PatchLink: Mixed Reviews

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-12-06 Print this article Print

PatchLink gets mixed reviews. Some think it's great; others have had problems.

Will the real PatchLink please stand up? Some customers think it's the greatest in its field, while at least one abandoned the software in frustration.

Giving the thumbs up is Jason Hittleman, manager of information systems at fuel distributor RKA Petroleum Cos. He says PatchLink thoroughly tests patches—including those for IBM's AIX operating system—which is a huge benefit to him. "PatchLink does a good job of 'de-dummy-fying' patches and explaining what they mean," he says.

Bill Cassada, enterprise network administrator at disease-treatment services firm American Healthways, says his team picked PatchLink because it was more accurate than any other product at identifying vulnerabilities and also because it was easy to deploy and manage. "Our company looks at PatchLink as the authoritative source for whether a system needs a patch," Cassada says.

Not every customer has been as pleased. Fermilab, the particle physics research laboratory in suburban Chicago, had "numerous problems with PatchLink," says Joe Klemencic, computer security coordinator at the lab. Among the glitches his team enountered: mysteriously "disappearing" client agent software that required reinstallation and inaccurate reports of which patches had been applied.

Chris Andrew, PatchLink's vice president of product management, says such issues can arise if client agents "are not properly managed" or if there's a mismatch between agent and server versions. But Klemencic says Fermilab worked with PatchLink technical support on both of those areas—and still couldn't resolve the problems. Fermilab last year decided to use Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 for patching.

Meanwhile, others say PatchLink is usually right on top of fixing its own software. Jim Czyzewski, senior information systems specialist at hospital operator MidMichigan Health, runs PatchLink on 1,700 Windows machines. Recently, on about a dozen PCs, PatchLink's agent software had a "memory leak," which degrades system performance. PatchLink eventually traced the problem to a conflict with a new version of McAfee's virus-scanning software and notified customers about how to fix it.

Czyzewski was briefly annoyed that PatchLink didn't alert him to the issue sooner. But he says that was one of the few times he's ever been unhappy with its products or services. "I have a very high regard for the company," he says, adding: "We haven't had an outbreak since we put it in."

Security Patch Management

8515 E. Anderson Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 970-1025

TICKER: Privately held


Corey M. Smith
President & CEO
Hired in August. Formerly president of XcelleNet (now part of Sybase) and Central Point Software (acquired by Symantec).

Suzanne Swanson
Senior VP, Business Development
Previously in charge of global sales to personal computer manufacturers at Symantec. Before that, she headed sales for SecurityFocus, a threat-alert service provider acquired by Symantec in 2002.

PatchLink Update detects vulnerabilities and applies patches for Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, NetWare and Macintosh systems. Enterprise Reporting Server (ERS) gathers and analyzes patch, vulnerability and inventory information.
Reference Checks

Lockheed Martin
Rich Faulkner
Program Mgr., Patching Solutions
Project: Defense contractor expects to have PatchLink installed on 6,800 Windows and Unix servers at 300 sites by the first quarter of 2006.

Midmichigan Health
Jim Czyzewski
Senior IS Specialist
Project: Four-hospital system deployed PatchLink to 1,700 desktops, most running Windows 2000, in September 2004.

American Healthways
Bill Cassada
Enterprise Network Administrator
Project: Disease-management services company in Nashville, Tenn., manages patches on 3,000 Windows desktops with PatchLink.

RKA Petroleum
Jason Hittleman
Mgr., IS
(734) 946-2199
Project: Fuel marketer and distributor in Romulus, Mich., uses PatchLink to update 50 Windows desktops and two AIX servers.

Safe Credit Union
Marc Buzard
Mgr., Network Services
Project: Credit union in California uses PatchLink to update operating system and application software on 450 Windows and Mac computers and 110 Windows and Unix servers.

Advanced Behavioral Health
Gabriel Selmi
Network Administrator
Project: Nonprofit organization, which coordinates mental-health treatment services, uses PatchLink on 175 laptops and desktops.

Executives listed here are all users of PatchLink's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Revenue, 2004: $20M (OneSource est.)
Funding: $40.6M to date
Investors: BA Venture Partners, Bay Partners, Government of Singapore Investment Corp.,
Granite Global Ventures, OffRoad Capital
No. of customers reported: 3,100

Microsoft, Novell, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Scottsdale, Ariz. (headquarters); College Park, Md.; London; Singapore; Hong Kong; Sydney, Australia

Financial services: Bank of America, Chubb, Liberty Mutual, State Street Bank
Government: NASA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Manufacturing: General Mills, Rubbermaid, The Sherwin-Williams Co.
Media: Gannett, Knight Ridder
Pharmaceutical: Schering-Plough
Transportation: Southwest Airlines,
Virgin Atlantic Airways


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.