This is part of Altiris's Client Management Suite and Server Management Suite. Both suites also provide OS deployment, hardware and software inventories, and software license compliance. However, it can be installed by itself.
The software uses a SQL server database, which it installs and configures, to store all the information on managed computers. Management of this information is performed through the web console, so you have control of your patch management from wherever you are located.
The console is also what you use to install the add-ons. In this case, we installed the Patch Management Solution. Once installed, it is time to deploy the agent to remote computers. The agent gathers information from the local machine and sends it to the SQL database.
The information gathered can then be queried in different ways by the different components of the management suite. Patch Management Solution only works with Microsoft-based OSs and clients, but the local agent ensures scanning is both accurate and fast.
Using the system is a matter of building up the key components. For example, we first had to start by defining a software inventory schedule. This task performs a scan and returns an inventory of all software, including its service pack and patch status.
Actually, deciding which patches to install and how is taken care of through the Tasks panel. The Bulletins screen lets you download the latest patch information. And you can sort it by a range of criteria including severity and software – particularly useful if you have multiple admins looking after different applications.
Once you select the patches you want to install, the software distribution agent steps in and schedules the update and reboots.
You can track the progress through the management console using the built-in queries, or you can write a new SQL query if you want to find out a specific piece of information.
As a standalone patch management application, it is large and over-complex. But this is not how it is supposed to be used. Tight integration between components and a suite of tools make it a power application for managing all aspects of your computers. If you want all your management in one place, this is a good choice.