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See our Analyst Assessment, right, for evaluation criteria and ratings.Two main decision points for companies choosing a patch management suite are breadth of operating system support and dependence on agents, and we saw a lot of variation here.In November, we went in search of a way to automatically shield our systems from the thousands of application vulnerabilities that will hit this year.Five vendors took part in our Patch Management Rolling Review, sending products to our Windward Consulting Real-World Labs: Big Fix, Kaseya, LANDesk, Lumension, and Shavlik.We also liked its distributed architecture and support for a broad base of operating systems and apps.On the downside, all this functionality comes with a learning curve, as Big Fix's terminology and structure are different from what's standard in the rest of the patch management field.Though we found some great agent management utilities, sometimes the requirement to install one more piece of software is a deal breaker.
LANDesk's Patch Manager is, like Big Fix, part of a comprehensive endpoint management package.Big Fix and LANDesk are multifunctional endpoint management suites that include patching, while Lumension's Patch Link is purely a patch manager.Big Fix's Enterprise Suite excels at bandwidth management, allowing both static and dynamic throttling while enabling settings to control bandwidth at endpoint, server, and all distribution points.We found its user interface a tad cumbersome, but of all the products tested, Patch Manager was the only one with an automated process to facilitate ITIL change management practices--a huge plus.
For multiplatform patching, consider Lumension's Patch Link Update, LANDesk's Patch Manager, and Big Fix's Patch Management Enterprise Suite.
Each supports varied Windows, Linux, and Unix platforms; provides robust patch deployment features; and regularly updates the patch content available.