Why Admins Should Verify Updates | Managing Mac with SCCM


IT teams’ most fundamental duty is to provide for the highest possible availability of all systems and to uphold their organization’s productivity at all times. In particular, this means keeping all client computers up and running and fending off malware and software faults. This involves IT teams testing applications und updates for bugs and incompatibilities before the software reaches the users’ client computers.

Apple forced to retract update

A recent case involving Apple® shows how crucial this can be. In late July 2019, the company released system and safety updates for macOS® 10.14 and 10.13. These led to such problems for users that Apple was forced to retract the updates. One of the undesirable side effects was that with MacBook® laptops, entering the sleep mode could produce a kernel panic reaction—that is, a complete system crash. Once an update with issues like that is distributed across the entire network, the damage has been done.

In such a case, an IT team would have to either perform a complete rollback of all systems to the previous OS version or at least instruct all users how to work around the negative symptoms. For the case in question, this would mean avoiding the sleep mode and always shutting down the MacBook instead of just closing it as you usually do. This is quite a significant restraint for mobile users.

First verify patches and then deploy them

How can IT teams verify updates to avoid scenarios of this kind? IT administrators should first install patches on test systems and check them against a range of criteria. The obvious first step is to verify that the patch will install smoothly on the test computers. Then there are performance and compatibility tests involving important applications. Admins should also try out whether the patch can be removed easily if needed. A fault such as the “sleep crash” would surely have been found in thorough tests, or media coverage of the subject would have surfaced within the evaluation phase.

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