IBM Employs Watson to Manage Endpoints

    Given the sheer volume of devices and applications that need to be looked after within any enterprise, it’s little wonder there is always some subset that is vulnerable to malware even though the patch that would mediate that vulnerability already exists. At the IBM Interconnect 2017 conference today, IBM announced it plans to give the task of keeping track of all the updates and patches available to IBM Watson.

    Jim Brennan, director of strategy and offering management for IBM Security, says that the IBM MaaS360 endpoint management service will be infused with machine learning algorithms that will make suggestions concerning patches as well as what policies should be applied based on established rules and known best practices.

    IT administrators will be able to access that advice via a cognitive assistant that runs on the IBM Cloud along the IBM MaasS360 software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. Because of the wealth of data that IBM has been able to accumulate via other services such as the IBM X-Force Exchange security intelligence service, as well as the IBM Mobile Metrics benchmarking tool, Brennan says IBM is in a unique position to apply machine learning algorithms against a large pool of data in a way that provides actionable intelligence.

    Today that actionable intelligence is provided via a standard user interface. But very soon, Brennan says, IT administrators via IBM MaaS360 will be able use their own voice to interact with the natural language processing engine IBM built into Watson.

    In addition, IBM is training Watson to recognize issues associated with device enrollment, identity management, and regulatory compliance to provide additional insights and recommendations.

    IBM has been making a case for the centralization of IT management via a cloud service ever since it acquired MaaS360 in 2013.

    “The pace of endpoint change is fast,” says Brennan. “The only way to keep up with that is via SaaS.”

    Brennan says most IT organizations today are trying to cope with a plethora of devices that have any number of possible configuration issues, while at the same time dealing with any number of new potential threats and associated vendor updates. With the rise of machine learning in the form of Watson, that case gets stronger because machine learning algorithms gain accuracy over time the more data they get exposed to in an IT environment.


    Of course, it will be up to each individual IT organization to decide to what degree they will want to automate entire IT management processes based on input from Watson. Rather than eliminating IT staff positions, Brennan says IBM views Watson as a means to augment their capabilities.

    Of course, not everyone in the IT community may share that viewpoint. But like it or not, the machine learning algorithm genie is out of the bottle. The issue facing IT staffs now is determining where to focus their unique human insights to add value in ways a machine alone simply can’t.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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