From The Expert Feature Article
May 11, 2015

Modernizing Enterprise Security & Management with Agentless Software

By TMCnet Special Guest
Ashley Leonard, President of Verismic Software

Staying one step ahead of security threats and effective systems management is serious business, especially for enterprise IT managers who are tasked with maintaining system and data integrity for multiple endpoints in multiple locations. 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. This led to the development of agentless, cloud-based solutions that accomplish more for less.

IT managers can minimize risk and create an enterprise environment that offers security as well as user convenience with agentless, cloud-based endpoint and enterprise security management.

What does agentless mean?

An agent is software that runs on a system with the primary purpose of collecting information and pushing it over the network to a central location. With the advent of cloud-based endpoint management, this process can now be accomplished more efficiently and cost effectively with an agentless approach. Agentless generally means collecting data from computers without installing any new agents on them, using software that is already installed on the computer. The primary benefit of the agentless approach is that installing, upgrading and maintaining additional software programs to collect data from each machine is not necessary. While this is the basic concept, agentless does still require some installation on the targeted machine or machines to do its work. Cloud-based, agentless solutions offer even more flexibility because organizations can manage their enterprises from anywhere in the world, almost instantly, with the click of a Web browser.

What’s the drawback to using agents? 

Over time, systems management platforms have always had one major drawback; not only do you have to maintain the server and endpoints, but those agents need to be synchronized with the host server to be able to perform tasks and meet full functionality requirements. Many administrators will tell you that this is a priority "housekeeping" task that does tend to be endless and must be monitored closely. Agentless, Web-based solutions help reduce IT complexity and allow organizations of any size to monitor and manage their environments and proactively manage enterprise systems from the cloud from anywhere simply using a Web browser.

How switching to agentless will modernize enterprise security & management

Simply put, agentless solutions can do everything an agent-driven management system can do, but for less money and in much less time. Agentless products provide a complete set of management tools for platforms like Microsoft (News - Alert) and more. These include device discovery, hardware and software inventory, remote control, patch management, software distribution and detailed reporting. Agentless, cloud-based endpoint management solutions are designed to serve enterprises with just a few endpoints up to large organizations with thousands of endpoints. Because they are agentless and managed in the cloud, they don't always require on-premise hosts or dedicated hardware. Agentless solutions can also store generated data securely off-premises at a vendor’s distributed data center.

While the main function is agentless, a single agent, or virtual representative, may be installed inside an enterprise’s firewall, effectively managing the system using minimal space, some even disappearing after they’ve done their work. Cloud-based, agentless endpoint management solutions can come with this virtual representative, which is a small footprint agent that is deployed by a wizard onto just one system. Once deployed, the virtual representative establishes a secure encrypted connection between the network and the cloud service. The virtual representative takes its instructions from the cloud-based Web portal and handles all discovery and distribution by pushing a “dissolving” client to each endpoint. The client is described as “dissolving” because it removes itself upon completion.

Quality and efficiency of agentless solutions

Devices that are off the network for a period of time, for whatever reason, will fall out-of date, bogging down the management system and inviting security risk to the enterprise. Cloud-based, agentless technology negates the need for this process as only devices on the network are targeted, freeing up the administrators’ time to continue with other projects.  Each time a new client is discovered, the required task is run and when complete, the client dissolves leaving no footprint. Cloud-based, agentless endpoint management solutions can provide file level streaming, which uses the enterprise’s own network devices to copy the software or patches from one system to another within the network. This means the package is only sent once from the cloud to the network, dramatically cutting WAN traffic. Ideally, a cloud-based, agentless endpoint management solution should complete inventory scans and gather a detailed amount of information in just a few minutes per system while preserving system efficiency.

Agentless, cloud-based endpoint management allows IT departments to focus on managing their IT environments by reducing time-intensive, mundane tasks and eliminating dependencies on cumbersome agent-driven management tools. Cloud-based, agentless solutions require only a Web browser and a dissolvable client, or target user device, to take near-instant remote control of end-user devices from anywhere, simply and efficiently through a Web browser. Cloud-based, agentless solutions are moving the vital process of enterprise security and systems management forward in the modern world for any organization. 

About the Author: Ashley Leonard is the president and CEO of Verismic Software—a global industry leader providing cloud-based IT management technology and green solutions—and a technology entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in enterprise software, sales, operational leadership and marketing, including nearly two decades as a successful senior corporate executive and providing critical leadership during high-growth stages of well-known technology industry pioneers. He founded Verismic in 2012, after successfully selling his former company, NetworkD (News - Alert)—an infrastructure management software organization. In his present role, Leonard manages U.S., Australian and European operations, defines corporate strategies, oversees sales and marketing, and guides product development. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino