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IT Confessional Series: Oops… Good Thing That Patch Update Was Automated!

By: Andy the Angry IT Guy

Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment in our ongoing series featuring “Andy,” an anonymous IT administrator at a small- to mid-sized organization located somewhere in the American Midwest. When we last left Andy, he was emulating one of his all-time favorite TV heroes (non-Star Trek division), Jack Bauer, with 9 – a heart-racing, minute-by-minute account of a standard day at work for him.

Today, Andy talks about how he dodged a major bullet by automating a critical patch update that would have otherwise gone uninstalled and would have left his anonymous small- to mid-sized organization vulnerable to malicious attacks from a cavalcade of villainous internet hackers.

In preparation for the imminent, decade-in-the-making release of Diablo III (May 15, you CANNOT come quickly enough), I recently dusted off my old copy of Diablo II to get excited. I forgot how addicting that game was; outside of work, I’ve pretty much been playing it non-stop for the past week. Last weekend, I didn’t even leave my house – OK, my mom’s basement.

Yesterday (Monday) was a typically crazy day at the office for me. Between helping half of the office connect to the new printer because they didn’t choose to read my step-by-step instructional email and managing other trouble tickets, the day flew by in a typically hectic style. Naturally, all I could think about when I got home was getting back to my game.

I think it was somewhere between defeating the evil lord Baal in the second act and preparing to face off with the even more sinister Mephisto in the third act (after returning to Tristram to refill my inventory, obviously) that I realized it was after 4:00 AM, and I had to be to work in less than four hours. So, I resolved to take a quick nap to get at least some rest.

Tuesday promised to be a busy day at the office: there were critical patch updates for Adobe, Mozilla, and Outlook, respectively, and they all needed to be downloaded ASAP to eradicate existing vulnerabilities and ensure that my company didn’t become the next target of Anonymous.

It was about 11:15 AM on Tuesday by the time I realized all of this. That’s right, I slept through my alarm, head resting on my keyboard for well over seven hours. This was going to be a disastrous day.

I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and proceeded to root through my closet to find my old Best Buy t-shirt. If I screwed up this patch update, it would most certainly be the end of my tenure at my current job and back to the Geek Squad. My current boss already seemed to have it in for me, and I had no doubt that screwing this up would be all he needed to finally get rid of me.  

Looking in the mirror after finally pulling my trusty royal blue Best Buy polo out of my closet, I realized I’d put on a few pounds since I last worked there. Damn you, Diablo II and a general lack of exercise!

And that’s when it hit me.

I had automated the patch updates last week with VMware Go Pro! I wasn’t going back to Best Buy after all – and better yet, I could continue to wear my more loose-fitting sweaters that better conceal my ever-expanding gut so that my coworkers (namely, Liz from accounting) wouldn’t notice!

Here’s what happened: I had had a burst of productivity the previous week. While I was playing around with the patch management features in VMware Go Pro, I noticed that I could automate the scan and deploy process for individual patch updates. I saw that there were a number of big patch updates coming the following week, and decided to be proactive (for once) and set up the process so that it would occur automatically first thing on Tuesday morning.

To allay any lingering concerns I had about the patches, I pulled up my VMware Go Pro from home to confirm that the updates did in fact go through – it was easy to do remotely, since Go is browser controlled. I was able do so by both name and machine group to be extra safe. All was OK, and my day was made. Automation really is a beautiful thing.

Seriously, though, I have no idea how I’m going to keep my job once Diablo III comes out. At least I won’t have to worry about patch updates…