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Automated patch management for SMB customers

I am doing some research about automated patch management for my small business customers, and I've heard a lot lately about PatchLink as a good solution. What do you think about this product? Would you recommend it for SMBs?

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PatchLink's product, PatchLink Update, was created in 1996 and is currently on revision 6 of the product. PatchLink is one of the longest-standing providers when it comes to patch management. Considering all of the hype around patch management and the number of tools that have been released in the past few years, going with a vendor that has withstood the test of time and has a long history is always a viable option. PatchLink also has the ability to support agents on Windows, Unix (Solaris, IBM AIX and HP UX), Linux, Macintosh and NetWare systems. PatchLink's agents have the ability to perform other tasks when installed, such as general software deployment or policy-based configuration and auditing. Being able to perform more than one function with an agent installed on a system is also helpful, as it can reduce the number of agents, or products that are required to perform certain tasks.

There is no one size fits all solution for patch management. It is very important that each SMB determine their patch management requirements, to document these requirements and use this information in the product decision making process. An SMB should also evaluate their environment to see what types of systems have been implemented. This information should also be used in process of determining which product is best for them. The last step is to test various products, conduct a product bake-off, or evaluate several patch management products, comparing them to the requirements that have been documented and the environment they will be used in. Once these steps have been completed, you can help your SMB customer choose the product that is best for them based on documented proof and facts. While PatchLink is a tried-and-true patch management product, it is very difficult to say whether or not it would be good for a specific small business customer.

This was first published in December 2006

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