Analysts herald arrival of smart security patching tools

IT security managers can look forward to the arrival of enhanced patching technology which will automate and reduce the cost of installing software security and maintenance updates, industry experts have predicted.

According to a newly released report from Yankee Group, software patch management is developing to include features that are necessary to manage an upgrade process such as identifying new code versions, aid testing, installation and rollback.

The study, Need to Free Critical IT Resources Propels Patch Management, found that traditional software maintenance tools are better suited to software installation than security patching and code upgrades. It identified emerging next-generation patching offerings from firms including Shavlik, BigFix and PatchLink.

Yankee Group also noted that antivirus vendors with their installed base on enterprise desktops and servers are recognising the growing importance of software patching and configuration management.

Remote endpoint security vendors and service providers, such as iPass, Fiberlink and GoRemote (formerly GRIC) also have an opportunity to expand their presence from remote office to enterprise-wide deployment, the study stated.

"Soon we will quickly, cheaply and automatically patch and resolve problems. It will become less important to risk-assess each patch - although the cost of a software upgrade will go down, it will never be zero," said Phebe Waterfield, security solutions & services analyst with Yankee Group.

"It always will be advisable to apply patches where they are needed, rather than indiscriminately. Patch management is an extension of change control and asset management; vendors with expertise in these heavily process-oriented areas are the ones to watch."

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