By Zach DeMeyer Posted January 9, 2020
IT organizations are offloading many day-to-day functions to cloud providers, including patch management. With cloud patch management, IT admins gain the benefits of managing patches to systems while foregoing much of the necessary work.
What is Patching?
Patches are updates released by software developers (of both operating systems and applications) as well as hardware manufacturers. A patch generally repairs existing bugs or puts preparations in place to prevent future ones. A patch can also add new functionality, but is often just called a new release or update. New versions of an operating system, a la macOS® Catalina™, are common examples of new releases, which can include bug fixes, changes, and new functionality.
In general, a system notification alerts a user that a new patch is available for installation. End users can then choose to update their system as necessary. In an organization, IT departments prefer to control these updates, and do so through patch management.
What is Patch Management?
When IT admins need to control how their users’ systems are patched, they implement a systematic way to do so. This process can be done manually; IT admins physically interface with systems, network equipment, applications, infrastructure, etc. to implement new patches and updates. Of course, for large enterprises, a manual patching process can take months (given their size), so manual patching is often a last resort.
In order to forego the manual work required for patching, IT organizations implement solutions that automate their patching needs. These patch management tools allow admins and/or network engineers to schedule patches and monitor their status before and after installation. Some smaller organizations outsource their patch management entirely, leveraging a managed service provider (MSP) or other similar resource instead of paying for and configuring a patch management solution.
Some patch management solutions are based entirely on-prem. In general, these solutions require dedicated servers, which in turn require initial configuration and ongoing maintenance to properly operate. Other solutions include scripts and configuration management tools. For fast-moving, modern organizations, the work required to manage these tools can be overwhelming.