Success in any organization begins with mastering the fundamentals. In information technology, one of the most fundamental practices is patch management. Software and firmware need periodic updates to address security vulnerabilities and other issues.
Whether they’re released on a schedule or released urgently in response to a critical vulnerability, protecting systems, data, users, and customers requires applying patches in a timely manner to all affected systems. Far too many businesses fail at this basic process.
Patch Installation Isn’t As Simple As It Sounds
Although it sounds like it should be straightforward—receive patch, apply patch—the reality is that patching is complex. There are several reasons for this:
There’s a wide variety of systems to be patched. Patches come from everywhere. Today’s organizations have multiple operating systems, multiple hypervisors, and multiple versions of the software products they own. Keeping track of all of those systems and their patch levels is difficult. In addition, companies now have to think about how to manage patches on the mobile systems their employees use.
Patches need to be tested. No matter how important the vendor says the patch is, companies can’t simply apply it to their systems. All patches need to be tested to make sure they don’t unintentionally break a critical application. Plus, even tested patches can fail when they’re installed on production servers, and businesses need to document how they’ll back out and recover if something goes wrong.
Applying patches takes time. First, unless the process is automated, applying patches to all systems can take a lot of an operations team’s workday. Maybe more important, applying patches generally causes system downtime. That impacts business operations, and with today’s 24×7 business hours, it can be hard to find an appropriate time to perform the installation.
Not all patches are equally important. If it’s difficult to get all patches installed, the situation might not be so bad if businesses were able to get the critical patches installed. But it’s hard for companies to keep track of vulnerabilities and effectively evaluate and prioritize the importance of the many patches they receive.
Get On Top of Patches With Managed Services
One of the best ways to get on top of patches is to use IT managed services. A managed services provider is experienced at overseeing the routine maintenance of all your technology resources, including tracking and applying patches. Through their broad experience with technology, managed services providers are able to evaluate patch priority and ensure the critical items are handled rapidly. They can implement technology to make the patching process easier, using tools to scan systems to identify vulnerabilities and automation to ensure the issues are addressed.
How are you keeping up with patches? Contact CCS Technology Group if you’ve fallen behind and would like to implement a process to catch you up and keep you current with critical systems patches.