Intuit Rolls Out Patch Management Tool for SMBs

The company's new Patch Manager package automatically scans systems and installs any missing patches.

Intuit Inc. has developed a new tool for small and midsize businesses that are struggling to keep up with patch management.

The company on Tuesday released Patch Manager, a package that scans, assesses, deploys and validates software patches from Microsoft Corp. and other vendors. The tool is part of Track-It!, Intuits asset management and help desk product line.

As new patches become available, the program automatically scans company technology assets, installs missing patches and reboots relevant systems. Patch Manager also provides detailed management reports that allow IT managers to track the patch management process and detect risk patterns.

With the release of the tool, Intuit could gain a foothold in a booming market. The Yankee Group has predicted that the global patch management market will grow from $70 million in 2003 to $300 million by 2008.

One of the reasons for the market surge is that patch management, once a fairly straightforward process, has become cumbersome for many companies.

A report from IT consultancy Robert Frances Group noted that unpatched vulnerabilities constitute the overwhelming majority of security breaches in the enterprise, but patching is often viewed as a time-consuming and costly operation. This has led to interest in automated tools.

In introducing Patch Manager, Intuit hopes to lessen the pain for customers, according to David Weiss, general manager of the companys Information Technology Solutions unit.

"Everybody is having difficulty with protecting their systems from harmful intruders, considering that theres a constant barrage of security threats," Weiss said. "Its become tough for companies to determine which machines are protected and which arent."

SMBs, in particular, have been struggling with patching since they usually dont have enough IT staff members to keep up with the nearly constant stream of patches Microsoft and other vendors are issuing.

/zimages/4/28571.gifeWEEK Labs Jason Brooks says Microsoft should consider a more granular and open patching infrastructure for Windows. Click here to read his column.

"Smaller companies need to have tools that are as little work for them as possible," Weiss said. "They need to streamline their operations, not add more tasks."

Intuit is not alone in offering automated patch management, but Weiss believes that since Patch Manager is folded into a larger package, it is unique in the breadth of what it can do. "Other tools have some asset tracking, but because of the extent of our portfolio, we feel we add more layers of protection," he said.

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