SCCM Upgrade Checklist | Automate Patch Management in the Cloud

Many organizations are looking to make a full transition from on-premise tools to SaaS (software as a service) products. This shift represents another big change in modern infrastructure, and it is no wonder cloud-native solutions are changing the way enterprises manage endpoints and deploy patches. While legacy patch management platforms have been around for decades, many of these options were designed for a different era.

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, especially with the rise of remote work we have seen in recent times. SaaS-based patching platforms give users the ability to keep up with the needs of modern infrastructure and manage all their endpoints from a single interface, no matter where they are located or what operating system is being used. Cloud-based tools offer more scalability, are easier to implement, and can help reduce overcomplexity in patch management workflows.

However,  there are still some considerations organizations should consider before making the switch from an on-premise SCCM solution (System Center Configuration Manager).

Patching for Organizations of Every Size

Generally speaking, SCCM is best-suited for larger organizations with at least 1,000 machines (but typically, 5,000). SCCM can be expensive to obtain; for a smaller enterprise, the cost may not be justifiable. Since it is part of a Microsoft licensing agreement, it is not uncommon for use of SCCM to be compulsory. SCCM is predominantly designed for Windows and users must then find other tools to manage alternative operating systems.

The SCCM cost burden alone can already be burdensome for smaller organizations and the additional expenses of needing to obtain and manage multiple tools to patch alternative operating systems and third-party applications can add up quickly. For these enterprises, the time spent on configuring, managing and deploying patches from multiple interfaces can also deplete employee resources.

Conversely, cloud-based patching solutions allow users to patch for Windows as well as alternative operating systems from a single platform and can help streamline patching workflows. Cloud-native tools like Automox are scalable and can easily be expanded to grow with an organization -- and the SaaS approach to patching and endpoint management makes cyber hygiene best practices more accessible to smaller organizations without breaking the bank.

SCCM Upgrade Checklist | Automate Patch Management in the Cloud

Consider Your Patch Management Needs

For many organizations, a full shift to cloud-based endpoint management is an ideal alternative to legacy patching solutions. In environments where full control over content is not a requirement, cloud-based patching platforms offer a novel approach to endpoint management. However, some industry requirements may necessitate the use of an on-premise patching platform. In these scenarios, regulations may stipulate that organizations need full control over what content is getting pushed to their devices -- or that tools need to be approved before they can be implemented. Because of this, IT operations may stick with a tool like SCCM simply because it’s what was approved or given to them, even if there are drawbacks.

However, even if a 100-percent switch to the cloud is not feasible, organizations may still benefit from integrating a cloud-based endpoint management platform alongside their on-premise solutions.

Consider Existing SCCM Infrastructure

When making the switch from an on-premise patching solution like SCCM, it is important to ensure existing infrastructure is decommissioned properly. Taking steps to ensure tool sets and applications for managing devices are turned off correctly, and uninstalling agents that will no longer be needed, is crucial to making a smooth transition from SCCM to the cloud. By decommissioning these aspects of infrastructure accordingly, organizations can prevent disruptions in their patch management workflow.

Ensuring that existing hardware, such as patching servers, are taken care of properly is also critical when transitioning from on-premise patching to the cloud. Patching servers that are not decommissioned correctly can become forgotten and may pose a security risk later down the road.

Cloud-based endpoint management eliminates the need for on-premise hardware like servers, and Automox also gives users the ability to reduce the overall number of tools needed to manage and secure endpoints. Switching to a SaaS-based platform eliminates the need for ongoing server maintenance and configuration, and the headache that goes along with it.

SCCM is geared towards Windows-only environments; organizations with diverse infrastructure may find that they are decommissioning multiple tools and bits of hardware as they make the switch to the cloud. However, adopting a SaaS-based approach to patching provides a new level of ease and simplicity to the patch management process.

SCCM Upgrade Checklist | Automate Patch Management in the Cloud

Adjusting to Cloud-Based Patching

Patching with the cloud may feel a little different than your traditional on-premise solution like SCCM. With on-premise solutions, issues with client response are common. And when a client fails to respond to the patching server, patches may not be received. Consequently, vulnerabilities can end up going unpatched for a long time before being detected. Cloud-native solutions also eliminate the need for on-premise server management, but they do not locally cache commands. However, cloud-native platforms can actually be integrated with on-premise patching platforms. For instance, SCCM relies on the WSUS framework to deploy patches. For organizations that need local command caching, Automox can be integrated with WSUS framework to provide that feature.

Across the board, cloud-based tools like Automox are far easier to understand and implement. The Automox agent can be installed on virtually any device and is ready for use in just a few minutes. As a modern, SaaS-based solution, the user interface is easy to grasp and it doesn’t take long for users to learn how to use the platform. Conversely, it takes an average of 40 hours to even begin to understand the basics of SCCM -- and around six months for users to gain proficiency. This is a huge time investment for organizations and their IT staff, who are often already overburdened by the complexities of on-premise patching.

In most use cases, adapting to cloud-based patching should be a breeze.

Switching from Microsoft SCCM to the Cloud

For many organizations, making the switch to cloud-based patching is an easy choice. In addition to eliminating much of the cost burden associated with on-premise patching solutions like SCCM, cloud-native platforms like Automox can help streamline the process of managing patch deployment and protecting endpoints. SCCM and other on-premise tools are often limited in their ability to patch across multiple locations and secure remote devices due to a reliance on VPNs (virtual private networks), but as a cloud-native solution, Automox makes it possible to patch across multiple geographic locations from a single interface, and remote devices can be secured no matter where they are located.

When users are making the switch from SCCM to cloud, it is important to consider all of an organization’s needs. Some industries may necessitate the use of an on-premise patching solution; however, a cloud-native endpoint management solution may still be a viable option for integration. Automox can be integrated with WSUS infrastructure to allow for local command caching, which is a great option for organizations with those needs.

Automated, cloud-native endpoint management tools provide a modern patching solution designed for today’s digital landscape. While patch management is not a one-size-fits-all process, cloud-based platforms can help many organizations reduce costs and do away with the burdens associated with legacy patch management options such as SCCM.

About Automox Automated Patch Management

Facing growing threats and a rapidly expanding attack surface, understaffed and alert-fatigued organizations need more efficient ways to eliminate their exposure to vulnerabilities. Automox is a modern cyber hygiene platform that closes the aperture of attack by more than 80% with just half the effort of traditional solutions.

Cloud-native and globally available, Automox enforces OS & third-party patch management, security configurations, and custom scripting across Windows, macOS, and Linux from a single intuitive console. IT and SecOps can quickly gain control and share visibility of on-prem, remote and virtual endpoints without the need to deploy costly infrastructure.

Experience modern, cloud-native patch management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you're currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in-class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.

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