Patch management is the process of managing software updates and patches across multiple systems and devices in an organization
It involves identifying, acquiring, testing, deploying, and monitoring patches to ensure that all systems and applications are up-to-date, secure, and functioning properly. The primary goal of patch management is to keep systems and applications up-to-date and secure against potential vulnerabilities and attacks.
Without proper patch management, systems, and applications can be left vulnerable to cyber attacks, malware infections, and other security threats. Hackers often exploit known vulnerabilities in software to gain unauthorized access to systems, steal data, or cause other damage. Patch management ensures that these vulnerabilities are addressed promptly, reducing the risk of security breaches and other cyber threats. In addition to improving security, patch management also helps organizations improve system performance and stability by fixing bugs and other issues that can cause system crashes, data loss, or other problems. This can help reduce downtime, improve productivity, and lower IT support costs.
In an enterprise environment, patch management can be a complex and time-consuming task, as organizations typically have hundreds or even thousands of endpoints to manage, including desktops, laptops, servers, mobile devices, and other networked devices. As a result, many organizations use automated patch management tools to streamline the process and ensure consistent, reliable patch deployment. This is where ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus comes into play.
Overview of Patch Manager Plus
ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus is a patch management solution designed to help organizations automate the process of patching their computer systems, applications, and devices. It provides a centralized platform for managing and deploying patches to endpoints in an organization, including desktops, laptops, servers, and mobile devices.
With ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus, organizations can automate patch deployment, monitor patch status and compliance, and generate reports for regulatory compliance. The solution supports patch management for various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well as over 850 third-party applications, including popular software such as Adobe, Java, and Chrome. This is important because third-party applications are often a prime target for hackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and applications.
In addition to patch deployment, Patch Manager Plus provides compliance reports for various regulatory standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001. These reports help organizations ensure that they are meeting regulatory requirements and avoiding potential fines and penalties.
Below is a summary of the key features of Patch Manager Plus:
- Automated patch deployment The tool automates the process of downloading and deploying patches, reducing the time and effort required to patch multiple systems.
- Third-party patch management Patch Manager Plus provides patch management for a wide range of third-party applications, including popular software such as Adobe, Java, and Chrome.
- Patch testing The tool allows organizations to test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them to production systems.
- Patch rollback If a patch causes issues or conflicts with a system or application, Patch Manager Plus allows organizations to roll back the patch to its previous state.
- Compliance reporting The tool provides compliance reports for various regulatory standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001, helping organizations ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Patch management for remote systems Patch Manager Plus allows organizations to patch remote systems and applications that are outside of their corporate network.
- Patch scheduling The tool allows organizations to schedule patch deployment during off-hours to minimize disruption to critical business processes.
Patch Manager Plus supports both on-premises and cloud deployment models, and it’s available in three editions:
- Free (up to 20 computers and 5 servers),
- Professional (suitable for LAN computers), and
- Enterprise (suitable for LAN computers) editions
A free 30-day trial is available for both the on-premises and cloud versions.
How Patch Manager Plus Works
Patch Manager Plus works by scanning all devices on the network to detect missing patches for operating systems, applications, and third-party software. This process helps identify vulnerabilities in the network that can be exploited by hackers and other malicious actors. Once missing patches are detected, Patch Manager Plus uses a centralized platform to manage and deploy patches to endpoints in the organization, including desktops, laptops, servers, and mobile devices.
By automating the patching process, Patch Manager Plus ensures that all devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches, reducing the risk of security breaches and other cyber threats. Patch Manager Plus also allows organizations to test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them to production systems. This can help reduce the risk of system downtime or other issues caused by faulty patches.
Quick Start Guide
With Patch Manager Plus cloud edition, there are no on-premise system requirements and no installation hassles other than the usual sign-up process to get started. For the on-premise edition, the following are the basic steps for getting started:
- Download and install the software The first step is to download and install Patch Manager Plus on a system in your network. The installation process is straightforward, and the software comes with a wizard that guides you through the setup process. Ensure that you meet the system requirements before you proceed.
- Add systems to the Patch Manager Plus console Once the software is installed, the next step is to add systems to the Patch Manager Plus console. This can be done by using the “Add Systems” option in the console. You can add systems by specifying the IP address, and hostname, or importing a list of systems from a CSV file.
- Configure patch policies After adding systems to the console, you can configure patch policies to determine which patches will be deployed to which systems. You can create different patch policies based on the severity of the patch or the type of system being patched.
- Scan systems for missing patches Once patch policies are configured, Patch Manager Plus will scan systems for missing patches. You can manually initiate a scan or configure Patch Manager Plus to automatically scan systems at specific intervals.
- Deploy patches After systems have been scanned, Patch Manager Plus will deploy missing patches according to the patch policies configured in step 3. You can choose to deploy patches immediately or schedule them for a specific time.
- Monitor patch status Patch Manager Plus provides real-time status updates on patch deployment. You can monitor the patch status in the console or configure email notifications to receive updates on patch deployment.
- Generate reports Patch Manager Plus provides a variety of reports that can help you assess the status of patch deployment in your network. You can generate reports on patch status, compliance, vulnerability, and more.
Patch Manager Plus can be integrated with several other tools to enhance its functionality and make the patch management process more efficient. Here are some of the popular integrations of Patch Manager Plus:
- SCCM Integration Patch Manager Plus can integrate with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to streamline patch management across an organization’s endpoints. The integration allows SCCM to fetch patch metadata from Patch Manager Plus and deploy patches to the endpoints.
- Active Directory Integration The integration of Patch Manager Plus with Active Directory (AD) helps automate patch deployment by targeting AD groups. This ensures that patches are applied to endpoints in a structured and organized manner.
- ServiceDesk Plus Integration ServiceDesk Plus is another product from ManageEngine, which can be integrated with Patch Manager Plus to enable IT teams to automate patch management for requests raised through the ServiceDesk Plus portal.
- ServiceNow integration Patch Manager Plus provides integration with ServiceNow, a popular IT service management tool. This integration allows ServiceNow users to view and manage patches from within the ServiceNow console.
- Desktop Central Integration Desktop Central is a unified endpoint management solution from ManageEngine that can be integrated with Patch Manager Plus. This integration enables IT teams to automate patch management and device management from a single console.
- API Integration Patch Manager Plus also provides REST APIs that can be used to integrate with other third-party tools. This integration can help automate patch management and streamline the patching process.
- PowerShell module Patch Manager Plus provides a PowerShell module that can be used to automate tasks related to patch management. The module provides cmdlets to perform various operations such as adding systems, deploying patches, and generating reports.
These integrations enable organizations to automate the patch management process, reduce the time and effort required for patching, and improve the overall security posture of their endpoints.
Benefits in Network Administration
Patch Manager Plus is a critical tool for network administration as it helps ensure endpoint security, saves time and effort, streamlines patch management, and enhances compliance with regulatory requirements. It is an essential tool for any organization that values the security and efficiency of its network. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Ensures Endpoint Security Patch Manager Plus helps identify and deploy security patches, ensuring that endpoints are protected against known vulnerabilities and attacks. This improves the overall security posture of the network and minimizes the risk of cyber threats.
- Saves Time and Effort Patch Manager Plus automates the patch management process, reducing the time and effort required for manual patching. It helps IT teams save time and focus on other critical tasks, leading to better productivity and efficiency.
- Streamlines Patch Management Patch Manager Plus provides a centralized console to manage and deploy patches across all endpoints in the network, making patch management more streamlined and organized. IT teams can track the patch status of each endpoint, schedule patch deployments, and generate reports to analyze the patching process.
- Enhances Compliance Patch Manager Plus helps organizations comply with regulatory requirements by ensuring that endpoints are updated with the latest patches and updates. This ensures that the organization is adhering to the latest security standards and guidelines.
Strengths and Limitations
Patch Manager Plus strength lies in its ease of use, multi-platform support, and reporting and customization capabilities. Patch Manager Plus is user-friendly and easy to navigate, with a simple and intuitive interface. This makes it easy for even non-technical users to use the tool effectively. Its support for a wide range of platforms and third-party applications makes it a versatile tool that can be used across diverse IT environments.
The reporting capabilities enable IT teams to monitor patch compliance and track patch deployment progress. The fact that Patch Manager Plus patching policies and schedules can be customized means that you can tailor the tool to your unique requirements.
However, as much as Patch Manager Plus is user-friendly, there may be a learning curve for users who are new to the tool. Patch management in general is a complex process, and organizations may need to invest time and resources to fully understand and utilize the capabilities of Patch Manager Plus. This may require IT teams to invest time in training and familiarization before they can use the tool effectively. It’s also important to state that Patch Manager Plus relies on third-party vendors to provide patches for non-Microsoft applications. This can sometimes lead to delays in patch availability or issues with patch quality.
Patch Manager Plus is designed to scale to large IT environments, it may not be suitable for extremely large organizations with tens of thousands of endpoints. In such cases, organizations may need to consider other patch management solutions that can handle larger volumes of endpoints.
In conclusion, Patch Manager Plus is a powerful patch management solution that offers a range of benefits to organizations of all sizes. It helps network administrators to automate the patch management process, reduce manual effort, and enhance endpoint security. Its centralized console provides a single view of patch status across all endpoints, making patch management more streamlined and efficient.
Patch Manager Plus is also highly customizable, allowing network administrators to create custom patching policies and prioritize critical patches. It also integrates with other tools like SCCM, AD, and ServiceDesk Plus, enhancing its functionality and making the patch management process even more efficient.
Overall, Patch Manager Plus is an essential tool for any organization that values the security and efficiency of its network. By automating the patch management process, improving endpoint security, and enhancing compliance, Patch Manager Plus helps organizations maintain a strong security posture and reduce the risk of cyber threats.