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Altiris to showcase patch management at MMS

Altiris plans to use the Microsoft Management Summit as a forum to highlight its strategy for patch management and vulnerability assessment across the Windows and Unix/Linux platforms.

Add Altiris Inc. to the parade of manageability software manufacturers that plan to make patch management and security the centerpiece of their message at the Microsoft Management Summit next week.

Altiris, which is also a co-sponsor of the summit, will lay out a strategy for patch management and vulnerability assessment across the Windows and Unix/Linux platforms. Altiris' Patch Management Solution will be available by the third quarter of this year and will be included with the Altiris Client Management Suite and Server Management Suite, company executives said.

Greg Butterfield, CEO, Altiris

The software will cover Windows and third-party applications, as well as Linux and Unix systems and applications, said Greg Butterfield, chief executive officer at Altiris, which is based in Lindon, Utah.

Altiris has had a bright year, despite the bleak high-tech climate. It was one of the few software companies to go public in 2002. It claimed about 42 customer deals valued at more than $100 million in 2002. Though Altiris sells software to manage non-Windows platforms, most of its sales are to the enterprise Windows market.

Today, about half of Altiris' annual revenue is from enterprise accounts where the company is mostly selling extensions to other manageability systems, including Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS), and to branch offices. The other half of its revenue comes from selling into medium-sized companies, Butterfield said. The company has also forged strategic partnerships with Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp.

Butterfield said Altiris has an advantage over some other manageability vendors in that it has no legacy products to support, so it can be quicker to market. He said the company released about 100 products and upgrades to existing products in 2002.

Altiris has carefully positioned itself as a partner to Microsoft. However, some of Altiris' large customers, such as Cinergy Corp. and Abbott Laboratories, use its software as their main manageability platform for Windows. Altiris sells its own notification server that does not require SMS.

Other customers use Altiris as an adjunct to SMS, but agree there is no question that Altiris couldn't handle what SMS does and more. Jack Nielsen, senior systems engineer at Ashland Inc., a Covington, Ky., energy company, said his company uses Altiris' mobile client to link remote users to the corporate network and Microsoft's SMS.

Ashland is using SMS 2.0 and plans to eventually upgrade to SMS 2003, which is expected to offer improved mobile client support. The company didn't choose Altiris initially because it already had SMS installed. He said, however, he likes the fact that Altiris uses XML to transmit data back and forth. "I have no qualms with the technology at all. In fact, it's superior to SMS 2.0," he said.

David Friedlander, an analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., said of Altiris' closest competitors, which include Novadigm Inc., Marimba Inc. and LANDesk Software Inc., Altiris has the broadest set of functions, particularly because of the migration and recovery tools in its portfolio, Friedlander said.

Microsoft's biggest drawback right now is that SMS is only useful on the Windows platform. "There are not that many companies that are that Microsoft-centric," he said.


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