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Business

Why update bloat is an IT nightmare

My recent rant about the horrors of Adobe Acrobat's update process attracted a fair degree of sympathy, but also managed to royally annoy at least one Big Deal reader, who questioned what it had to do with the column's stated intention of illuminating issues central to IT managers.
Written by Angus Kidman, Contributor on

My recent rant about the horrors of Adobe Acrobat's update process attracted a fair degree of sympathy, but also managed to royally annoy at least one Big Deal reader, who questioned what it had to do with the column's stated intention of illuminating issues central to IT managers.

I'll grant you that there wasn't an explicit discussion of how the problem plays out in an enterprise context, but to be honest I would have thought that was obvious.

Patch management and system control is a major challenge for anyone managing a network of PCs. Every time a new update appears, you have to decide whether it's worth introducing into what's hopefully a stable and standardised operating environment.

Adobe certainly doesn't make that decision easy. Its summary of what is included in the most recent 7.0.8 update says that it "adds new functionality, fixes a number of bugs, and is more secure." Exactly how it is made more secure isn't mentioned.

If you decide, based on that limited information, that the upgrade will be useful for your users, then you have to install it, test it to make sure nothing else breaks and then roll it out across the company network.

How straightforward this is depends a lot on infrastructure decisions that may be independent of the particular piece of software being updated. If you have the capacity to automatically roll out new system images, or use a virtualised system like Citrix's MetaFrame, then it may not be too troublesome. But if you have lots of workers using notebooks and responsible for their own maintenance, then any triple-booting update system is going to generate quite a few calls to the help desk.

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