Microsoft announces Update Management Center in public

Microsoft Corp. said today it’s rolling out a public preview of Update Management Center, a new tool aimed at system administrators tasked with performing multiple updates of Windows- and Linux-based servers.

Known as UMC for short, it’s the latest iteration of an existing offering known as Azure Automation Update Management, which is a handy, if somewhat complicated, platform for handling updates on both cloud and on-premises machines. Microsoft said in a blog post that though the old service is useful and familiar, it was also a bit “cumbersome” and prone to errors.

So the availability of UMC is aimed at changing that story. The update tool is getting a fresh lick of paint with a modernized overview tab. From there, system admins can easily keep track of the compliance and deployment status of machines on Azure and Azure Arc-enabled servers, the company said. There are useful filters for admins to sort through the tons of information those systems are producing.

Also notable is that UMC eliminates the annoying “multi-step onboarding process” of Azure Automation by leveraging native functions on Azure Compute and Azure Arc for Servers. The tool provides granular access control at an individual resource level, as opposed to an Azure Automation account level.

Another useful capability is the greater flexibility when it comes to deploying patches. This includes on-demand and periodic assessments of patches, customizable schedules and patching methods, such as automatic virtual machine guest patching in Azure.

The new features and controls are designed to make life easier for system administrators. As Microsoft explained, the ongoing management of operating systems and application patches is a dull but nevertheless critical task for companies. It’s necessary to ensure both the security and the compliance status of those systems. Such tasks never used to be a major hassle, but these days many enterprises operate sprawling information technology estates, making it a real headache to keep track of everything.

UMC is still in preview and lacking some features, with a notable lack of support for all Azure-endorsed operating systems and Linux distributions. The good news is that Microsoft is promising to fix this in a future update, which should also bring the more flexible patch management controls to Azure Arc workloads such as Arc for Private cloud, Virtual Machine Service and Managed Kubernetes Service.

Image: Microsoft

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