What is Cloud Patch Management?

By Zach DeMeyer Posted January 9, 2020

IT organizations are offloading many day-to-day functions to cloud providers, including patch management. With cloud patch management, IT admins gain the benefits of managing patches to systems while foregoing much of the necessary work.

What is Patching?

Patches are updates released by software developers (of both operating systems and applications) as well as hardware manufacturers. A patch generally repairs existing bugs or puts preparations in place to prevent future ones. A patch can also add new functionality, but is often just called a new release or update. New versions of an operating system, a la macOS® Catalina™, are common examples of new releases, which can include bug fixes, changes, and new functionality.

In general, a system notification alerts a user that a new patch is available for installation. End users can then choose to update their system as necessary. In an organization, IT departments prefer to control these updates, and do so through patch management.

What is Patch Management?

When IT admins need to control how their users’ systems are patched, they implement a systematic way to do so. This process can be done manually; IT admins physically interface with systems, network equipment, applications, infrastructure, etc. to implement new patches and updates. Of course, for large enterprises, a manual patching process can take months (given their size), so manual patching is often a last resort.

In order to forego the manual work required for patching, IT organizations implement solutions that automate their patching needs. These patch management tools allow admins and/or network engineers to schedule patches and monitor their status before and after installation. Some smaller organizations outsource their patch management entirely, leveraging a managed service provider (MSP) or other similar resource instead of paying for and configuring a patch management solution.

Some patch management solutions are based entirely on-prem. In general, these solutions require dedicated servers, which in turn require initial configuration and ongoing maintenance to properly operate. Other solutions include scripts and configuration management tools. For fast-moving, modern organizations, the work required to manage these tools can be overwhelming.

What is Cloud Patch Management?

Organizations looking to offload the work of on-prem patch management tools need cloud patch management. A cloud patch manager enables all of the capabilities detailed above, but is leveraged entirely from the cloud. IT admins can control patches on remote user systems and, on the flip side, remotely manage patches while out of the office as well. There are examples of standalone cloud patch management solutions that could be options for IT admins.

For many, though, patch management is a subsection of the larger admin task: system management. A solution that solely deals in patch management means IT organizations need a handful of other solutions to fully manage their systems. Leveraging a cluster of solutions to do so can be frustrating and require both a lot of work and budgetary funds.

Cloud Patch Management Combined with System Management

A cloud directory service covers both system management needs and cloud patch management, all from a single interface. One such service is JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, the first cloud directory service.

Using JumpCloud, IT organizations can completely manage their system fleets (and user identities) from a single pane of administrative glass. In regards to cloud patch management, IT admins leverage JumpCloud to enforce patches and monitor their status using Policies and System Insights™.

Policies

Policies are the JumpCloud analogue to the popular Group Policy Objects (GPOs) of Microsoft® Active Directory®, except they can be leveraged across all major operating systems (Windows®, Mac®, Linux®). One such policy allows IT admins to dictate the nature and schedule of how patches are installed across system fleets. You can read the specifics on this policy here.

System Insights

System Insights is a JumpCloud premium offering which allows IT organizations to query individual systems to track their current OS and other application versions that require patching. Using this data, IT admins can identify which systems require patching and address them accordingly.

Beyond cloud patch management, JumpCloud provides users with a single username and password pair to access virtually all of their IT resources (systems, applications, networks, infrastructure, file servers, and more). IT organizations can then implement other security features such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), full disk encryption (FileVault 2 and Bitlocker) and other security-specific Policies to protect their users’ identities.

Learn More

If you are interested in cloud patch management combined with full identity and access management, look no further than JumpCloud. You can try the product absolutely free just by signing up for an account, which includes 10 users to get you started. Contact us to learn more.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a writer and researcher for JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, making music, and soccer.

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