In the real world it is not always possible to rollout database patches as soon as they are released by Microsoft. Application testing and vendor certifications requirements may cause delays as to when releases may be applied. In some sites there may be a mixture of patching requirements, varying by application or environment.
RockSolid is designed to allow administrators the ability to manage such varying patching strategies via the Patch Category feature. Patching categories are a group definition that specify unique patching requirements, into which various instances can be placed. Target patches can then be set for each patching category, after which RockSolid will automatically audit the environment and raise change requests for instances that are not compliant with their relevant Patching Category.
A patching category is simply a group definition into which instances are assigned. It is given a name and a description. RockSolid comes pre-configure with 4 default Patch Categories, however any number can be configured. The default Patch Categories are:
|Proactive Patching||Service packs, cumulative updates & security updates should be rolled out soon after release from Microsoft|
|Major Service Packs Only||Service packs & security updates should be rolled out soon after release from Microsoft|
|Quarterly Patching Cycle||Each quarter the latest service pack and security updates should be applied.|
|Reactive Patching Only||Patches should not be proactively applied, patches should only be applied to resolve an issue (not recommended).|
Assigning Instances to Patch Categories
Once a patch category has been created, instances need to be assigned to it. Instances are assigned to patch categories using the normal instance policy framework. It is recommended that your "typical" patching category be assigned at group levels in your policy framework, with exceptions being managed at the instance level policy assignment. This ensures that by default instances will get your standard patching category, only varying if a specific change is required.
Setting Patch Category Patch Levels
After instances are assigned to a patch category it becomes an ongoing responsibility of the RockSolid administrator to specify the current patches for each category. Patches will be added to RockSolid automatically during data updates, however patch category assignments will only be changed by a RockSolid administrator.
To change a patch category assignment, it is necessary to navigate to the patch under Manage Patching. Once the desired target version build is found, click to drill into that version build. You can then set the status of that version build for each patch category. Once set, any instances not meeting the minimum patch level for that version will have non-compliance service requests raised.
It is of course necessary to do this for every version of SQL Server that is used by instances within the patch category.