Kace Spans Physical, Virtual Machine Management

New technology adds virtual to the idea of heterogeneous management.

Management appliance vendor Kace will straddle the physical and virtual worlds beginning in mid-September, when it will add the ability for its devices to administer both physical and virtual computers from a common user interface.

The Mountain View, Calif., company, which serves primarily midsize enterprises with its Kbox desktop and server administration appliances, has created a single UI allowing customers to discover, distribute software, perform security patching, remediation and quarantine, as well as provision both physical and virtual machines.

At the same time, Kace added the ability in its new vState Management technology to reprovision a VM based on a common system image definition.

The support in both the Kbox 1000 and Kbox 2000 administration appliances for VMs spans those from VMware, Microsoft with its Virtual Server and Xensource, according to Marty Kacin, co-founder and CTO of Kace.

"When customers talk about the need to support heterogeneous environments, that now has a new dimension to it that includes virtual," he said. "We manage guest operating systems (within a virtual machine partition) and the build-out and management of the host platform."

The new Kbox vState Management in Kaces Kbox 2000 provisioning appliance allows customers to work remotely over the network to provision a VM, "and if need be reprovision that to get it to the management state based on the manifest," explained Kacin. It allows users to work from a central console to manipulate system images before they are reconciled on the target machine.

"I am using vState management, but for the way I use it, there is no difference between a virtual and physical PC. Thats good. That is exactly what I need," commented Jim Krochmal, IT manager at the U.S. subsidiary of Polysius Corporation, which engineers process equipment for the cement and minerals industry in Atlanta, Ga.

Polysius is an early user of the product.

With the Kbox 2000, vState Management hosts the logical definition of a full system centrally on the appliance and then deploys it to a virtual container on a target virtual platform. The entire system image, including the operating system, drivers, applications and all the files within that system are stored on the Kbox 2000, where users can manipulate it and then distribute it over the network to the target platform "to create a new machine on the fly," described Kacin.

Unlike current imaging systems such as Symantecs Ghost, the Kbox allows users to selectively add files to a physical or virtual machine that may have been deleted by mistake, or remove files that should not be there, rather than reimage the whole system. "Its a fast way to reset machines without having to move all those files back down," said Lubos Parobek, director of product marketing at the four-year-old company.


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"The Windows XP operating system has 10,000 files. With our K-imaging and vState Management, Kbox can round up all 10,000 of those files, and if something changed within one of those files, Kbox can reconcile that one file between the virtual machine and the Kbox image of that machine hosted on the server side," added Kacin.

That capability does not compete with the management tools provided by the VM platform vendors themselves, Kacin asserted. "Most platform vendors havent gone inside the guest to manage at a file level. With our patent-pending technology, were going after management of smaller files in a smart way," he said.

The new vState Management and VM support are due by September 15.


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