We like to keep it really simple here at SolarWinds - from download, to install, from purchase to daily use.  Our newly acquired product, SolarWinds Patch Manager, has all these characteristics.  The following points outline why SolarWinds believes Patch Manager is a simpler, better, and easier to use patch offering than what is provided by Shavlik, now part of VMware ("VMware / Shavlik").

Patch Manager leverages WSUS and SCCM, and there is no need to package Microsoft patches because they are synchronized directly from Microsoft by WSUS.

VMware / Shavlik does not leverage WSUS and needs to package Microsoft content.  This can cause concern for users for two reasons:

     1) There is a delay in getting critical Microsoft patches to VMware / Shavlik customers.  Microsoft releases content on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.  Until the time of release,  the installation files are not available to any company, and packages cannot be built without the installation files nor without knowing what the installation behavior should be.  Ergo, companies with their own patch engine and schema cannot begin working on that content until after Microsoft releases it.

     2) Pressure to quickly provide Microsoft updates may cause quality issues. For example, a recent post in patchmanagement.org stated there were issues in running vCenter Protect Essentials 8.0.0 - three Windows 7 (x64) patches were not installing or being detected as having been installed.  The post went on to say that Shavlik was fixing the problem. Lack of quality is the reason SolarWinds opted to not package the Adobe Reader v10 and Adobe Acrobat v10 content that is now available from Adobe.

Patch Manager automatically synchronizes the 3rd Party Updates Catalog and other catalogs on a schedule, convenient to the customer's organization.

VMware / Shavlik requires customers to install the software update catalog on their own.

Because Patch Manager leverages WSUS & SCCM, SolarWinds Patch Manager scale is unlimited.

Each WSUS server scales to 30k endpoints out of the box.  WSUS can integrate with up to 100k endpoints per WSUS Server with custom configuration.  One Patch Manager server can integrate with an unlimited number of WSUS servers.

Alternatively, per this comparison of Shavlik to IBM BigFix by Productive, VMware / Shavlik only scales to 50k endpoints and is not suitable for very large environments.

SolarWinds' list price (as of the date of posting) is more affordable than the VMware / Shavlik published catalog price (as of 5/29/2012).

To patch 500 nodes (where 1 node equates to 1 device, a virtual or physical desktop, laptop, server, etc.), SolarWinds Patch Manager will cost $5,595 (USD).  This perpetual license price includes year 1 maintenance.  Based upon the list price of the product at the time of renewal, the support cost for 2 years is 20% of list price for each year.  At this time, if a customer purchased 500 nodes and support for 3 years, the approximate cost would be $7,833 (USD) for Patch Manager.

Per VMware / Shavlik's published catalog price posted on 5/29/2012, VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus costs $150 per server for 3 year support and $96 per workstation for 3 year support.  At this time, 3 year software cost for 500 servers is $75,000 and $48,000 for 500 workstations.


In addition to pricing and architectural differences, there are two unique features SolarWinds Patch Manager provides that VMware / Shavlik does not: PackageBoot & Package Wizard.

  • The first feature, PackageBoot, helps with tricky deployment scenarios - especially useful in patching  Java.  A recent post on Spiceworks outlines the difficulties of patching Java with VMware / Shavlik.  With PackageBoot, SolarWinds customers can build and designate specific actions to occur before or after package deployment to ensure that patches get deployed correctly each time.
  • The second feature, Package Wizard, gives users an easy way to build custom packages for any application – without  the use of SCUP or complicated scripting.


At SolarWinds, our goal is to help our clients keep patching simple: from direct integration to WSUS; for ease of use and scale; to pricing; and finally, to an extensible platform for managing and patching 3rd party applications.  We invite VMware / Shavlik users to try our "keep it simple" approach to patching.  Free 30-day trial.