IT administrators who are stragglers when it comes to moving off of Microsoft's free patch management technology, called Software Update Services 1.0, have six more months before the company pulls the plug on support.
The company said it will extend the support date for SUS 1.0 until July 10. IT shops today are using the successor, Windows Server Update Services 2.0, and WSUS 3.0 is in beta. WSUS 3.0 is expected to become available in the first half of 2007.
There is a world of difference between SUS 1.0 and the next version of WSUS 3.0. For one thing, the newest technology will be able to patch a broader array of Microsoft servers and applications, including Exchange Server, Office and SQL Server. There is also vastly better filtering as well as improved performance and reliability in the new technology.
WSUS can also deliver reports. The initial version of SUS only patched Windows desktops and servers, and there was no way to find out whether the patching process worked properly. Administrators still on SUS and who want to upgrade to WSUS 3.0 when it becomes available will first need to migrate to WSUS 2.0. Microsoft said there will be no upgrade path from SUS 1.0 to WSUS 3.0.
Many IT shops have already made the change. "I don't understand why anyone would stay on SUS 1.0 when WSUS 2.0 is out," said Clyde Johnson, senior network and systems administrator at HCC Aegis Inc. in New Bedford, Mass. "I suppose some administrators set it up, and why touch something if it's still working?"
"Since SUS didn't have any reporting tools, you could never tell if your patches had made it," he added. "Anyone who has more than 10 machines should have WSUS."
But there are always customers who have difficulty for one reason or another to upgrade to new technologies, said one analyst. "While any improvements are to be welcomed, this decision is an indication of the difficulties many companies have in terms of patch management and upgrades -- particularly when they have many hundreds or thousands of servers to deal with," said Jon Collins, a principal analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, a Cambridge, U.K.-based consulting firm.
"[Like] many other software vendors, Microsoft is playing the dangerous but perhaps necessary game of setting a deadline in the hope that it will encourage its customers to migrate in a timely fashion," Collins said. "In this case, Microsoft lost."