Council slashes software patching time

Wolverhampton Council has cut the time it takes to secure its systems against viruses from weeks to less than 24 hours through...

Wolverhampton Council has cut the time it takes to secure its systems against viruses from weeks to less than 24 hours through systems management software from Microsoft.

The Council has said that 95% of its 1,700 PCs can now be patched within 24 hours of a software update being released, compared to four- to eight weeks previously. Under the old system IT staff had to download patches from different websites and update PC with patches.

Microsoft’s Systems Management Server updates patches on all PCs once, from a single location.

The Council’s local area network manager, Matt Jeavons, said that during the Blaster worm attack last year SMS 2003 software patches could be updated quickly using SMS, saving the IT department 40 man-hours.

“An ageing infrastructure was causing stability and support issues and as part of the infrastructure refresh project an improved means of managing the enterprise was identified as a key requirement. Prior to the introduction of SMS 2003 the council had to patch manually. It was taking anything between four and eight weeks,” Jeavons said.

Glyn Evans, chairman of information age group at local authority IT managers association Socitim, said councils were taking the management of software more seriously. “This is within reach of all council,” he said. “With the threat that now exists you need to keep all the software reasonably up to date. There is a great deal of merit in anything that automates the process.”

But there is no one approach that will work for all councils, Evans said. “Local authorities vary so tremendously in size – some have a couple of hundred employees, while Birmingham has 50,000 so it is very difficult to say what applies to them all. It is the same principles, but the tools might be different.”

Other features of SMS allow Wolverhampton Council to measure software inventory and usage, helping to manage costs and inform future purchasing decisions.

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