Quest unveils new Quest on Demand SaaS platform for Microsoft solutions

Quest is releasing the new platform at Microsoft Inspire, because they see it as a strong channel offering, and are looking to recruit new partners to sell it.

Today, at the Microsoft Inspire event, Quest Software is announcing the availability of their new Quest On Demand SaaS platform. They have also unveiled the first two of what they promise will be a much larger family of modules. One, Quest On Demand Recovery for Azure Active Directory provides granular back up and recovery for users and groups in Azure Active Directory and Office 365 environments. The other module provides Policy Management for Skype for Business Online and Exchange Online.

While Quest on Demand is a brand new product, it comes from the Microsoft platform management component of Quest which has existed since 2000, when the company acquired Halifax N.S.-based Fastlane Technologies.

“Our business securing Microsoft infrastructure now has over 10,000 customers with Active Directory accounts under management, with the smaller ones being around a thousand in size and the larger over a million,” said Michael Tweddle, President & GM of the Quest Microsoft Platform Management business

“This is not our first SaaS offering,” Tweddle said. “We already have one for migrations, which are important for us. Migrations are our foot in the door with many customers, who let us move up the stack and sell the rest of the portfolio. What we are announcing now, however, are all net new solutions to solve specific pain points, that are complementary to products we already have.”

“It’s pretty unusual to be able to deliver a net-new platform as a product team,” said Brad Kirby, Director of Product Management in the Quest Microsoft Platform Management business. “You are usually updating what you already have, so this is pretty exciting.”

Kirby said that while Quest will continue to update and support its on-prem Microsoft platform management solutions, this SaaS platform is clearly the future.

“SaaS is becoming the preferred method for software delivery, in part because SaaS vendors have established a faster innovation cadence,” he said. “This demand has been building for some time and Microsoft has been a key contributor to that. SaaS represents he future of our platform management business. We will have on-prem for some time, but we see this as the innovation centre.”

The On Demand platform itself is designed to deliver automation at scale, eliminating the old on-prem software installations and the need to manage the roll-out of updates. It also integrates the core security features built into Azure.

“This is the first release, with the platform, so it’s all about the vision,” Kirby said. “It’s modular in the way that things are delivered from the platform. We can plug everything into that single interface. Having a good interface is not enough through, so we deliver RESTful APIs so users can programmatically interact with the platform.”

Kirby promised that there will be lots of modules over time, but the first two are for Policy Management and Data Recovery.

“The Policy Management establishes a set of rules for groups in Azure Active Directory, one for Skype for Business Online and one for Exchange Online,” he said. “With Skype, organizations have strict rules abut which documents can be shared, so we can create a policy limiting sharing for groups. It’s challenging to do that with PowerShell alone, because the user would have to do all the PowerShell scripting themselves.”

With Policy Management for Exchange Online, organizations can set policies for ActiveSync (mobile), mail retention, OWA, file sharing and address book, as well as increase control over mobile usage.

“We have no equivalent of Policy Management in our on-prem portfolio, so this was white space we could step into,” Kirby said.

Kirby stated that Quest On Demand Recovery, which backs up and recovers users, attributes, groups and group membership in Azure Active Directory and Office 365 environments, is significantly more granular than Microsoft’s platform capability.

“Microsoft does have a recycle bin for Active Directory and Office 365, but it only allows you to restore groups, and isn’t granular like this,” he noted.

In terms of what’s coming down the road, Kirby said that the SaaS email migration solution Quest already sells is the logical next step to adapt to the new platform.

“We will expand on that and bring it into the On Demand platform, to enable tenant to tenant migration in the Office 365 environment,” he said. “We will also bring Change Auditor, our best on-prem product, onto the platform.”

In terms of the pace of additions, adding new modules like migration or Change Auditor would ideally be done every half year.

“If we can go faster, that would be great,” he said.

“In terms of enhancements to existing modules, those would be a two-month cadence,” Kirby added. “We don’t want to overwhelm users with a lot of changes.”

Kirby said that their On Demand platform should have a strong channel appeal.

“Our direct sales field force tends to service large enterprise customers, and they will continue in that with On Demand,, but it has a definite appeal to the mid-market customer,” he said. “We are very interested in forming new channel partnerships for it. That’s why we are at Inspire, looking to recruit partners to sell it.”

“We expect to get interest from our existing partners but also from Microsoft CSPs that we are not working with now,” Tweddle said.

Quest On Demand is available now