Management service provider Everdream this week will introduce a patch management tool designed to erase the shortcomings of the automated patch service Microsoft offers.Management service provider\u00a0Everdream\u00a0this week will introduce a patch management tool designed to erase the shortcomings of the automated patch service Microsoft offers.Everdream's PatchControl is a Web-based hosted application that adds a layer of management on top of Microsoft's Software Update Services (SUS) 1.0, a free service that lets corporate customers download patches to a server behind their firewalls for testing and subsequent deployment.End users have noted many shortcomings with SUS, such as the inability to report on what patches already are installed on a machine and if patches are installed properly. Microsoft has announced Windows Update Services (WUS) 2.0, which replaces SUS and adds some reporting features, but the ship date has slipped into the second half of this year."The reporting details are the big benefit of Everdream," says Marc Paley, manager of global IT services for Salesforce.com in San Francisco. He manages 30 servers and 500 desktops. "If something failed halfway through installation, PatchControl tells us why." And Paley says his remote users can get the latest patches without having to connect to the corporate network.PatchControl works through an agent installed on desktop PCs or servers running the Windows operating system. The agent collects a system inventory and aids in software distribution. The tool is an introductory version of Everdream's Patch Management service.PatchControl doesn't replace Microsoft's SUS. Instead it relies on SUS as the mechanism to automatically download new patches from Microsoft. However, Everdream can host the SUS server, or it can be deployed within a company's network.The PatchControl interface provides a mechanism for setting policies such as when patches are installed. Everdream tests the patches before offering them for deployment, but end users can request expedited installation of critical patches. PatchControl's Remote Deployment Kit lets users deploy patches to individual machines, to a range of IP addresses or by subnets. A logging feature provides access to patch data such as successful installations and failures.PatchControl doesn't solve the problem of patching other Microsoft software such as Exchange and SQL Server. Everdream says users can contract for additional services to include those systems. The ability to patch systems beyond the Windows operating system is one of the major upgrades coming in Microsoft's WUS 2.0.Patching and security is a major sore spot for Microsoft customers. While Microsoft scrambles to fix the problems, Everdream is but one of many vendors, including BigFix, Shavlik Technologies, St. Bernard Software and PatchLink, which offer a life line to corporate users."What we have is a layer of management tools that complement what Microsoft is offering for free," says Lyndon Rive, founder of Everdream.PatchControl costs $1 per user, per year. Everdream offers additional services that can be integrated, including license inventory, asset management and help desk tools.