Patch management can be a process that is tedious and time-consuming. It is also widely known to be an IT department’s bugaboo. Well, good news! You can manage the patch process proactively by employing the right central patch management solutions. The right solutions in the right place can limit the drudgery of patching your servers, testing updates, and more. When it comes to patching your servers, the problem is that many administrators are in a reactive mode, rather than a proactive mode. If you want to adopt the best practices to ease the process, read on!
Start by Establishing a Reasonable Patching Schedule
As thousands of patches get released on a daily basis, you may overwhelm your enterprise network by applying every newly released patch. You need to prioritize your updates and properly classify them into categories. Once you develop a hierarchy on how you patch servers, you can proceed to determine how much of the patching process needs to be automated. You can reduce maintenance work by allowing your systems to automatically update themselves.
Do keep in mind that simultaneous patch file downloads may create performance bottlenecks, especially if done on an enterprise scale. You should consider integrating vulnerability scanning systems with your chosen patch management products. Those systems can pinpoint potential problem spots and apply the fix without delay.
Aim to Reduce Patching Complexity
With so many tools for many patch purposes, it is easy for your IT team to operate in a fragmented manner and fail to understand the IT deployment’s risk posture. It is pertinent that you stick to one tool to perform all needed tasks. You can put patches for client servers and systems, Mac computers, PC-based hardware, third-party software, and Microsoft products through the same tool with the same process. Today, there is a wide variety of reputable vendors that develop all-encompassing patch management platforms that simplify IT infrastructure complexity. If you have access to those platforms, you will be able to minimize the need for technical and end-user training.
Thoroughly Read and Understand Read Me Files
Before you or your co-workers apply any updates or touch the server, be sure to understand examine the fine print that comes with each patch – read carefully! These files often outline critical pieces of information about the patch itself. You can gain a better understanding of the installation requirements and reasons why the patch was built. If you complete the patching procedure perfectly the first time round, you can avoid more work that may occur later in the patch deployment cycle.
Test and Verify
Testing the patch first is an excellent way to lower the likelihood that something goes wrong. If you install bad patches in a live production environment, it is going to cause a headache. So, by sandboxing the patch, your team can determine what will happen after the update is deployed, without causing interruptions. After the deployment passes the test, and your servers are patched, do not forget to run periodic scans with a vulnerability assessment tool and facilitate database backups. You may also need to spot check individual machines and systems that have been added to the network. Make sure that they are fully up to date!
If you do not want to go through the hassle of patching your own servers, you can always allocate that task to a managed IT provider.