Most companies nowadays have complex IT landscapes. According to a survey by IDC, server market growth between the spring and the third quarter of 2010 was the highest it has been in seven years, with market researchers recording growth of around 11%. Add to this the current trend towards virtualisation and it becomes clear that there have never been so many servers in existence as there are today. Never before have so many new servers been put into operation. There is, however, currently no identifiable trend in favour of a single operating system. While around 45% of major corporations’ server expenses flow into Windows, the rest are divided between Linux and the still-strongly-represented UNIX systems. In small and medium-sized companies, Linux file or print servers are often found among the Windows servers. Large companies and government agencies often prefer to keep entire departments Windows-free, or to migrate their operations entirely to one system. Therefore, in server environments, variety is the order of the day.
Desktops in Microsoft’s Hand
Things are clearer, but not yet unequivocal, when it comes to desktops. In the corporate sector, just as in the private sector, Microsoft is King. Many companies are currently switching from Windows XP to Windows 7, as they were extremely cautious about implementing Windows Vista. The fact that Windows has around 90% of the market share does not, however, mean that the rest should go unprotected. In most companies, for example, Linux computers are standard issue for programmers, just as Macs are for creative departments. The bottom line, therefore, is that the average company runs a mixture of operating systems on servers and clients.
Complete Protection for All Systems
If you have a complex IT infrastructure in your company, you should at least deploy a unified security solution which runs on all your operating systems. This reduces complexity. Instead of combining multiple solutions from different manufacturers, combination products that protect all systems offer a number of advantages. One of these, of course, is that companies are not limited in their choice of platform. A security solution which, for example, supports only Windows as a file server operating system, would prevent cheaper Linux network storage units from being used in corporations. It would also mean that government agencies and other companies would not be able to pursue their Linux strategies.
Support for Old and New
What are the most important considerations when purchasing protective software for heterogeneous environments? It is important that the protective systems support all systems used, not just most of them. This also, for example, includes what are known as legacy systems: systems which have been in use for years. One example is Novell Netware. Despite the fact that support for the final version ceased in March 2010, many companies still use it and need appropriate protection for it. It is also important, however, that the very latest operating systems are supported, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 on the server side, or Windows 7 on the client side. Protection must be flexible enough to support all types of configurations, such as Terminal Server, clustering, virtual machines and the specific requirements of servers customised to perform particular roles. When protecting database servers it is, for example, important that protective software is capable of handling large loads and is easily scalable.
Management via an Interface
The aim of security software is simple: it’s designed to provide productive systems with effective protection against threats. This applies, for example, to fi le servers on all platforms. It should, therefore, enable all systems, irrespective of their operating system, to be managed via a single interface. This reduces the complexity of the administrator’s role. It is also useful to have other ways to manage security software in addition to administration software, such as a web frontend, integration with Microsoft’s Management Console, or administration via a command line interface.
Standard and Custom Configurations
The perfect protective software covers both the basic functions, such as real-time protection in virus scanners, and custom functions that are tailored specifically to the underlying systems. Administrators therefore require flexible options in order to control tasks like targeted malware scans. This enables them to schedule time-consuming malware scans to be performed at night, leaving performance resources available for peak load times. And while we’re on the subject of performance: protective solutions for heterogeneous systems must be easily scalable in order to prevent them from becoming bottlenecks in dynamic IT environments. Add harmonised reporting to the mix, and you have the perfect protective solution for a heterogeneous network.
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