Large businesses using Automatic Updates?? – Never heard of SUS?

Omg. I am continuously perplexed at how corperate IT is run around the world. Here is another halarious example.

Microsoft started distributing their new Service Pack 2 via Automatic Updates last week, but had to stop short of updating Windows XP Proffesional PC’s, because as it turns out, there are rather a lot of businesses that seem to rely on Automatic Updates.

“When we designed Automatic Updates, we had consumers and small businesses in mind. We have been surprised by the number of enterprises who use Automatic Updates,” said Jon Murchinson, a program manager at Microsoft. (From Computerworld.com, read the rest of the article here)

Now while Windows XP Home edition pc’s have been recieving SP2, MS has chosen to wait a week for XP Pro, and give admins a change to block Automatic Updates (via a registry key), until they can prepare and test properly.  I mean.. they’ve only had SINCE DECEMBER last year to prepare and test properly!!

Anyway. The reason I am rolling around the floor laughing, is that there is no valid reason I can think of, that you would want to make your corperate client park dependant on Automatic updates! its just a bad idea, and any admin with a fragment of sense should know this. I mean.. admins who use this feature for their client park, must somehow have missed the whole discussion about Automatic Updates when XP first came out!

People already expressed their concern back then, that if one relied soley on this mechanism, one risked the change of a ‘faulty’ patch, screwing things up seriously. And god knows this has happed in the past with MS hotfixes, and SP2 is of course the ultimate example.

But because this is of course a totally clear and recognized issue, Microsot came out with a totally clear and recognized solution: Software Update Services!

Now Software Update Services, better known as SUS, is basicly nothing more than a proxy server for Automatic updates, but it gives you the ability to control the distribution of updates and hotfixes, by letting you authorize patches on the server, before they are distributed to your client park. This gives you ample time to test patches and updates, before you hit the relevant checkbox.

Now SUS has been around for about as long as Windows XP has, and Microsoft extensivly supports its use and implimentation, i mean, I cant turn two pages of a Microsoft whitepaper without beign reminded about it!

So how come all these stupid businesses are not using it then! For Pete’s sake! I mean, its a FREE download! It works on Windows Server 2000 and 2003, and uses next to no resources, except perhaps hard disk space if you choose to store patches locally.

The reasons that these companies possibly have for not using SUS, may perhaps be perfectly valid reasons, involving resource management, connectivity issues, that kind of thing, even though, if anything, SUS solves more problems that it could cause, if it can cause any problems at all! (??!)

I think the main reason admins have not started using it, boils down to two reasons: A. Lazyness, B. ignorrence.

Point A: Installing SUS doesnt take 5 minutes. Anyone with half an ounce of IIS knowledge can do it, and if you are going a bit further than your average SUS implementation, and doing a multi-forward-WAN setup or something, then you might have to spend some time thinking though how your gonna deploy it.

All you need thereafter is some cool Group Policy Settings, or , if you are in the stone age and still have an NT4 domein with XP clients, some hand-made registry settings for Poledit.

And that is about it!  About a days work for the average enterprise, and you have completely streamlined your patch-management process! What could be cooler?! Cant be too hard to convince your IT manager to give you the time to do it, considdering the benefits!

But point B is trickier.

Like i have said in earlier rants, I am constantly coming across admins that seem to have burried their collective heads in the sand when it comes to IT and the developments in that field. People like that may very well never have heard of SUS, or all the work that MS is actually doing into correcting their security issues of old.

Now personally, I would like to take all these kind of admins out into the parking lot, and shoot them, but that would be rather challenging considdering that they seem to be in the majority.

Inept system admins, or IT managers, are the whole reason that worms like Blaster and Sasser are succesfull, and the reason that dispite everything MS or anyone else does for security, and exactly because it is the most used OS on the planet, it will always remain vulnerable, primairly because of human failing.


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