Reports of IT security hassles brought about by patch neglect would be funny if they weren't commonplace. As noted in our review from page 19 (March 10, 2003), keeping track and managing security patches can be a real pain. If you're responsible for an enterprise with at least a few dozen servers, various appliances, routers and switches, and a firewall or two, you have a huge management problem.
I know from recent reader polling that some IT managers are screaming out for a little automation in security management. Obviously 'set and forget' is only a dream, but I have noticed some recent product upgrades which promise some pain relief.
These include the eEye Digital Security's Retina Network Security Scanner, said to allow you to handle up to 65,000 individual IP addresses, and Shavlik Technologies' first major revision of its patch management product for Microsoft software which offers automated find-and-fix features.
There's also news about NetIQ's VigilEnt User Manager 1.0 which can create user profiles, provision access rights and delete network privileges for end users from a central management console. There's BMC new Patrol for Windows 3.0 and Patrol for Unix 9.0 server management software products which incorporate "best practices" for managing specific elements in a server environment.
Last week I met with InfoBlox, a small company courting some big enterprises in Australia. InfoBlox offers various appliances that claim to take the grunt work out of maintaining DNS (Domain Name System) and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), as well as simplifying the deployment of RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) servers.
Then again, what would you do for a crust if IT was truly automatic . . .
I've heard a range of IT unemployment stats including figures which run as high as 12 per cent. I know pollies such as Senator Alston say such a high number is bollocks but on the basis of anecdotal evidence, I'm not so sure that many in ranks of middle management and project management aren't struggling to find full-time work right now. Please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are such a person (eg a retrenched IT manager or similar) and would like to describe your experiences and insight in the space opposite.