Kace Networks KBox 1100 review
Kace aims to deliver a complete desktop and asset management solution in a box. In this review we put that claim to the test and find out more about its unique application virtualisation option.
Systems and asset management are essential if businesses are to reduce operating and support costs, but many software solutions demand a lot of hardware resources to run and can be expensive to acquire and operate.
Kace Networks aims to offer a slicker alternative as its KBox appliances are designed to provide an out-of-the box solution that combines a wide range of standard management features and more than a few unique options.
On review is the KBox 1100 with the base system providing hardware and software inventory, asset and application management, software distribution and licence metering. Nothing radical here but the KBox steps out of the crowd with its patch management plus optional help desk functions and application virtualisation.
Your first job is to deploy the KBox agents and the appliance offers manual and automated processes for this.
We found deployment in the lab straightforward and after loading a licence file were presented with a well designed web interface. Your first task is to deploy agents to all managed systems and we achieved this for Windows XP, Vista, 7, Server 2003 and Server 2008 systems. Agent deployment can be run manually or you can use the advanced provision option to push the agent to all systems in an IP address range.
Before going any further it is worthwhile creating KBox labels. These are group headings that represent anything from physical locations, user groups, servers, inventory details and so on. Labels can be created using the search and filter tools so they have dynamic content.
The label is created first and then you go to the inventory and define your filters. These can contain up to four entries for search criteria on hardware or software characteristics and any system that meets these criteria are automatically added to the label.
Prior to deployment you can run a network and port scan from the appliance to see what’s out there.
We had no problems with these and created labels that contained, for example, systems with low disk space or a minimum amount of memory. Labels can be teamed up with the KBox scripting so for our low disk space label members we could use a script to fire up a disk defrag job on all new entries.
We also used labels to tie in with the KBox broadcast alerting system. Email notification is supported but broadcasts provide immediate notification of problems detected. We assigned an alert to our low disk space label and all systems in this group immediately received pop up warning messages in their System Tray.
Chassis: 1U Supermicro low profile rack
CPU: 2 x 2.33GHz Xeon E5410
Memory: 4GB 667MHz DDR2
Storage: 3 x 250GB Seagate Barracuda SATA hard disks in hot-swap carriers
RAID: LSI 3ware 9650SE-4LPML PCI-Express card
Network: Gigabit Ethernet
Management: Web browser
Subscriptions: Annual maintenance/support: 20% of list price
Options: 100 users: HelpDesk, £900; Kontainer Module, £2,600 (all ex VAT)