You arrive at work on Monday only to learn that a bunch of desktops are hung or that the performance of a critical application has slowed to a crawl. After investigating, you determine that a patch that was applied over the weekend is the cause.
That’s why you need tools that support patch rollbacks. Even better, include patch testing as part of your patch-management strategy. First, you must take regular inventory of the applications and technologies in play on desktops and servers. Most systems-management tools, such as Microsoft’s SMS, have the capability to take inventory for you automatically.
Next, replicate the applications and technologies into a staging environment. If your operating system and infrastructure software do not include patch testing tools, get a third-party tool such as FLEXnet AdminStudio or Wise Package Studio.
Alternatively, you can write some scripts to functionally exercise the platform or technology with the latest patches in play. You will need to repeat this scenario (and adjust scripts) as new patches arrive and as software changes are made.
The final, crucial step is to execute a round of stress tests with the new patches in play. Quite often, patches prove problematic only under heavy loads.