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Agent vs. agentless patch management

Site expert Jason Chan shares some general pros of agent and agentless patch management.

We are looking at a more robust patch management solution in the mold of BigFix Enterprise Suite or Shavlik HFNetChkPro. We had been relying on Automatic Updates for the 1000 or so desktops and laptops we support, but we had a few problems with Zotob and decided to look into a more complete solution (budget suddenly became available). We do have a few users who occasionally work from home and while most of the PCs are Windows XP we have about 10-15% Windows 2000 OSs. The big difference between those two products above is agent based vs. agentless, what are the pros and cons of each approach?
This is a common topic of debate in patch management circles. Some general pros of agent and agentless patch management include:

Pros of agentless:

  • Ease of deployment (no software to install on host computers)
  • Reduced licensing costs
  • Reduced management effort
  • Pros of agents:

  • More operational control
  • Agents typically enhance scanning and monitoring capabilities
  • Can often patch a wider range of applications
  • Dig Deeper on Enterprise desktop management

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