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8 WSUS alternatives for patch management

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The use of Microsoft Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for patch management on Windows systems is a common practice among IT professionals. These tools are widely known, extensively used, and seamlessly integrated into the broader Windows ecosystem, making them ideal choices for organizations running Microsoft’s operating systems.

Microsoft Configuration Manager, previously known as System Center Configuration Manager and now part of the Microsoft Intune product family, offers robust patch management features. It assists administrators in handling the intricate tasks of tracking and applying updates by providing integrated tools for manual or automated software updates and control over the deployment of patches. Additionally, Configuration Manager encompasses various management functions, consolidating numerous administrative tasks related to Windows computers into a single tool.

While Configuration Manager utilizes WSUS for update synchronization and applicability scans, it’s worth noting that organizations can leverage WSUS independently. WSUS is a free server role in Windows Server designed for update management and distribution. Similar to Configuration Manager, WSUS serves as an integrated tool for patching Windows systems without incurring additional costs or overhead.

Despite the popularity of Configuration Manager and WSUS, both tools have their limitations. Configuration Manager is often criticized for its high cost, complexity, limited support for non-Windows platforms, and the requirement to be installed on Windows Server. On the other hand, WSUS can also be demanding in terms of licensing fees, and it’s known to be inefficient, cumbersome, and lacking in automation and reporting capabilities.

To address the shortcomings of Configuration Manager and WSUS, many organizations are turning to third-party patching tools that either extend the functionality of these tools or provide standalone solutions for patch management. These tools aim to streamline and simplify patching operations while offering greater control over the patch management process.

Several alternatives to WSUS and Configuration Manager are gaining traction in the market. Here are eight prominent options that offer diverse approaches to Windows OS and application updates:

1. Automox: A cloud-based system management tool that includes patch management, software distribution, reporting, and policy enforcement capabilities. It supports Windows, macOS, and Linux endpoints and offers single-click vulnerability remediation.

2. GFI LanGuard: Provides cross-platform patch management, vulnerability scanning, and network auditing with support for Windows, macOS, Linux, and third-party applications. It recently integrated generative AI for analytics.

3. Ivanti Security Controls: An enterprise-grade patch management tool for Windows, VMware ESXi, and Linux systems, offering patch deployment automation, privileged access management, and extensive reporting features.

4. Kaseya VSA: A cloud-based remote monitoring and management service with policy-based patch management, software deployment capabilities, and detailed patch status reporting.

5. ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus: Available as on-premises software or a cloud service, this tool supports Windows, macOS, Linux, and over 850 third-party applications, offering comprehensive patching, auditing, and reporting features.

6. PDQ Deploy: A lightweight software deployment tool for automating patch management on Windows Server and desktop computers, featuring prebuilt application packages, custom scripting options, and detailed reporting.

7. Quest KACE Systems Management Appliance: A unified endpoint management system that includes patch management, software distribution, mobile app support, and automated vulnerability scans for Windows, Linux, and macOS systems.

8. SolarWinds Patch Manager: Designed for organizations using WSUS or Configuration Manager, this tool extends patch management capabilities for Windows systems and third-party applications, offering advanced reporting, prebuilt application packages, and a user-friendly web console.

In conclusion, while Configuration Manager and WSUS remain popular choices for patch management on Windows systems, exploring alternative tools can provide organizations with enhanced capabilities, improved automation, and comprehensive reporting functionalities tailored to their specific needs. Third-party patching tools offer a diverse range of features and deployment options, empowering IT teams to efficiently manage updates, ensure system security, and maintain compliance across their environment.

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