SOURCE: Diskeeper Corporation

July 20, 2006 02:00 ET

Patch Management Headache Relief?

Security Patches Are a Way of Life, But Also a Drain on Precious Resources; There Are, However, Potential Solutions

BURBANK, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 20, 2006 -- You do the math. Take the number of systems that you are managing, and multiply each one of those systems times the number of programs on those systems. Now multiply that by the number of patches, certificates, updates, and licenses (among a host of other administrative headaches) that you have to keep up-to-date and current on your computer. With only a small number of systems to manage, you could easily be facing hundreds of programs to update. For those managing a large number, it is not unusual to be faced with thousands or tens of thousands of programs that you have to keep track of and current. Let's face it, patch management can easily eat up precious human resources on a function that few enjoy doing, but can't be ignored.

It is doubtful that we will be able to get away from the drudgery of patch management any time soon. With current Windows-based operating systems, security patches and fixes are an accepted way of life. And, patches are NOT something to be taken lightly. They must be installed as soon as they become available in most instances, lest you are willing to put the entire company at risk after a threat presents itself.

But patches are only part of the story. Programs have other administrative issues, such as updating licenses for each machine. Installing new versions of a program, for instance, can also be a headache.

To solve these issues, many companies throw manpower at the problem. Oftentimes, a whole team of patch management specialists log and keep track of what has to be done on each machine and when, and then manually do the updating on each machine.

This is a solution of sorts, but labor intensive solutions are costly. Compounding this problem is the fact that much of the corporate workforce nowadays is mobile. Mobile units present a unique set of problems in that they are extremely vulnerable while on the road, and yet cannot be updated until the machine is physically back in the hands of the administrator. Thus, the window of opportunity looms dangerously wide open for the mobile workforce, regardless of the number of staff dedicated to keeping systems current.

Fortunately, software solutions have sprung up here and there in an effort to ease the headaches associated with patch management issues.

Programs like Sitekeeper and others are able to inventory and keep track of virtually everything on the machine in terms of software (and, in Sitekeeper's case, hardware as well). These programs will create logs which tell administrators what needs to be updated on each program and when. And, it doesn't matter how many machines the administrator might be in charge of, a Sitekeeper-type program will be able to handle them all.

Additionally, many of these patch management software programs will allow push install to all machines on the system from just one console.

This includes remote machines and laptops.

For administrators who have chosen to go the software route for patch management, it still isn't fun, but it's become manageable.

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