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Avanade Selling Process Improvements for Patch Management

Organizations looking for more than a tool to help with them cope with their patch management nightmares may be interested in a more holistic new consulting offering from Avanade.

Betting that patch management will continue to be a high priority in 2004, Avanade on Thursday launched a new service called the Avanade Patch Management Solution.

"It's not necessarily a technology problem. The best approach lies in people, process and technology," says Rick Birkenstock, technology infrastructure practice director of Avanade's U.S. West region.

While the tools vendors, such as Shavlik and St. Bernard, have long argued that patch management is about more than downloading patches, those companies have traditionally built the process into their tools. Services for patch management software vendors generally consists of keeping up to date with Microsoft patches -- no mean task -- but haven't generally extended to consulting engagements to build a process and expertise specific to a large organization's unique requirements.

Indeed, Avanade's approach doesn't toss out technology tools, consulting on selection of the right tools is built into Avanade's offering. But as much or more weight goes into making sure an organization is looking at patch management in a proactive way.

One of the most glaring holes in many client organizations, according to Birkenstock: a well-defined process for testing patches before deployment that makes sense for that organization's requirements.

Avanade is getting a lot of patch-related business, according to Birkenstock, who himself is involved in four or five patch management projects for customers. Birkenstock sees no near-term cooling off of the intense interest in patch management that started last year.

The Avanade service arises from a consulting engagement with Siebel Systems, which experienced downtime problems in its network of 2,200 servers and 12,000 workstations after the SQL Slammer worm a year ago. Siebel went to Microsoft; Microsoft sent Avanade, a joint venture of Microsoft and Accenture.

"Slammer was a watershed for a lot of Microsoft's customers. From that point forward, every customer that I went to talk to wanted to talk about patch management," Birkenstock says. "By August, it was a fever pitch."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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