Stolen Laptop? TriActive's New Service Can Get On The Case


When EA Engineering, Science and Technology (EAEST) was looking for a software solution to track its PC inventory and push out virus protection and Windows updates, it never dawned on Joe Haggerty, director of information technology, that he was getting an antitheft service too.

But when one of the Hunt Valley, Md.-based engineering company's field site trailers was broken into and a laptop was stolen, Haggerty had TriActive on the case.

EAEST had installed TriActive's asset management solution, which puts an agent on each device to help track its location as well as its performance. After the break-in, Haggerty noticed that the TriActive agent was still registering on the machine, meaning that the laptop was in use somewhere.

Haggerty contacted TriActive, which built a report for him and e-mailed EAEST the IP address that the machine was using. Haggerty contacted local authorities, who got a warrant and made the arrest. The laptop has since been returned to EAEST.

"Without the TriActive agent, there's no way we would have recovered that machine. It's back in operation with all our original data," Haggerty said. "I'm happy with the product; it's been in our system over three years. It streamlines the ability to push out updates to the machines and track assets and it has these hidden benefits. Like I mentioned, we never would have recovered the device. There's no real way to track this machine without that agent."

TriActive has helped recover at least one other stolen laptop, said Ron Halversen, vice president of marketing for TriActive, based in Austin, Texas. In that case, when authorities busted a criminal theft ring, they found more than 300 stolen PCs and other devices.

At a time when solution providers are looking for a fresh angle to bring to customers, TriActive is hoping VARs will market its Lojack-like abilities as an added bonus to its more-marketed asset management features. With an active agent residing on a PC, TriActive also has the capability to disable hard drives or deny access to specific folders/files of stolen computers, protecting valuable company IP and other information, from anywhere via a Web browser.

Launched in June 2008, TriActive has more than 1,000 customers, 200 channel partners and is looking to build solution provider relationships to further expand its customer base, Halversen said.

Tri Active offers a pay-as-you-go model, which allows solution providers to quickly install and uninstall the agents on a project-by-project basis if necessary, he said.

"There's no up-front cost. We've already built a multimillion-dollar infrastructure. We've built it for millions of nodes. There's no reason for you to do it. The back end is there. You roll your customers out, pay as you go. Time to revenue is less than two weeks," Halversen said.

Solution providers send out TriActive agents to their clients' devices to identify potential problems, Halversen said.

"It lets you know if you have any missing critical patches, or if some [PCs] don't have any active antivirus licenses. Then the VAR can say, 'You want me to monitor and fix that for you?' There's value to the partner," he said. "As a reseller, you can call a customer and say, 'I see you have 1,437 assets. One thousand of them are missing critical patches, 239 are protected but have out of definition files.' You can find out where the assets are and protect them," he said.

Three-quarters of TriActive's partners migrated over to the company from other MSP platform solutions, according to Halversen.

"They spent an average of $36,000 up front [on previous vendors], built their own data center and had to go out and roll up customers. As soon as they got to a certain level of customers, they had to buy more licenses, more hardware and have a larger data center. For a VAR, that up-front cost and time was a barrier to entry."

Curtis Blair, vice president of channel and partner alliances at DirectPointe, a Lindon, Utah-based MSP, said the antitheft angle makes sense, although he doesn't pitch that when trying to win business. He said the solution's other features are often enough.

"We deploy it remotely and locally to capture a topography of a prospect's environment. We can put a quote together that is more focused and more accurate for their needs," Blair said. "Once the agent is there, we can deploy software, updates, patch management, those types of things. We use that more heavily as a presales business technology tool. If you show them where they're deficient, they can optimize their spend."