Patch Management Solution
Strengths: A comprehensive product.
Weaknesses: Windoes-based; designed to work with Client Management Suite
Verdict: A solid and comprehensive offering that should be considered.
Part of Altiris’s comprehensive desktop management product, Client Management Suite, PMS is an agent-based program aimed exclusively at Windows environments. As a result, it might not be suitable for the large, heterogeneous nature of many of today’s larger companies. This latest version offers better installation verification, task scheduling and reboot control.
Installation of the server required Windows 2000 or 2003 and a Microsoft SQL database, while clients must support Windows 95 or later. This makes it a relatively inflexible offering when compared to some of the other products in this test.
In order for PMS to work, you must install Notification Server, which requires a server with a relatively modest 800MHz processor, 1GB of memory and a 20GB hard drive.
Management of the programme is through a web-based console, which is intuitive and well-designed. It uses tab-based navigation, which is logically laid out, while being browser-based, the management console has greater flexibility than those products where management can only be carried out on a single machine.
Before PMS can be used, it must perform a inventory of the network to obtain information on all the various software versions and patches that have been installed on client computers. From there, you can select which fixes you want to apply and where before giving the go-ahead.
Don’t forget that the software is only part of a much wider suite of applications, so if patch management is part of a wider security rollout, it might be better to take a look at the entire suite.
Control of relevant patches and their criticality is handled by a repository, and you can be emailed automatically when new vulnerabilities are discovered and patches become available.
You should take advantage of the software’s ability to assign patches to groups of clients, such as a test network, before risking the entire network.
Altiris also provides its trademarked WebReports, which can be used to gain a holistic view of your network. And if a patch causes harm, PMS can integrate with Altiris Recovery Solution to rollback unwanted updates.
Overall, Altiris has provided a solid, comprehensive offering with this product.