advisory Council. The ability to attract and appoint these leaders validates our credibility and presence in the market. Greg, Dwain, and the members of our advisory council will provide insight and direction regarding Viewfinity's vision and its strategy for executing that vision, as well as technology and product guidance as we expand our offerings into the systems management marketplace. Their existing field of connections in every sector ranging from investors to industry partners, to channel participants and key services throughout the world can help to shorten the cycle it takes to make us a strong global leader and a pervasive force in the systems management sector by as much as two to three years.
InfoWorld: Which systems management functions do you consider to be the most obvious to bring into the cloud? And which are more complicated?
Rapaport: Viewfinity's ability to reach mobile workers is the function that has had the greatest impact on our customers and prospects thus far. This is a problem that all companies have, regardless of size. For green fields, we're able to provide the ability to manage and control all of the company's desktops and laptops at the application level from a standard Web interface, wherever they reside. For larger organizations, with our browser-driven interface, we can operate side-by-side with more traditional systems, to fill the gap where needed to reach mobile workers and to provide remote support and propagate privilege management policies. In particular, we've found our software deployment capabilities especially useful for reaching workers who don't regularly connect to the corporate network. Corporations are often utilizing the Viewfinity platform as the distribution point to deploy software packages.
InfoWorld: I understand part of your go-to-market strategy includes a "freemium-based" component. How does this play into your overall business strategy?
Rapaport: As with most freemium products, our free components are meant to offer value and to entice. Once IT administrators use our product, they will immediately realize the benefits. Viewfinity's cloud-computing model offers a much lower barrier to entry because we provide the infrastructure. It's easy to continue using Viewfinity to increase the number of desktops that are being managed. The cloud delivery model, coupled with the ever growing base of mobile workers, positions us nicely in the marketplace. Offering unlimited use for up to 50 PCs helps IT administrators get comfortable with the product and apply it to their environment before rolling out mainstream. And then they will typically tell their colleagues about us, which supports their confidence in the product.
InfoWorld: Where do you hope and intend the market for cloud-based systems management to be a year from now? And what is the role you hope Viewfinity will play in helping to drive that charge?
Rapaport: We believe we're already driving the charge. More adoption and use of cloud-based software is going to reaffirm and strengthen the direction the market is moving. When companies can be more productive immediately and can do that with the help of a systems management solution that doesn't required specialized IT experience or the need to purchase and install a management server, we believe cloud-based systems management will become a natural and increasingly prevalent trend.
Once again, I'd like to thank Gil Rapaport, president of Viewfinity, for taking time out and speaking with me.
This story, "Viewfinity launches cloud computing systems management," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.