St. Bernard UpdateEXPERT
Strengths: Powerful and flexible, offering amultiple OS support and relatively simple deployment.
Weaknesses: Not the clearest management interface.
Verdict: An impressive all around solution that is well worth considering.
This new version of UpdateEXPERT offers additional features, including a dependency viewer and improved settings management. Its basic components are the Console, the Master Agent, the optional Leaf Agent, which communicate with the Master Agents via secure TCP/IP connections for the local management of clients, and the Agent installer
This useful configuration allows Leaf Agents to be deployed on locked down clients where remote management via RPC is not viable. Leaf Agents can also help to optimise performance by reducing remote administration by hosting some of the patch management overhead locally.
Setup was straightforward and pleasingly intuitive. We chose to install the Console and the Master Agent on the same machine, rather than the option of deploying them independently.
Once the Console and Master Agent were installed it was easy to use the Network view window to browse the network and identify any machines that we wished to manage. However, it is worth pointing out that the interface here was not the clearest among the applications tested.
To prevent privilege abuse, the Master Agent runs as a service and has no authority to perform remote management unless it has an admin’s user credentials. Subject to this safeguard, in order to start managing clients, we first had to indicate which ones we were authorised to query, perform installations and report on. This is simply accomplished by right clicking on the selected machines.
We were now able to open the application to check our managed workstations and display a clearly laid out list of updates that were already installed on the systems. Admins can also define update policies against which all managed systems can be measured, which makes it easy to identify any exceptions that need addressing.
The application facilitates simple and powerful management of patches for these platforms – Windows, Solaris and Red Hat Linux. But the emphasis seems to be towards Microsoft, with a comprehensive range of the Redmond firm’s applications supported, including SQL Server, Exchange, MDAC, Media Player, Office, Outlook and IIS.