Small businesses want to take their company to the next level, increasing their customer base while also increasing revenues. But every small business also has to make sure that computers in their organization are secure. For a small business this is a tough task as some either don't have a full-time IT resource, or the resources they do have are stretched extremely thin. That's without mentioning the high cost of consultants. This has led to organizations looking for ways to become more efficient, not only with their budget, but also with the IT resources they have. This is where SaaS offerings come in. Investing in Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions has enabled small businesses to reduce their administrative, hardware, and power consumption costs.
Security vendor Panda, has recently announced a new SaaS security solution targeted at small businesses, Panda Managed Office Protection (PMOP). The product is an endpoint security solution, offering the typical antivirus and firewall protection for desktops, laptops, and even servers in your organization. The SaaS part of the solution is the management infrastructure, as you don't have to worry about installing servers to manage the database, reporting, or administrative functions. The management infrastructure and administrative interface is all in the cloud.
The PMOP endpoint protection agent will run on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2003, Windows 2008, and even Windows Embedded Point of Sale (WePOS). The support matrix mentions support for VMWare virtualization, but no mention of Virtual PC or Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V support. With the growing popularity of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, support for Hyper-V virtualization must come very soon.
For this article, I installed PMOP in the lab running on Windows Vista Ultimate. Setup was a breeze. Panda offers two options for the deployment of endpoint agents: either users can do the install, or through a silent distribution method that does not require user intervention. As is the trend these days, installation of PMOP will uninstall several competitive solutions if present on the machine. This is essential, as uninstalling security technologies is a big hassle.
Management of PMOP is very simple with all administrative functions being performed from Panda's secure Web site. From there, you can create groupings for machines in your organization. Note that at least in this version there is no integration with Active Directory whatsoever which means that you can't take advantage of any groups of machines you may already have in AD. In addition, you can create multiple protection profiles, each with distinct settings for antivirus, firewall, updates, and scans. You can also designate who has access to the administrative Web site. Currently, there are three administrative roles: Total Control, Security Admin, and Monitoring.