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If you will be testing a large number of applications, identify ways to automate the
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testing of updates by using scripting.
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In addition to testing your implementation of an update, conducting a pilot deployment provides an opportunity to test your deployment plan and the deployment processes . It helps you to determine how much time is required to install the update as well as the personnel and tools needed to do so . It also provides an opportunity to train support staff and to gauge user reaction to the update process . For example, if a particular update takes an hour for a dial-up user to download, you might have to identify an alternative method for delivering the update to the user .
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The more significant the update, the more important it is to use a pilot program.
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Service packs, in particular, require extensive testing both in and out of the lab.
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Besides testing the update yourself, subscribe to mailing lists and visit newsgroups frequented by your peers . People tend to report problems with updates to these forums before an official announcement is made by Microsoft . If you do discover a problem, report it to Microsoft . Historically, Microsoft has fixed and re-released security updates that have caused serious problems . On the other hand, Microsoft support might be able to suggest an alternative method for reducing or eliminating the vulnerability .
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After you are satisfied that you have sufficiently tested an update, you can deploy it to your production environment . During the installation process, be sure to have sufficient support staff to handle problems that might arise . Have a method in place to monitor the progress of the updates, and have an engineer ready to resolve any problems that occur in the update deployment mechanism . Notify network staff that an update deployment is taking place so that they are aware of the cause of the increased network utilization .
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CHapTER 23 Managing Software Updates
Despite following proper planning and testing procedures, problems can arise when you deploy an update to production computers . Before you deploy updates, have a plan in place to roll back updates from one, many, or all of the target computers . The main steps for the rollback and redeployment of updates are as follows:
Stop the current deployment . Identify any steps necessary for deactivating release mechanisms used in your environment . Identify and resolve any update deployment issues . Determine what is causing an update deployment to fail . The order in which updates are applied, the release mechanism used, and flaws in the update itself are all possible causes for a failed deployment . Uninstall updates if necessary . Updates that introduce instabilities to your production environment should be removed if possible . For instructions, refer to the section titled How to Remove Updates earlier in this chapter . Reactivate release mechanisms . After resolving update issues, reactivate the appropriate release mechanism to redeploy updates . Security bulletins issued by Microsoft will always indicate whether an update can be uninstalled . Because reverting computers to a previous state is not always possible, pay close attention to this detail before deploying an update that cannot be uninstalled .
When a simple uninstall process is not available for a security update, ensure that the necessary provisions are in place for reverting your critical computers back to their original states in the unlikely event that a security update deployment causes a computer to fail . These provisions might include having spare computers and data backup mechanisms in place so that a failed computer can be rebuilt quickly .
After you deploy an update, it is important to audit your work . Ideally, someone who is not responsible for deploying the update should perform the actual audit . This reduces the possibility that the person or group responsible for deploying the update would unintentionally overlook the same set of computers during both update deployment and auditing; it would also reduce the likelihood of someone deliberately covering up oversights or mistakes . Auditing an update that resolves a security vulnerability can be done in one of two ways . The simplest way to audit is to use a tool, such as MBSA, to check for the presence of the update . This can also be done by checking the version of updated files and verifying that the version matches the version of the file included with the update .