Patch management overview and workflow

This topic provides an overview of patch management in BMC Server Automation, and introduces the set of tasks required to prepare for, set up, and execute patch management jobs.

Patch management overview

Patch management refers to the acquisition, testing, and installation of patches.

The patch administrator analyzes individual servers to determine which patches must be acquired and installed to comply with organizational standards. BMC Server Automation automates the process of building and maintaining a patch repository, analyzing target servers, and, if necessary, packaging and deploying patches. At the end of the process, reports are available to show compliance.

Notes

  • BMC recommends that you set up a small test group of servers and run the patch process on the group. Then, expand the process to all servers in the organization.
  • (Windows patching only) VMware Update Agent (VUM) uses the same stPatchAssessment.dll file that is used by Shavlik Protect Patch Engine. If you install the VMWare Update Agent on a machine with an RSCD agent, it unregisters the stPatchAssessment.dll file and you cannot perform patching on the target.

Supported platforms for patch management

The patch management feature in BMC Server Automation supports the following operating systems:

For detailed information about supported operating systems and versions, see the BMC Solution and Product Availability and Compatibility Utility.

Note

Patch management is supported for HP-UX and CentOS using an external tool called Vendor Patch Content (VPC). VPC is included as part of BMC Server Automation. For more information, see How to perform HP-UX or CentOS patch analysis using Vendor Patch Content.

An additional, separate package is provided for patch management on Solaris 11. For more information, see How to perform script-based patch analysis for Solaris 11.

Supported platforms for storing the patch repositories of patch catalogs

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Note

Repository servers for any operating system that are remote from the Application Server (for example, across a wan or slow network) are not supported.

Offline and online modes

BMC Server Automation includes two patch management modes:

  • Online mode — Patches are downloaded directly from the appropriate product site.
  • Offline mode — Patches are pre-downloaded to a local repository and patches are applied from the repository.

Use Offline mode if you work in an air-gapped environment, where the BMC Server Automation Application Server does not have external Internet access. In Offline mode, you use the BMC offline Patch Downloader utility to download metadata and payload information to a server with Internet access. After downloading, you can transfer the metadata and payload information (using removable storage) to the patch repository within the air-gapped environment.

The Patch Downloader utilities run scripts that use XML configuration files (samples are provided) containing required information such as the repository location, as well as filters used during downloading from the vendor website.

Patch management workflow

Patch management consists of the following tasks:

  1. Preparatory tasks
    1. Defining role-based permissions
    2. Configuring Global Configuration parameters
    3. (Windows only) Defining the location of Microsoft Windows installation media for Microsoft Office patch deployment
  2. (Offline mode only) Building an offline patch repository
    1. Downloading patch downloader utilities from BMC
    2. Preparing XML configuration files for downloading patch content
    3. Downloading patches to the offline patch repository
  3. Patching tasks
    1. Creating and updating a patch catalog
    2. Creating and running a Patching Job and a Remediation Job

These tasks are described in more detail in the following table:

Task

Description

Preparatory tasks

Defining role-based permissions

To create or update a catalog, you must be assigned a role that includes the necessary permissions. To facilitate division of responsibilities, you can assign permissions to one role or divide them between several roles.

For a list of the required permissions, see Minimum permissions for patching.

For details about assigning roles and permissions, see Managing Authorizations.

For a list of the required permissions for creating Patching Jobs and for deploying patches, see Minimum permissions for patching.

Configuring Global Configuration parameters

Global Configuration parameters provide basic information used during patch catalog creation and updating, as well as for Patch and Remediation Jobs. The following parameter groups are available:

  • All Operating Systems — Configuration parameter options for a proxy server.
  • Platform-specific groups for each platform (such as Windows and Solaris) — Parameters that apply only to that specific platform type
  • Shavlik URL Configuration — Configuration for connecting to Shavlik Technologies to download patch-related metadata for patching Windows software.

    For details about the global configuration parameters, see Global Configuration parameter list.

Defining the location of Microsoft Windows installation media for Microsoft Office patch deployment

(Windows only) To deploy Microsoft Office patches, BMC Server Automation must have access to a network location containing installation media for Microsoft Office. Because target servers can run different versions of Microsoft Office, you might need to specify a different location for each target server or smart group.

For details about defining locations of Microsoft Office patch media, see Defining location of Microsoft Windows installation media for Microsoft Office patch deployment.

Building an offline patch repository

(Offline mode only)

Obtaining the Patch Downloader utilities from BMC

From the BMC EPD site, download the appropriate utilities for building your offline repository. The utilities are platform-specific. You must know which platform you plan to use to download your patches.

For details, see Downloading patch downloader utilities.

Preparing XML configuration files for downloading patch content

Use the utilities that you downloaded from the BMC EPD site to prepare the XML configuration files for downloading the patch content.

For details, in Setting up the Offline Patch Downloader utility.

Downloading patches to the offline patch repository

To download the patch content, use the utilities that you downloaded from the BMC EPD site and the XML configuration files that you prepared.

For details, see the appropriate section for the platform type that you want to patch in Setting up the Offline Patch Downloader utility.

Patching

Creating and updating a patch catalog

For both types of repositories, online and offline, you create a patch catalog using the BMC Server Automation Console. Patches are added to the catalog as depot objects according to filters that you define for the catalog.

To ensure that you are working with valid patch content, you must run a Catalog Update Job before you run a Patch Job.

For details, see Creating a patch catalog.

Creating and running a Patching and Remediation Job

A Patching Job has two parts:

  • Analysis — Analyzes the configuration of target servers and determines the required patches.
  • Remediation —
    1. Downloads the payload from the vendor sites to the Patch Repository
    2. Packages the payload as a BLPackage
  • Creates a Deploy Job to apply the patches 

    You can choose to run only the Analysis part of a Patching Job, and then run Remediation later, or you can run Remediation immediately after the Analysis. 

    For details about Patching Jobs, see Creating a Patching Job. For details about running Remediation Jobs separately, see Remediating servers.

Additional Information on installed patches, configuration data, and more

The following methods can be used to obtain additional information:

  • Live browse — Use live browse to look at installed patches on the server, one server at a time. For more information about live browse, see Server browse options.

    Note

    Live browse on a server does not list non-security patches.

  • Snapshot Jobs — Snapshots can record the configuration of patches on a target server at a specific point in time. To take a snapshot, you must run a Snapshot Job. For more information, see Creating and modifying Snapshot Jobs.
  • Reports — For information about patch management reports, see the online technical documentation for BMC Decision Support for Server Automation.

Where to go from here

See Preparatory tasks for patch management to set up the patch management environment prior to building an offline patch repository (if you are using offline mode) or creating a patching catalog.

Related videos

The following video demonstrates how to perform Red Hat patching (starting with the creation of a patch catalog, and then execution of a Patching Job and a Remediation Job):

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2etiiyJz2c&feature=youtu.be

The following video demonstrates how to perform Windows patching and includes a discussion of the business advantages of automating the patching process with BMC Server Automation.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIkx2VcpVBw&feature=youtu.be

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