Dell Upgrades Kace K1000 for BYOD, Internet of Things

The vendor's system management appliance also now supports Chromebooks and offers agentless monitoring of Windows-based servers.

Internet of things

Dell is expanding the capabilities of its Kace K1000 management appliance to help businesses that are seeing a rapidly growing number of devices and systems connect into their networks.

The Kace K1000 v6.3 appliance enables businesses to monitor any connected device, ranging from smartphones and tablets to printers and projectors. At a time when businesses are wrestling with such trends as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the fast-growing Internet of things (IoT), the ability to monitor all the devices and systems connected to the network is crucial, according to Dell officials.

The company began to add IoT capabilities to Kace with the release last year of version 6.0.

In addition, the updated Kace K1000, announced Jan. 27, now supports the monitoring of the increasingly popular Chromebooks and offers agentless inventory and monitoring of Windows-based servers.

The aim of the enhancements made to the systems management appliance was to grow the number of devices and systems that can be tracked and monitored by the product as well as make it more comprehensive and easier to use. Dell also wanted to make it easier for businesses to simplify their systems management environment, according to Bill Odell, vice president of marketing for Dell endpoint systems management.

Odell pointed to a recent study sponsored by Dell in which 54 percent of the more than 700 respondents said they use three or more systems management tools, and 67 percent said they want to use fewer. Only 23 percent said they had a "single pane of glass" for managing all their systems.

Expanding the numbers and types of connected devices that Kace K1000 can manage is a significant step in that direction, Odell told eWEEK. Also in the study, 87 percent of respondents said they expect to see the number or types of endpoints increase, and 97 percent said they were concerned about managing the growth in the number of endpoints.

The growth is adding not only complexity to the picture, but also security concerns: 61 percent of respondents said they believe there are devices or applications on the corporate network that IT staffs don't know about.

"These devices … are smarter, and they have the ability to be connected to the network," Odell said. "When you talk about things like printers [coming onto the network], it adds another level of vulnerability. … There's a sea change happening in asset management. You need to look beyond what you traditionally have managed."

With Kace K1000 v6.3, businesses have a single tool for monitoring and managing their systems and devices, from servers and PCs to printers, projectors and Chromebooks, Jason Tolu, senior product marketing manager for Dell Kace, told eWEEK.

"With [version] 6.3, you're managing anything that's connected to the network," Tolu said.

That's important to Dave Perry, technical operations manager for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a longtime Kace customer that has been testing version 6.3 for the past six weeks. The 115-year-old institution gets 1.3 million visitors a year. The museum not only uses Kace to manage its 600 desktop PCs and 210 network switches, but it now also needs to be able to manage 170 connected printers as well as projectors that it's using.

The number of systems and devices that the museum will hook into the network will only go up, Perry told eWEEK. Managing all those systems becomes a complex problem, so having a single console makes the job much easier, he said. The Kace K1000 appliance addresses issues before they become problems and improves the end-user experience. It also enables the museum to identify and track all the devices on the network and lock them down for greater security.

"If you don't know what's on your network, you don't know where you're vulnerable, and you want to know where you're vulnerable," Perry said.

The agentless monitoring of Windows servers and PCs also is an important enhancement, Tolu said. Kace K1000 already had agentless monitoring of Linux and Unix servers, and last year Dell added agentless management of Windows PCs. Now it's including the capability for Windows servers. The move will enable businesses that in the past may have been reluctant to put an agent onto a server, concerned that it would hinder system performance, he said.

That concern has been addressed, Tolu said.

Version 6.3 is available as a physical, virtual or hosted appliance. Pricing starts at $8,900 for the physical or virtual appliance and 100 managed PCs or servers. In a hosted environment, the cost is $6.50 per managed computer per month. Existing Kace K1000 customers can upgrade to the latest version for free. The license cost for managing Chromebooks and non-computing devices is $1,250 for up to 250 devices.