Resources for integrating Dell and Microsoft patch management

Dell and Microsoft have teamed up to offer better patch distribution across their product lines.

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You might already know that Dell Inc.'s OpenManage 4 software works with Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 to offer customers a centralized view of all Dell PowerEdge servers connected to their network. This pairing allows you to use the SMS 2003 tools to roll out new copies of firmware and BIOS updates as well as new drivers for Dell servers just like you would roll out other software updates through that console. The recently upgraded SMS 2003 Inventory Tool for Dell Updates improves the ease of tracking and deploying Dell updates through SMS 2003.

The new Inventory Tool for Dell Updates eliminates the need to launch both products to do a complete inventory and deploy those hardware and software updates. If you're already running Dell Update Packages with Microsoft Systems Management Server, now is the time to move to this new tool. It is fully automated and gives a single view of Microsoft software and Dell PowerEdge servers on a network and any upgrades that are needed.

The two companies are looking even further down the road toward removing some pain points from their platforms. One way is through the use of two standards specifications that they are committed to presently. The two standards are the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) standard, ratified by the Distributed Management Task Force Inc., and WS-Management, a newer Web services specification that provides a common way for systems to access and exchange management and administration information.

SMASH seeks to create a set of common commands across platforms. Using SMASH, administrators on a management station will be able to use consistent commands -- such as power on and off, display system logs and change boot order -- across hardware from many different vendors.

The WS-Management standard describes a simple object access protocol, or SOAP-based protocol, for managing systems such as PCs, servers, devices, Web services and anything else capable of being "managed." The standard's intent is to provide a universal language that any device can use to share and exchange data about local and remote server hardware so administrators can have a unified view of their network management.

If you're interested in deploying the Dell/Microsoft solution today, here are some links to resources that can help you:

About the author: Jonathan Hassell is author of Hardening Windows (Apress LP), and is a site expert. Hassell is a systems administrator and IT consultant residing in Raleigh, N.C., who has extensive experience in networking technologies and Internet connectivity. He runs his own Web-hosting business, Enable Hosting. His previous book RADIUS (O'Reilly & Associates), is a guide to the RADIUS authentication protocol and offers suggestions for implementing RADIUS and overall network security. Ask Hassell a hardening Windows question today.

This was first published in October 2005

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