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IBM intros cognitive assistant to tackle enterprise device sprawl


When it comes to corporate IT management and security, one of the biggest pain points is the mobile device. Most organizations are challenged by the difficulty of managing and securing the deluge of corporate and employee-owned devices, and any missteps can cause dangerous gaps in security and a haphazard network environment.

Like other major tech vendors, IBM jumped into the device management game early on, but Big Blue is now turning to Watson to help businesses deal with enterprise device sprawl.

IBM announced Monday at the IBM InterConnect conference the release of the MaaS360 Advisor, a Watson-based cognitive assistant designed to help IT admins manage networks of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and IoT devices through natural language and machine learning.

The MaaS360 Advisor parses through and correlates data — ranging from compliance documents to active threats like zero day vulnerabilities and malware — to analyze devices on a network and recommends policies, security patches and best practices to better manage and protect them. The technology is basically an extension of IBM’s MaaS360 endpoint management system and delivered via the IBM Cloud.

IBM is also researching ways to apply Watson’s natural language processing to the MaaS360 platform. For instance, administrators could ask the MaaS360 Advisor conversational questions about their enterprise environment, such as, “Show new Android tablets,” or “Show devices eligible for Windows 10 upgrade.”

The end goal is to build a cognitive assistant that helps automate the process of managing an securing a network of devices, IBM said.

“Enterprise administrators are responsible for digesting an incredible amount of data, including security vulnerabilities, privacy regulations, multiple OS and device updates, and compliance requirements,” said Jim Brennan, director of strategy and offering management for IBM Security. “Through MaaS360 with Watson, we’re not only able to streamline and sharpen the data so administrators can stay ahead of the curve, but also transform the way they interact with their environment.”

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