Review: SolarWinds Patch Manager

Over the past five weeks we've been taking a look at SolarWinds' enterprise-grade software, and in the last of our articles today trying out their software, we're looking at their Patch Manager (formerly EminentWare). The idea of the Patch Manager is that it'll allow you to deploy patches both from Microsoft and third-parties to all the workstations on your network with ease, so that's what we're looking at today.

→ Learn more about SolarWinds' Patch Manager

Patch Manager works with two of the main patch delivery systems: Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). Depending on what environment you have deployed across your network, Patch Manager will integrate right in to the system and provide you with a robust method of deploying patches.

One of the main benefits of using Patch Manager is that it will give you an overview of what patches are available for your network, what ones have been deployed and where to, and of course which systems haven't received the updates yet. The easy-to-use interface helps a lot at achieving this goal, and also displays information such as what the patches are called and their approval status.

As with all the SolarWinds products we have tried, there is also a solid amount of reporting capabilities. The built-in ones are quite useful and can show you things like network client properties that can help you determine how to apply patches, but if you need more in-depth reports you can simply create your own set of parameters and have the final report emailed to you.

Along with Windows Update patches from Microsoft, SolarWinds' Patch Manager also supports numerous third-party applications including browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, many Adobe products including Flash and Reader, Java, Skype and more. When updates/patches for these applications are available, you will receive either an email update or "Outlook-style" pop-up that shows what is available. From there, you can get your IT department to start the approval process before deployment.

Patch Manager also provides for scripting before and after patches are deployed through "PackageBoot". This is incredibly handy as, for example, you could stop processes that may interfere with the software roll-out beforehand and then start them back up afterwards; all without complicated and time-consuming manual scripting from scratch. 

Scheduling is also possible with Patch Manager: you can set detailed parameters, dates and times for patches to be deployed, and when using in conjunction with PackageBoot you can ensure that a smooth roll-out is achieved. There are a number of administrator controls as well that allow you to control who can approve patches, meaning you can ensure only the right departments in your IT team approve the right patches.

Again, we're really only touching the surface of what is capable in this robust SolarWinds product, so if you need more information feel free to check here. Also, a free 30-day trial is available so you can test out all the features available before making a purchase.

This article has been sponsored by SolarWinds

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