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Microsoft Cloud: Blog Post

Orchestrated Patch Management for Continuous Availability

Cluster Aware Updating provides free automated patching of hypervisor hosts and clustered applications

If you’ve supported enterprise IT solutions for as long as I have, at some point in time you have most likely witnessed The 3 Immutable Truths of IT Patch Management.  Respect these truths, and you’ll enjoy a stable, manageable datacenter environment.  Ignore these truths, and … well … let’s not even think about those possibilities! Surprised smile

The Three Immutable Truths of IT Patch Management

  1. All software requires patch updates from time-to-time.
  2. All hardware requires firmware updates from time-to-time.
  3. If you attempt to dismiss #1 or #2 as being irrelevant to you, you may soon know well one of my favorite quotes: /p>


Once we’ve accepted these 3 truths … the questions we have at-hand in enterprise IT management are notWhy apply patches?norHow many patches?” And, certainly, we don’t want to be in a situation where we are asking ourselves “How long can I go without applying patches?

Ugh! Those questions quickly lead down a path that could be a recipe for datacenter disaster!

Rather, the relevant question at-hand is … How do I implement an orchestrated patch management solution that provides my datacenter with continuous application availability while ensuring compliance with the latest set of necessary patches?

Orchestrated Patch Management is a “Must Have”!
the value of orchestrated patch management rings very clearly today with the IT Pros in my community – many of them have implemented heavily-virtualized Private Cloud environments, and patch management is one of the processes that they have automated into an “almost non-event” in their environments.

The importance of orchestrated patch management is particularly high when we consider patches that may apply to the hypervisor itself.  Let’s face it … while all modern bare-metal hypervisors have a tiny footprint compared to their Type-2 hypervisor ancestors, hypervisors are still software and, as such, still have patch management that must be tended to ( remember, Truth #1 above ).  Since virtualized application workloads run on top of a hypervisor, this tags hypervisor patch management as a high priority in most environments - regardless of the hypervisor being deploying.

In fact, this is one of the reasons that we’ve included Cluster Aware Updating (CAU) as a core foundational feature in Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012, our completely FREE enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor.

By leveraging CAU, you can quickly configure an automated patch management process that easily integrates with your Hyper-V Host Cluster to patch your Hyper-V Hosts in an orchestrated manner, host-by-host, across your entire cluster. During this cluster-aware patching process, CAU leverages Live Migration to safely move running VM’s between Hyper-V Hosts so that availability of your virtualized application workloads is maintained throughout the cluster-wide patching process.

Wait! Cluster Aware Updating is FREE with Hyper-V?
That’s correct!
Unlike other virtualization vendors, we believe that orchestrated patch management is a core “table-stakes” component for an enterprise-class virtualization solution.  As such, CAU is included with Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012 without purchasing any additional management licenses.

More Stories By Keith Mayer

Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

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