So is this model more about empowering users or providing software vendors a cheap way to expand features in their products?
It could be a bit of both. It definitely keeps customers engaged (who doesn't want free stuff?) and likely more loyal during these tight financial times when many don't have the budget to pay for upgrades or next-generation products. Secure Passage president and CTO Jody Brazil says customers have written hundreds of these custom extensions to the product during the past three years, including some that perform audit checks and run custom reports.
Financial services firm Raymond James is one Secure Passage customer that has written several plug-ins internally for Firemon. Todd Ferguson, enterprise information security architect for Raymond James, says his company is in the process of "sanitizing" the plug-ins and sharing them online with other Firemon customers.
Ferguson says every off-the-shelf product needs to be customized and extensible, so the user community-based extension program makes sense. From now on, Raymond James plans to check first on Nexus for the availability of a specific extension, and then create its own if one that fits doesn't exist.
There's obviously a level of trust here among the Secure Passage customer community, but the plug-ins will be vetted, verified, and labeled as such by Secure Passage, plus the APIs have built-in controls that protect Firemon from tampering or corruption.
Still, it's good practice for users participating in this type of forum to not share any plug-ins or extensions they wrote that are remotely proprietary or specific to their environments.
-- Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading Follow Kelly (@kjhiggins) on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kjhiggins