Here are patch management best practices:
- Download approved patches to a test server (or virtual machine) and validate that they don’t conflict with any application-specific modifications.
- Use a change management process to track changes to the test environment.
- Test in different configurations such as domain controllers, workstations, member servers, and test labs.
- Deploy patches using a test plan that includes role-based checks of functionality.
- Test patches before applying them to live infrastructure.
- Develop an inventory of hardware and software, including applications and service packs installed on each system.
- Monitor the patch deployment process for all systems, including the test environment.
- Capture screenshots of pre-and post-patch configurations for all systems.
- Capture detailed application and service pack inventories for all systems.
Let us discuss each of these in detail below:
Patch Management Best Practices
Download approved patches to a test server (or virtual machine) and validate that they don’t conflict with any application-specific modifications.
Change control processes are important because they ensure that changes to the environment are managed, tracked, and documented. The change control process should include review, approval, and testing of all proposed changes.
When you download patches to a test server, you have an opportunity to validate the software compatibility of each patch before you deploy it onto your production network. This validation is important because there may be conflicts between patches and applications or operating systems. It might be easy to overlook these conflicts during a brief test of a patch, only to find out later that the patch doesn’t work as expected.
Furthermore, many patches affect the core components of an operating system. Testing the impact of these patches will help you determine which applications can run on the patched system and which ones need to be removed from the system before deployment.
Use a change management process to track changes to the test environment.
Change management is one of the most important aspects of a mature IT infrastructure. It is especially important to have a change control process in place before you start deploying patches. The purpose of the change control process is to allow authorized people to approve or reject proposed changes to the environment. Changes can be proposed by anyone from a system administrator, an application owner, or an end-user.
It is critical for change requests to be reviewed and approved by all stakeholders before the changes are made. This helps ensure that no proposed changes will compromise the security or performance of the environment.
Test in different configurations such as domain controllers, workstations, member servers, and test labs.
Another important best practice for patch management is testing patches in different configurations on your network. For example, it’s important to verify that you can deploy patches without disrupting services that run on your domain controllers or workstation computers. Also, it’s important to determine whether the patch will impact functionality when installed on different operating systems or hardware configurations. These tests help you identify any compatibility issues between applications and patches before they become an issue in production.
Deploy patches using a test plan that includes role-based checks of functionality.
When you deploy patches onto your production environment, it is advised that you should use a test plan that includes role-based checks of functionality. A test plan contains instructions on how to deploy patches on various systems in your network and what steps should be taken if there are issues with patch deployment.
A test plan also outlines the steps for troubleshooting any problems that arise after patch deployment. In addition to testing individual systems, you should also test the entire network after patch deployment to ensure that all services are functioning normally after patch installation.