Keeping systems up to date and thus protected against various attack methods is sometimes difficult. You're aware that many patch-management solutions are available, including solutions from Microsoft as well as third-party software vendors. You need information about the available patch-management solutions to determine which might best fit your needs. In addition, you probably sometimes need to discuss your particular patch-management solution with other people to help better understand its problems or quirks. Numerous resources are available that can help.
If you're shopping for a patch-management solution, remember that Mark Burnett and some of his associates recently tested seven patch-management solutions to gauge their effectiveness. Those solutions include BigFix Patch Manager, Ecora Patch Manager, Gravity Storm Software's Service Pack Manager, PatchLink Update, SecurityProfiling's SysUpdate, Shavlik Technologies' HFNetChkPro, and St. Bernard Software's UpdateExpert. Burnett's findings are available in his article on our Web site.
Patch management is the primary focus of the April issue of Windows & .NET Magazine. Mark Burnett discusses advanced patch-management techniques and resources that can assist in your efforts. Of course, before you roll out a patch to your enterprise, you'll probably want to test it to ensure that it works properly in your environment. Jason Fossen discusses patch testing and offers tips and scripting ideas. You can read the articles in the print magazine, or if you subscribe to the print magazine or our VIP program, you can access the articles on our Web site.
Another April issue article you might find interesting is Michael Otey's commentary "Unreasonable Expectations." In Otey's opinion, Microsoft needs to fix its patching process. You don't need to be a subscriber to read what Otey has to say.
If you'd like to discuss patch-management solutions with other network administrators, a relatively new resource is available: the Patch Management mailing list. I've been a subscriber since its inception and can say that the list is a valuable resource. Shavlik Technologies hosts the related Web site, but the list is vendor neutral--there's no slant toward one product or another. Conversation about any topic regarding any Windows or Linux patch or any patch solution is welcome--regardless of the vendor. You can subscribe to the mailing list by going to the first URL below. At the Web site, you'll also find articles related to patch management, including a list of product comparisons from a variety of mainstream publishers. And be sure to check out Jason Chan's informative article "Essentials of Patch Management Policy and Practice" at the second URL below.