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Patchlink gets behind Novell ZENworks Patch Management

Jun 03, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Patchlink offers tighter integration with ZENworks

Recently, in the Wired Windows column in Network World  (link below) I talked about patch management, and especially third party patch management – Microsoft’s products in this area leave a lot to be desired. Among others, I mentioned Patchlink, which has been around since the mid 1990s when it was known as Gravitix. However, the company itself is now almost 15 years old. Old timers may remember it better under the name HiTechSoft, the people who created NetBasic, the scripting language used in NetWare 4 and 5.

Gravitix/Patchlink originally only supported NetWare server patches. You’d run a utility from a workstation that would check with Patchlink to see if there were NetWare patches available that you hadn’t installed. If so it would offer to download them (or you could choose to have this done automatically) then distribute the patch to those servers needing it. Pretty basic stuff now, but a revolutionary concept at the time.

Over the years, Patchlink has added support for other operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) and improved the service it offers. Now it will maintain a patch profile of every computer and operating system that you have it monitoring while maintaining the ability to rollback previously installed patches. This means that, at any time, you could completely reconfigure one PC or your entire network of computers quickly and automatically without ever visiting a server or desktop – and roll it all back just as quickly and easily if there was a problem.

And now you can get Patchlink with the Novell ZENworks brand on it. Officially called “Novell ZENworks Patch Management, powered by PatchLink Corporation,” the product is usually referred to as ZENworks Patch Management (ZPM). Out of the box, ZPM supports NetWare servers and Windows desktops, but I’m sure Linux support isn’t far behind. Otherwise, the product works almost exactly the same way as the stand-alone Patchlink but with tight integration to ZENworks, NetWare and eDirectory (for reporting, authentication, rules processing, etc.).

One neat feature for managed applications is that when a new installation of shrink-wrapped software or an operating system occurs, ZPM automatically applies all existing updates and, if necessary, can even roll back to a previous patch configuration to ensure that all systems meet corporate standards. That’s neat.

ZPM also incorporates patent-pending technology called “Patch Fingerprinting” which works interactively between server and client to detect security vulnerabilities, and provides a fast and intuitive method for immediately correcting them across enterprise boundaries. That should let you sleep a little easier at night.

Find out more about ZENworks Patch Management at where you can also download an evaluation package or get the full (beta) release of the ZENworks 8.5 Suite. Try it for yourself and see how easy automated patch management can be.