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vCenter Protect Essentials is a complete patch management system. (Plus it can have other features such as configuration management, power management, scripting, etc.) You do not need to run SCCM or WSUS to use vCenter Protect Essentials for patch management.
If you already have SCCM, then VMWare (formerly Shavlik) has a product to enhance SCCM with the ability to patch many third party software products. Maybe that is what you were seeing that looked like you need SCCM.
I can only assume by your handle that you're either an employee or big fan of Shavlik products. Our organisation has in place, has licensing for and already utilising a SCCM/WSUS solution. However it is not currently employed in the section in which I'm responsible for.
So although the cards a likely stacked in favour of SCCM/WSUS owing to it being the 'standard' for us I'd like to investigate all options. Personally I've yet to be let down by an integrated Vmware product so would like to at least do some due diligence and investigate this vCenter Protect Essentials option. Is there anywhere that has cost benefit analysis in a side-by-side comparision to SCCM? Also would you know of any reviews of VPE from 3rd parties (I don't know why everything else in the world has reviews galore by IT software suites are exempt). Lastly, being I'm responsible for a 'bandwidth challenged' defence (defense) department, is there a bandwidth information available and better yet, driect bandwidth comparisions to the SCCM product?
I know this is a lot to ask and I really don't know where you fit into the scheme of things, as to whether you represent Shavlik/Vmware or simple yourself. Regardless thanks for your response thus far - yes I did see the SCUP video and now understand where my confusion came from re my original question.