PatchLink: Mixed ReviewsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-12-06 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 patchesincluding those for IBM's AIX operating systemwhich 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 areasand 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."
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
Transportation: Southwest Airlines,
Virgin Atlantic Airways
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