Setting Up the Test Network

The primary goal of our lab tests was to determine the usability and accuracy of each patch-management system. To push each product to its limits, we designed the most hostile network we could imagine. The test network consisted of half physical systems and half VMware virtual machines, each with a different service pack level of Windows 2000 Server and different installed hotfixes. To make things more difficult, the network used a multidomain Active Directory (AD) tree that also included standalone workgroups, hardened and firewalled servers, and laptops that were sometimes offline. Each system had different software installed, and we designed different scenarios to throw off the patch-management products. Some of these scenarios included limited disk space, modified hotfix files, modified file dates, slipstreamed service packs, denied administrator access, and beta versions of unreleased service packs. Some systems had hotfixes installed, then uninstalled, and others had random hotfixes installed in a random order. For baseline tests, some systems had the latest service packs installed but no other hotfixes; others we brought up-to-date by using Windows Update.

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