Microsoft’s free updating system, WSUS, provides small and medium-sized businesses a way to create a semi-automated patching process with no upfront cost. WSUS does remove some manual elements of patching, but it has significant limitations both in the system itself and the functions it is designed to perform. IT Managers and SysAdmins working with WSUS frequently experience frustrations due to configuration difficulties and the tool not correctly reporting on patch status. As networks add non-Windows systems they find that WSUS is not a viable option for all patching needs and begin to seek out affordable WSUS alternatives.
Alternatives to WSUS have been around for years, but historically these systems have been on-premise, enterprise-level solutions that are not accessible to smaller businesses. On-premise patching automation systems require additional infrastructure and maintenance, so the labor needed to maintain them along with the actual system costs are prohibitive for the majority of businesses. Additionally, legacy automation systems do not solve patching for mixed OS environments and cloud-based infrastructures, meaning even those with the budget to utilize these systems need additional tools to implement a complete patching solution.
Instead of installing on-premise automation systems, companies looking to control IT spend have been forced to work with a combination of WSUS and other free or low-cost tools for patching Mac, Linux, and 3rd party applications such as Java and Adobe.
While WSUS and other free tools may seem to save money, the labor needed to manually manage multiple patching tools and track patch status across the infrastructure is high. Fortunately, affordable WSUS alternatives have come on the scene in the past year.
Affordable WSUS Alternatives
Modern solutions provide patching-as-a-service and leverage the cloud to keep costs down. Automox, a leader in this space, offers a cloud-native patching automation service that can adapt to every company’s needs, from small businesses to enterprises, at an affordable cost that scales depending on your infrastructure needs.
Because Automox is deployed through a lightweight, cloud-native agent, it does not require additional servers to manage and can update itself remotely. Automox replaces WSUS by automatically patching Windows systems natively, and goes several steps further, patching Mac, Linux, and 3rd party applications as well. Additionally, Automox users get access to a robust reporting system which removes the need for SysAdmins to manually double-check that patches have been properly installed, as is often the case with WSUS.
Older patching automation systems also lack the flexibility necessary to retain control of the patching process, a necessity as patching impacts many systems and can result in network disruptions if not administered properly. Automox solves this problem by providing users control over the level of automation, with options to approve patches before they are applied, blacklist patches, and integrate into existing patch testing workflows.
WSUS has become an outdated tool, unable to solve the needs of today's mixed OS, hybrid infrastructures. Microsoft’s automated tool, SCCM, is pricey and still has many of the limitations of WSUS when it comes to natively patching 3rd party software and other operating systems. Known limitations and the hidden costs in labor and server upkeep tilt the value decision toward affordable cloud-native solutions like Automox as an alternative to WSUS.
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