VMware introduces new Shavlik based patch management solution

VMware announced today vCenter Protect Essentials, based on the Shavlik NetChk Protect product that it acquired earlier this year.  The newly rebranded product is good news for companies who currently leverage the built-in Update Manager technology in vSphere 4 and earlier version for patch management.  Previously, these customers would be looking at the hefty-priced upgrade to vCenter Configuration Manager if they wanted to stick with VMware for their patch management or were stuck at version 4, which is the situation I found myself in at work.

I thought it worthy to post about this since I used patch management as my example of how VMware eroding value from the vSphere suite by removing functionality between the version 4 and version 5 product lines.  In many ways, this eases the pain, though patch management does still come at an additional cost for an additional product with vCenter Protect Essentials.

VMware is clearly positioning the product for the small to medium business (SMB) space.  Billed as ‘a complete on-premise management system’, vCenter Protect Essentials will handle patch management and previous Update Manager users will gain a good bit of functionality not previously available to them, such as the ability to stage patches to occur, scanning hosts organized by their Active Directory structure (and assuming still by their VMware hierarchy), and additional alerting capabilities to administrators and users.  In addition to VMware guest systems, vCenter Protect Essentials appears to be able to scan and remediate physical systems through the use of agents, just as NetChk Protect did before.  For NetChk Protect customers, it appears that more integration with vCenter is found in the new product along with a small list of other enhancements.

VMware has a second level of vCenter Protect Essentials, named the Plus version, which includes antivirus protection using SunBelt VIPRE Enterprise Antivirus and basic configuration management features.  The configuration management features include the ability to download templates for regulatory audit baselines like PCI, SOX and HIPPA which can be compared against systems and then remediated.  I assume that this version includes less features than vCenter Configuration Manager, but as I said before, it is a product being positioned for the SMB space.

What is unknown today is whether the vCenter Protect Essentials product will work as Update Manager did using the same network ports to scan hosts and VM’s which are behind a firewall or if it will have a new security implementation.  For users who are familiar with NetChk Protect, I would assume it would function the same, but having no prior experience with NetChk, I cannot say, but the at least there is now a solution for the SMB’s where Configuration Manager did not fit due to cost or complexity.

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

6 Responses to “VMware introduces new Shavlik based patch management solution”

  1. Devin Shirkey #

    I demoed shavlik before, was not impressed. The netcheck agent installs 3 or 4 products and not one installer. We also found it to be less effective than vipre, pretty sad since they use the same engine.

    October 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm Reply
    • Philip #

      It will be interesting to demo the new version, but if its still the same with multiple products, that will no fly for us either. Maybe VMware streamlined it – one could hope. Thanks for the info!

      October 26, 2011 at 10:14 am Reply
  2. Adam #

    We have been a long time NetChk user and are very happy with the product.

    AFAIK, NetChk only has one agent installer. The agent operation is controlled entirely via policies we define on the console box.

    I think you may be confusing it with another product?

    November 3, 2011 at 1:29 am Reply
  3. Steve #

    I am unable to determine how Protect essentials will replace Update manager. According to the list of products supported by Shavlik, VMWare ESX/ESXi isn’t supported for upgrades.

    August 13, 2012 at 6:41 am Reply
    • Philip #

      Steve, you are correct. Shavlik’s NetChk or VMware vCenter Protect, does not include patching for ESX/ESXi. Update Manager actually lives on, but for VMware products only – specifically to patch ESXi in future releases. vCenter Protect is for guest OS patching as that functionality is removed from Update Manager in vSphere 5 and above. I apologize if I did not make the clear in the post.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm Reply
      • Steve #

        Thanks Philip. That clears my confusion.

        August 14, 2012 at 12:24 am Reply

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