Hosting providers, like OrcsWeb, have multiple global clients who require updates at discrete times. For example, many of OrcsWeb’s clients have web farms and SQL clusters that need to be patched on a staggered basis. “When you’re patching hundreds of servers, it’s important to spread servers across the maintenance window to reduce the workload on the backend infrastructure. Patching everything at once could lead to a boot storm or similar situation,” said Jeff Graves, Director of Technology, OrcsWeb. “We could have tried to manage this with group policy, but Active Directory and our Organizational Unit structure make it difficult to manage patching,” Graves said.
OrcsWeb was using Shavlik’s patch product, now part of VMware, but were not successful in deploying updates to certain servers and there were a lot of false positives using the VMware product. There were also problems with timing of reboots which was due to the Shavlik scheduler. For instance, a patch would be deployed on a Saturday and then on Monday the server would be rebooted. When Shavlik was acquired by VMware, the price of the product went up by 50% and after 18 months of using Shavlik, OrcsWeb chose to use SolarWinds managed service provider software for their patching needs.
Now OrcsWeb can patch 200 servers per hour with SolarWinds Patch Manger. OrcsWeb chose SolarWinds for its ability to centrally deploy updates at discrete times. Updates are scheduled the Saturday after patch Tuesday, with a second maintenance windows on Sunday between 3 and 8 a.m.