Pick your patch management product -- admins enjoy choices

It seems like there are almost as many patch management products as there are patches to manage. Several new products have bloomed in the last week.

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Administrators often grouse that certain aspects of Windows management get the short shrift from vendors.

Thankfully, patch management is not one of those shafted aspects.

Software companies continue to shape strategies, build software and strike partnerships -- all aimed at administrators who are overwhelmed by software patches and application updates. And administrators continue to look for third-party vendor help in packaging and distribution of applications and patches.

"The timeline for the release of these products is much more rapid today," said Robert Sandri, senior network consultant at Association Technologies Inc., a systems integrator based in Rosemont, Ill. "Patch management is the great task."

Analysts said that customers certainly appreciate the risks associated with not applying the growing platoon of patches. "Patch management is an area in which manual approaches have no chance of being effective," said Ronni Colville, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc., in a March research report.

Sandri is an example of an administrator who routinely changes vendors in search of a favorite patch management application. He has worked with ZENworks for Desktops by Novell Inc., Systems Management Server (SMS) by Microsoft Corp., and Wise Package Studio by Wise Solutions Inc. Sandri recently switched to AdminStudio by InstallShield Software Corp. Its latest version, AdminStudio 5.0, is easier to use than Wise Package Studio, Sandri said.

A few patch management vendors have been making noise lately to nab the attention of admins:

  • Altiris Inc. this month said it will deliver a Patch Management Toolkit in May that will be a free download for admins currently using the Altiris Client Management Suite. The Toolkit, an addition to Altiris' policy-based configuration management software, will help admins assess system vulnerability and will automate distribution of patches for Windows and Microsoft applications.

    The Toolkit will work in tandem with Microsoft's Software Update Services (SUS). Admins don't need SUS to work with Toolkit, said Tyler Smith, Altiris marketing vice president. Altiris also plans to release Patch Management Solution in the third quarter of this year, which will extend vulnerability assessment and automated patch distribution to third-party Windows applications, Unix and Linux operating systems and Unix and Linux applications.

  • InstallShield Software Corp. last week announced that its application and patch deployment application AdminStudio now integrates with IBM Corp.'s Tivoli. InstallShield said the integration will save Tivoli admins time by eliminating the manual step of populating Windows Configuration Manager with a packaged application.

  • New Boundary Technologies Inc. last week announced Prism Pack 5.0, the latest version of its software distribution tool that promises to help admins package software and patches destined for Windows PCs. The company says Prism can replace SMS Installer, import installation information into SMS and create .MSI installations for legacy applications.

    In an example of a partnership within the patch management sector, New Boundary Technologies partnered with InstallShield to include InstallShield's Developer and Tuner tools with Prism Pack. The tools will let admins edit and customize file formats when distributing software.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Article: Freight company hauls in 37,000 Windows patches

    Article: Security push makes patch management strategy a must

    Click here to ask SMS expert Rod Trent a question.

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