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Re: Betr.: Re: MS Patches Management software: SUS vs 3rd party
From: Neil Fryer <nfryer () marimba com>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 18:28:55 +0000

Hi Philip,

I know that this may be a bit late, and this is not an excuse to get the company that I work at more money either. As even if that was the case I wouldn't directly see any of it. If you are looking at Patch Management solutions, have a look at us if nothing else.

http://www.marimba.com

I hope that if nothing else it gives you another avenue to explore.

Kind Regards,
Neil Fryer

On Wednesday, Oct 29, 2003, at 08:11 Europe/London, Philip Wagenaar wrote:

We are also currently looking at a solution for updating our clients and servers.

We have tested SUS server (free from Microsoft) as disucced before. The major drawback is that if a new unpatched client connects to it, it retrieves all patches at once. There is no management in SUS, except approving new updates.

Currently Microsoft is holding a betaprogram for the next version of SUS http://www.betanews.com/article.php3?sid=1060982281 where you can find out more about it (or just go directly to http://www.betaplace.com (Microsoft's betaprogram's website) and log in using the Guest ID MSUSCustNom

Another program we are going to test is Service Pack Manager from www.raxco.nl. This program has much better management options and supports NT 4.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Philip Wagenaar

AccoN Accountants & Adviseurs
ICT Project Bureau
Postbus 5090
6802 EB Arnhem
The Netherlands

tel. +31 (0)26-3842384
fax. +31 (0)26-3630222
mobile: +31 (0)6-25388935
MSN/E-mail: p.wagenaar () accon nl
http://www.accon.nl


Charles Otstot <charles.otstot () ncmail net> 28-10-03 14:05 >>>
Andres,

If they are planning to include the Windows NT 4.0 servers for the
period they are in use, SUS is out. SUS only works on 2000 and above.
Shavlik make a couple of products, HFNETCHK Pro (paid version) and
HFNETCHK LT (free version). LT was limited in it's abilities at one
point, I've not really kept up with it, but it is suitable for some
locations.
As to other commercial products, ST Bernard and Shavlik both do a solid
job for MS patches.
If you want more that Microsoft patches, about the only product
available is PatchLink (patchlink.com). PatchLink does a reasonably good job for MS patches,but also provides the ability to patch other OSes and
application vendor products.
The other primary players in this market are Service Pack Manager (I
tested this product and was not overly impressed.) and a farily new
product by Ecora which I have not tested (I completed my testing before
the product was introduced.)

I would note that, given the tone of your posting, it is highly unlikely
that the servers have reached a consistent patch level. You may find
that patching with any of the patch distribution tools in this scenario
will not be totally successful initially. You may want to consider
recommending (or creating for them) batch files for an initial rollout
to bring the servers to a consistent patch level *before* using any of
the patch tools. Most of the products will allow you to set mandatory
patch levels, but they will also being patching *immediately* if you
place a server into a group with mandatory patches (no ability to
schedule=reboots at bad times). The rationale (as best as I can figure)
is that a server should not be in use if it is non-compliant, and if a
server already in use *becomes* non-compliant with your mandatory
configuration, immediate action is required. This may help you avoid an
easy trap to fall into (i.e. setting your mandatory patches and placing
all your servers into the group at initial setup). Once you have patched
to the necessary level, you can place servers into mandatory groups if
you desire. Again, don't put new patches into the mandatory until
they've been rolled out. At this point, you can schedule new patches to
be rolled out individually (and where required) with installation and
reboot at any time the server owner requires.
I would also recommend that they centralize antivirus services with one
or more master servers passing out updates to client servers.
 Symantec's Corporate Edition is fairly easy and straightforward to
configure and with the System Center Console installed, is easy to manage.

The major issue I see with either of these two pieces is the
(apparently) total decentralization of server management. All of the
patch distribution mechanisms and Symantec CE assume/depend on at least
some level of centralized management. Obviously, the more inmportant and
difficult issues you face (e.g. lack of policies) are completely
dependent upon at least some level of centralized management/authority.
 It really seems to me that your first and foremost recommendation has
to be that the client develop some sort of centralized control,
otherwise they have no real hope of resolving their issues (if they
consider the things you've listed issues at all).

Charlie


Andres Martinez wrote:

I'm looking the best solution for one of our customers to deal with the administration and deployment of security patches, if somebody can make a recommendation based on real experience I'll appreciate.
Customer server environment:

125 servers: 80% Windows 2000 - 20 % Windows NT 4.0 (They are planning to get rid of NT servers soon)
All servers on same physical location.
There is no central administration of servers: Server managment provided for different people with different Technical skills. Hard to get control. Few IT resources.
By default Windows installations = High risk of security problems.
Lack of security policies for server management and security.
Very reactive to solve problems.
Lack of software or scripts to automatize processes like patches deployment. They already have had serious problems due to virus like welchia and blaster who exploit know security vulnerabilities. Corporate Symantec antivirus used for virus protection, but not installed on all servers, problems with antivirus updates on some servers. It is hard to obtain approval for reboot servers due to mission critical role and business nature (healthcare industry), so minimun downtime is required.
What would you use ?

MS Sofware Update Services (SUS) which is free

or Third party software like Hfnetchk Pro or St Bernard Update expert (http://www.mcpmag.com/Features/print.asp?EditorialsID=354)



Waiting for your comments



Thanks



Andres



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