Much of what can be done to improve patch management ultimately rests with operating system and application vendors. However, eWEEK Labs work with four leading makers of patch management tools led us to develop a patch management wish list. We encourage IT managers to push for these line items in future releases.
- Cross-platform support Only PatchLinks PatchLink Update was able to work with all the operating systems running in eWEEK Labs, including Solaris, Red Hat Linux and NetWare. It wont take much effort to push other vendors to do the same—Ecora, St. Bernard and Shavlik all indicated that they plan to support at least one other OS in addition to Windows.
- Configuration reports Ecora Patch Manager has an extensive change reporting system, but it was unwieldy because it provided too much detail. When considering a patch management tool, look carefully at the change management reports for concise, relevant information. Reports should show who did what to which servers.
- More analysis All the products we tested provided at least some level of patch analysis, but IT managers should expect even more. PatchLink Update and St. Bernard UpdateExpert both provide impressive analysis that describes the relevance and importance of various patches. Because patch management vendors are in a unique position to hear how various patches are performing, IT managers should insist that they share that information as part of the product license.