Vendor extends patch tools to Linux, Unix

Patch management vendor New Boundary Technologies is expanding the range of its software beyond Windows to answer user demands for cross-platform support that will address vulnerabilities, regardless of where they exist on the network.

Prism Patch Manger 6.3 features support for Red Hat Linux and Solaris, as well as Windows versions, from NT to the latest XP desktop, and Windows Server 2003.

"Usually with larger enterprises you have many different systems so you need to figure out how to manage all of them," says Jasmine Noel, a principal with Ptak, Noel and Associates. "It's no good to secure your Microsoft system if you have a Linux or Unix system with a gaping hole."

On top of cross-platform support, New Boundary also is adding an uninstall feature and support for Microsoft Corp.'s Visio and Project. The software also includes new management controls for grouping machines for those users who are not using Active Directory.

Users are beginning to recognize that patch management is key to their security goals. Savvy companies are beginning to make patch tools part of a larger process that includes a set of internally developed policies and procedures to ensure known vulnerabilities are resolved before they can be exploited. The result is configuration management, asset management and network management vendors adding patching to their tool suite.

New Boundary - along with Shavlik Technologies, BigFix, PatchLink and other pure-play patch management vendors - is finding this domain a crowded one these days. Microsoft is expected to introduce new patch tools later this year, including a free server called Windows Update Services.

New Boundary says its cross-platform support, and support for Microsoft operating systems and applications, gives it an attractive set of tools.

Prism Patch Manager, which works in agent or agent-less mode, supports Red Hat Linux and Solaris. Its Windows support extends from the operating system into Microsoft applications such as SQL Server, Exchange and Office.

The new rollback feature in 6.3 ensures that any system can be returned to a known and good configuration if problems with a patch arise.

"The rollback was one feature that we were lagging on," says Kim Pearson, CEO of New Boundary. "Another key was getting into Linux and Solaris."

Prism also lets users scan their network by IP range, which lets users who do not use Microsoft's Active Directory create groups of machines they can target with specific patch deployments.

The management console for Prism Patch Manager 6.3 also has been upgraded to let administrators manage from one console multiple Prism patch repositories, which is a proprietary database developed by New Boundary.

The software also has been translated into Swedish and Chinese versions.

Prism Patch Manager 6.3 costs US$11 per user, per 100 users.