Configuresoft Security Update Manager
$25 per server; $5 per workstation for SUM
One of the most advanced products in the test.
Needs wider OS support.
Useful for servers.
Rather than a standalone product, Configuresoft's Security Update Manager (SUM) is an add-on product to the its Enterprise Configuration Manager (ECM). Both products require separate licensing, so it is much better value if you are already an ECM user. While ECM primarily deals with collating information on your network's computers, SUM takes control of just deploying patches and updates to computers on the network. As such, it is a lot easier to use than the full-blown ECM. With an application of this complexity, installation is quite difficult. ECM needs a dedicated Windows 2000 or 2003 server, which is part of a domain. For the web console, you will need to install IIS5 and, finally, you need a SQL Server sitting on the network. This acts as a repository for all the information scanned. Once ECM is installed, SUM can be installed on top of it. We are pleased to report that its interface is a lot easier to deal with than ECM's. The software only supports Microsoft applications and operating systems. Updates are via XML files, which have the advantage that you can change the way you view them. The scanning works through an agent on the local machine, which sends its information to a central SQL database. In practice, it makes it quick to deal with and gives you an offline record you can manage and sort. It also works across secure connections and through firewalls, provided you have set the appropriate rules. Updating computers with the latest patches is very easy. You can also create templates, such as all IE patches, and compare machines to it. This makes it easy to create a patch list that all computers should be running and force the install. It is one of the most advanced products we have seen on test – you can schedule the install and reboot times independently, for example. This is particularly useful for servers, so you can make sure that they are offline at quiet times. The licensing is competitive for SUM, but it becomes expensive when you include ECM. However, for current ECM users, it is an excellent piece of software, although we think it needs wider OS support.