Kace appliances works hard at asset management, license tracking

The easy-to-set-up, complementary Kace KBox appliances worked in conjunction with each other to subsume a number of our most onerous desktop management chores. The KBox 1200 device handled software deployment, patch management, asset management, license tracking and vulnerability scans.

The easy-to-set-up, complementary Kace KBox appliances worked in conjunction with each other to hit on a number of our most onerous desktop management chores. The KBox 1200 device handled software deployment, patch management, asset management, license tracking and vulnerability scans. The KBox 1200 also included a helpdesk feature for issuing and tracking trouble tickets. The KBox 2100 appliance deployed entire operating system images to our desktops.

Both Kace models feature a Web browser user interface for ongoing administrative use. However, installation required the temporary attachment of a keyboard and a monitor to the appliance in order to assign a local IP address. The browser-based interface, which uses a tab folder metaphor that didn't always operate as it should, took some getting used to, but was otherwise unremarkable. We noted that the appliances' administrative interfaces let us delegate different functions to different people, according to roles we set up. The grouping of managed clients, termed labeling by the vendor, is flexible enough to allow a client to be in multiple groups.

Pushing agents to our Windows clients was simply a matter of supplying an IP address range to the KBox 1200. We installed non-Windows clients agents manually via the 1200's Samba file server sharepoint utility. The model 1200's desktop management functions worked well with diverse client platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris and Linux.The company claims that its product can manage virtual machines running along side of physical client machines, but that is not apparent in any documentation sent to us by Kace, therefore we did not test that claim.

The KBox 1200's inventory of our clients was quick and accurate, taking only a couple of hours to identify every machine and tally each PC's internals. We especially liked the way its asset management and license tracking features let us relate those assets and licenses to particular organizational groups (such as departments or divisions of a company). When we set up a "per use" license (as opposed to a "per seat" license), we were able to use the 1200's software metering feature to ensure that we didn't exceed the usage threshold specified in the license. The model 1200 flawlessly distributed and later upgraded a number of applications across our network, and its patch management kept our Windows and Mac clients perfectly up to date. The unit's vulnerability scan, which is based on the Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language, is closely integrated with the product's patch management faculties.

The 1200's helpdesk feature is rudimentary but adequate. We could use the browser interface to enter trouble tickets, or we could e-mail the trouble ticket data to the 1200. The appliance let us assign the tickets to administrators, track their progress and, when we wished, escalate problems. For remote control capabilities, Kace bundles with its products the open source UltraVNC tool.

The KBox 2100 made the provisioning of our clients with operating system images fairly easy, but the unit's capacity was limited. It could manage the transmission of only about 15 to 20 concurrent images, which would make large-scale operating deployment a slower process than you might otherwise expect. The box's user interface included guidance to help ensure the right image goes to the right machine, and the appliance maintained what the vendor terms K-images to represent our complete, ready-for-deployment file-oriented operating system images. The KBox Deployment Console, part of the 2100's Web GUI, gave us editing tools that we used to make each operating system image contained exactly the files we wished. We used the KBox 2100 to successfully instantiate several Windows- and Linux-based operating system images to clients. The model 2100 doesn't support the deployment of other operating systems.

We found the KBoxes lacked antimalware tool integration, mobile device management, advanced USB port management and backup/recovery features.

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