Better Patch Management Features
We already have some of the features; for example, Oracles Enterprise Manager will give the user basic information on what patches have been applied. Vendors need to go further, however, and provide products that show not only which patches have been applied, but which ones have not.Finally, the tool should enable the DBA to push out patches to large numbers of database servers across the network. Oh, and can we have that without the need for the database to be stopped, whenever possible? Im sure other things could be added to the wish list for such a tool, but lets start there. And, by the way, we shouldnt have to pay extra for these "features." Click here to read about Microsofts release of a patch management suite. The IT organization must do its part as well. One must invest in infrastructure to support change. On the pure hardware/software side of infrastructure, this means a well-planned and well-managed quality assurance test environment. On the people/process side, a change-management group should be established, with the power to coordinate, serialize, document, communicate and approve change promotion for all groups effecting change to an application. This group should require a detailed process flow for applying changes, and detailed plans for falling back or recovery (including expected time frames). Included should be a listing of users, applications and jobs potentially affected by the proposed changes. Be sure to use that list to clearly communicate the changes to those affected. Finally, organizations must keep happy the people that make the change process work. Personnel should not be over-managed, and should be given the authority and responsibility to do their jobs. Organizations should motivate and reward employees for meeting service level agreements by paying bonuses and giving additional pay for on-call duties. Organizations should also keep personnel educated and current by sending them to a related conference or course once a year. That is my suggested prescription, although it does have side effects. Strong change management process improves many more aspects of a business than just implementing vendor patches, so talk to your administrator. Better yet, when an application isnt available, take it up with your customers. Charles Garry is an independent industry analyst based in Simsbury, Conn. He is a former vice president with META Groups Technology Research Services. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.
A strong patch management tool should enable the DBA to apply multiple patches on top of each other, and to reverse individual patches if problems occur.