How automation and patch testing should fit with your IT strategy

Contending with hackers is not a battle, but a race. Whomever finds the needle-in-a-haystack line of buggy code within a piece of software first, will be the one to determine what happens next: the hacker will exploit the vulnerability, to either gain access to systems or to hold data at ransom – a practice which has become all the more devastating in the light of the fines associated with GDPR – whereas IT administrators must be equipped to promptly seal the gap, patching wherever necessary to prevent further breaches.

Hackers are developing faster, smarter and more innovative approaches to exploit these vulnerabilities, buying and selling access and tools, spreading their risk and making the most of their skill sets across different areas. This means that organisations that don’t deploy the right tools to keep up, will fall behind. On such way of giving IT administrators the edge in this arms race is by minimising the human element from the equation and injecting a degree of automation to carry out basic – yet crucial – routine tasks via a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution.

Patching to free up talent

Due to the perpetual nature of patch management, an unnecessary amount of an IT administrator’s precious time may be spent on monotonous and repetitive work, such as visiting each device to apply or check the status of patches. This not only wastes time, but constrains the collaborative power of internal IT teams to focus on innovation – the lifeblood of the modern organisation.

Deploying a UEM solution means skirting around long and laborious processes of collecting, repackaging and disseminating patches, freeing up the creative space to allow internal innovative power to be cultivated. More specifically it means investing in a very smart orchestrator that is not affected by the human limitations of manual labour, tiredness and error, freeing up the space to invest in areas that actually generate revenue. As a result, UEM solutions create a tangible ROI in recovered time and money.

Do’s & don’ts of patching

By managing the regularity of patch management, UEM underpins a broader set of best practices for keeping endpoints safe and up-to-date. These include collating vulnerability information, collecting third-party software patches and importing and packaging patches for deployment. One of the most important patching practices for evading disruption is patch testing, which can also be facilitated through an effective UEM strategy.

Before a patch can be rolled-out throughout an organisation, it first must be determined to be well-packaged and ready for the live environment. While it is the responsibility of a software vendor to ensure the readiness of patches to address software vulnerabilities and faulty lines of code, this testing phase is imperative for checking the compatibility of patches to applications on the network. Once assessed ready for deployment, a UEM system will initiate a company-wide roll out and then provide visibility on the status of the success of the roll-out, i.e. to ensure that every single endpoint was reached and updated.

Automation begets innovation

In order to contend with the rapidly changing IT landscape, organisations need to be free, agile and not bogged down with monotonous and repetitive tasks when facing day-to-day IT management, such as keeping endpoints safe and up-to-date. In an age where business success is largely determined by an organisation’s ability to cultivate internal talent and deploy innovative IT solutions, the industrialised process of tending to individual endpoints individually is a pernicious drain of both financial and valuable intellectual resources.

Deploying automated solutions helps to free up the space necessary in order to cultivate this talent. Rather than viewing IT automation creating job redundancy among IT administrators, by taking the most mind-numbing tasks off their hands, automation will instead provide them with the space to cultivate the ideas of tomorrow and help them to achieve their objectives.

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