As the global workforce grows increasingly interconnected, business leaders have had to make sweeping changes to their IT management processes. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many organizations’ transition to remote working environments, bring-your-own-device culture and digital transformation. This rapid technological evolution has introduced a variety of security and compliance challenges that are hard to ignore.
Patch management continues to be a major hurdle for organizations in nearly every industry. Software companies are constantly releasing new security updates, features and code changes that impact both performance and accessibility. The more applications and devices employees use, the higher the potential for unplanned downtime and dropped productivity. According to a survey from software developer harmon.ie, the average worker leverages 9.39 apps on a daily basis, with 43% of respondents believing they need to switch between platforms too frequently. As the number of in-use business applications grows, organizations must simultaneously expand their management capabilities to provide employees with the reliable, up-to-date systems they depend on.
Automated patch management
To help reduce the burden of managing software, application and operating system updates, many companies have chosen to integrate patch management tools into their workflows. These platforms, like Faronics’ Deploy application, allow IT administrators to acquire, test and install multiple patches on in-network devices as soon as they’re made available. This functionality can not only help maintain a higher level of IT enablement, it can also reduce the risk of cybersecurity incidents, configuration drift and zero-day exploits.
Traditionally, organizations managed applications and OS versions manually by scanning each workstation for missing or outdated patches. Over time, this process has proven to be inefficient and labor-intensive, particularly if employees are allowed to use their personal devices for work purposes. With millions of workers being abruptly moved to a remote capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, controlling updates has become even more complex — without a flexible management platform, end users would be solely responsible for applying critical patches. That’s where a cutting-edge patch management tool can help.
Thanks to automation and next-generation connectivity, today’s patch management solutions offer a lot more visibility and control compared to manual scanning processes. IT administrators can set up real-time alerts for Windows and Mac updates, cloud-based application patches and code changes to traditional software products like MS Office and Adobe Suite. This allows companies to build a more proactive patching framework and reduce the need for end user intervention.
More importantly, automated patch management can help reduce overhead IT costs by accelerating the discovery and resolution of unpatched vulnerabilities. According to research from Edgescan, it takes organizations an average of 67 days to close a discovered vulnerability. Providing IT professionals with real-time data on application and OS usage for every device can help streamline this troubleshooting process, leading to confident, evidence-based solutions.
On-premise vs. cloud patching
When selecting an automated patching platform, IT leaders must consider the needs of their end users and the limitations of their existing management solutions. For example, companies that haven’t yet committed to digital transformation may not be able to monitor devices remotely or send batch updates to employee-owned computers. Investing in a solution that offers these advanced capabilities is highly recommended for any organization that relies on a mix of legacy and cloud-based hardware. Of course, the application itself must also offer the flexibility IT support teams require to perform critical updates from anywhere, on any approved device. Here’s a quick breakdown of on-premise vs. cloud-based patch management solutions:
On-premise patch management
On-premise patch management is a common first step for organizations looking to incorporate some level of automation into their patching workflow. These types of solutions are well suited to internal deployments and on-premise devices, but rarely offer the end-to-end functionality needed to support hybrid environments. To avoid wasted spending, business leaders should also consider the total cost of ownership and the availability of vendor support. Generally, on-premise systems are more expensive and require a lot of manual configuration to perform reliably. What’s more, minor configuration issues in the deployment stage can have a cascading effect, introducing new inefficiencies into the equation that prevent workers from doing their jobs.
Cloud-based patch management
Cloud-based patch management, also called “cloud native” solutions, are specifically designed for the needs of hybrid infrastructures and remote environments. These platforms do not require internal servers or ongoing maintenance, as these tasks are performed by the cloud provider. This makes cloud-based tools the more cost-effective choice, especially for small businesses and enterprises with a global reach. Through one centralized console, IT administrators can effectively patch remote workstations, cloud servers and operating systems, either individually or in batches.
Another benefit of cloud patch management is that IT administrators can set specific rules for new updates that can help prevent them from shipping automatically. This gives IT departments the oversight they need to reduce compliance issues, test out new code updates before deployment and maintain a higher level of support for end users. Considering it takes 12 days on average for IT teams to apply a single patch across all devices, according to research from the Ponemon Institute, it’s important to prioritize visibility and control when selecting a new patching solution. Business leaders should also consider how the cloud can accelerate patching tasks by supporting device-agnostic workflows — when IT teams are able to access the platform from any internet-connected device, high-priority updates can be applied quickly and without unnecessary downtime.
Faronics’ Deep Freeze Cloud application is a leading patch management tool tailored to needs of today’s digital-centric organizations. Using this platform, companies can enhance their endpoint management capabilities, improve application security and streamline the deployment of critical patches from a single web-based console. Deep Freeze Cloud can perform both on-demand actions and pre-scheduled updates, which can help reduce unplanned downtime and minimize tech issues.