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Patch management is a strategy for managing patches or upgrades for software applications and technologies. A patch management plan can help a business or organization handle these changes efficiently.
Software patches are often necessary in order to fix existing problems with software that are noticed after the initial release. Many of these patches have to do with security. Others may have to do with specific functionality for programs.
In traditional fee-licensing software delivery, patches were often delivered as stand-alone code modules to add to an existing installed software program. With new Web-delivered systems and cloud hosting models, many patches can now be applied to software programs over the global IP network, rather than being sent on external media and applied to installed programs. The automatic addition of software patches and upgrades is one attractive part of new plans to offer software through Web-delivered services rather than through traditional fee-licensing agreements.
Although patch management may apply to the internal efforts of software companies to fix problems with versions of software programs, some companies also offer patch management software that will analyze existing programs for any potential lack of these security features or other upgrades. Patch management programs can scan systems in order to understand whether additional patches are needed. In general, these tools can help make sure that software programs are outfitted with everything they need to work best at any given time.