Despite some initial scepticism we were mightily impressed by the Kace K1000 systems management appliance when we reviewed it back in August last year.
The reason for the scepticism was a reluctance to see system management tools as an obvious candidate for hosting on an appliance. However, the Kace implementation proved surprisingly effective, putting a new slant on the concept which we found made management easier, quicker and more affordable compared to traditional software-only solutions like those from HP, IBM, Microsoft and others.
Dell clearly thought so too, acquiring the company just a few months later. Since when it’s revamped the software on the Linux-based appliance adding, among other new features, the ability to configure and enforce power settings on client Windows and Apple Mac systems, as well as generate reports detailing energy consumption and savings made. ITIL compliant service desk functionality has also been added , plus enhanced Smart Label technology to dynamically group machines for enhanced reporting and automated policy-based management.
The self-contained appliance format puts systems management much more within the reach of mid-size companies, a market Dell is clearly aiming at with the quad-core Xeon K1000 platform. Of course the market hasn’t been standing still with Microsoft recently releasing a 2010 version of its mid-market System Center Essentials package. Cloud-based solutions are another innovation, Microsoft’s Windows InTune (currently in beta) competing for much the same customer base.
That said few alternatives offer the breadth of functionality provided by the Dell Kace appliance, which sports all the conventional tools, from cross-platform device discovery and inventory through to software distribution and patch management. It even has its own take on application virtualisation - in the form of Kace Virtual Kontainers - and tools to manage Apple iPhones.
We were impressed last time and look forward to checking out the new model as soon as Dell can let us have one.