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Can you explain the importance of upgrades and patches and what the differences between the two are?

Can you explain the importance of upgrades and patches and what the differences between the two are? Also, is it different on a web server or the same?
Once a software application is released for production, it goes into the maintenance phase. This phase takes care of all the bugs, security holes and other issues that are reported by the users/other sources, which if not addressed timely will affect the quality and performance of the software, ultimately resulting in user dissatisfaction. Vendors release service packs or patch updates on regular interval to maintain the current release or version of the software. This may contain patches for:

  • Blocking security loopholes
  • Fixing software bugs
  • Providing drivers for newly released hardware

    On the other hand, upgrades are released as a totally new version of software. Upgrades generally contain enhancements to previous versions in terms of new features, capabilities, design, UI and are mostly requirement driven. Upgrades are important to keep systems updated with new technology and provide interoperability with other systems. Further, in some cases upgrades are made mandatory if the vendor decides to discontinue support for the existing/older versions.

    Web server Updates fall under application software and are treated the same way as any other updates or upgrades, but are specific to web server. This could be in the form of a security patch, support for new technologies or general bug fixes.

    Patch management allows you to proactively manage patches and software updates by automating the collection, analysis and delivery of patches across your enterprise. The solution consists of a central, extensible repository to house various operating systems, hardware and software vendors' patches, as well as improved installation inventory and specific software update distribution options. Here's a more detailed paper on Patch Management and be sure to check out the patch management page on SearchNetworking.com.

This was last published in June 2005

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