• KACE Blog

    Ease of Use for Systems Management is Key for EDU

    In earlier blogs, I’ve explained how important it is for systems management solutions to save educational institutions time and money and enhance student learning by keeping devices secure and available. But what about the systems management solutions themselves? With limited IT staff and budget, educational institutions need tools that are easy to deploy and use and that will continue to deliver value as the institution grows — without requiring increased headcount.

    Florida’s Seminole County Public Schools, for example, was very concerned about ease of installation and maintenance when it began looking for a comprehensive systems management solution. Some vendors, the district found, proposed solutions that would have required IT staff to install, configure and maintain multiple servers. Moreover, some products had multiple components that needed to be integrated, making the solution much tougher to deploy district-wide. These choices were simply too complex and expensive to maintain, the district decided.

    These sentiments are echoed by many other schools and colleges, including the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) in California, which was looking for an integrated solution to replace the seven different products it was using to perform inventory, imaging and remote system management. To support 33 school districts across 22,000 square miles, SBCSS needed to be able to install images remotely and with as little manual work as possible, as well as identify and remove malware and unauthorized software when affected machines join the network. Ease of use and automation in systems management, the district knew, were critical to supporting its educational mission and growing digital curriculum.

    More broadly, educational institutions also need the flexibility to implement systems management in a way that best fits their environment — physical, virtual or in the cloud. They also need a simple plug-and-play architecture that virtually eliminates installation and maintenance, along with support for a broad range of operating systems and applications.

    To learn about how organizations like yours have discovered and implemented systems management solutions that are designed to be both immediately productive and trouble-free for the long term, be sure to read our new solution brief.

  • Dell TechCenter

    On Your Mark, Get Set – Are You Ready for the Federal Cyber Sprint?

    In the wake of the recent OPM cyber breach, federal CIO Tony Scott recently announced a 30-day “Cybersecurity Sprint” requiring agencies to immediately take steps to improve protection of federal information and resilience of federal networks.

    Tony Scott’s initiative comes following the latest battles in the ongoing cyberwar against the United States government and an alarming increase in cyber threats. In fact, a February 2015 report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that over the past eight years, incidents reported by federal agencies to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (U.S. CERT) have increased by 1,121 percent, reflecting 67,000 reported incidents in 2014.

    The use of the word “sprint” signifies that the CIO is utilizing a methodology designed to deliver results fast. At the same time, the Cyber Sprint encompasses a wide range of critical cybersecurity elements, recognizing the need for holistic security and an active, rather than reactive, security posture. This presents agencies with a significant challenge, but one that they have the resources to address.

    Within the confines of the Cyber Sprint, agencies must address four critical security efforts:

    Immediately deploy indicators provided by DHS regarding priority threat-actor Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures to scan systems and check logs 

    As a part of the Cyber Sprint, agencies will now be required to immediately report any evidence of malicious cyber activity. Real time reporting is essential for quick remediation of cyber incidents. Luckily, today’s next-gen firewalls, coupled with insight into abnormal network activity enabled by robust identity and access management (IAM) approaches make these capabilities possible and give agencies a head start on their sprint. Dell SonicWALL offers next-gen firewalls that can correlate and present data from servers, network switches and firewalls. 

    Patch critical vulnerabilities without delay

    Cyber criminals often have advanced resources available for cyber exploits, yet the vast majority of cyber intrusions take advantage of easily identifiable – and easily remediated – vulnerabilities. With the right tools in place, this is a simple element of the Cyber Sprint. Dell can identify and deploy patches for endpoints and servers and also provide updated virus signatures and deep packet inspection through next generation firewalls. Dell’s KACE systems management appliances enable rapid and effective patch management across heterogeneous enterprises of all sizes.

    Tighten policies and practices for privileged users

    Privileged users often hold the keys to the kingdom when it comes to sensitive government data. The Cyber Sprint seeks to mitigate this potential threat by limiting and controlling privileged user access. Additionally, Tony Scott has stressed the importance of tightening policies for privileged users. Privileged account management tools can help tighten these policies without prohibiting necessary access. Dell’s privileged account management offerings allow agencies to control the resources available through privileged accounts, while also controlling, monitoring and producing reports on the activities of these individuals. Dell is the only vendor that offers solutions in each area detailed by Gartner in its Privileged Account Management Market Guide.

    Dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, especially for privileged users

    Internal threats have been recognized as a critical security concern, often providing intruders with easy access to sensitive data. Multi-factor authentication provides an additional line of defense against external bad actors posing as qualified insiders – one that has been mandated by government for the past decade through Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12). Dell can provide hardware and software tokens for multi-factor authentication and help agencies integrate existing multi-factor authorization infrastructures with modern as well as legacy applications. Dell’s Defender multifactor authentication solution requires no dedicated server and can authenticate against already-in-place Active Directory infrastructure, facilitating this step for agencies in a hurry to get to the finish line.

    Get on your mark and get ready for the sprint - Dell stands ready to help federal agencies achieve the cybersecurity improvements with which they’re tasked. Learn more about Dell’s end-to-end security offerings here: http://software.dell.com/solutions/security/.

    Dell also offers end-to-end solutions to address the NIST Cyber Framework. To learn more please visit: http://software.dell.com/nistframework/.

  • KACE Blog

    Enabling Digital Curricula with Systems Management

    Many educational institutions are working hard to improve the educational experience by adopting digital curricula. For that strategy to be successful, the devices that the curricula run on must be highly available, performing well and safe. Achieving those goals can be difficult, especially when you have to manage thousands of Windows, Apple Mac and Linux desktops, laptops and tablets, along with a fast-growing inventory of Chromebooks and other devices, all running a large number of different applications. And let’s not forget how bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives add user-owned devices to the mix.

    For example, Seminole County Public Schools in Florida, one of the largest school districts in the United States, has built an impressive inventory of 20,000 desktops and 10,000 laptops to enable its digital curricula, and it invested in three different point solutions to help manage those machines. Nevertheless, the district’s IT team lacked the insight they needed to ensure that the machines had proper software updates and security patches, putting the digital curricula at risk of unplanned downtime.

    Far away in California, the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) faced similar challenges to its digital curriculum, despite having not just three but seven point solutions for systems management. The district’s small IT team supports 33 school districts across 22,000 square miles, so some sites are four hours away from hands-on help. Since the district lacked remote management tools, some users faced weeks of downtime before IT staff could resolve issues with their machines — a huge roadblock for any digital curriculum. Moreover, the district lacked a way to proactively recognize and remove malware or unauthorized software in the environment, putting online learning at further risk.

    To learn more about how educational institutions like yours have addressed these challenges and are supporting better educational outcomes while saving time and money with Dell KACE solutions, take a look at our new solution brief.

  • KACE Blog

    How Not to Lose Your Job Due to a Security Breach

    Negative approach?  Maybe.  But if you are the person in charge of ensuring your IT network and systems are buttoned up from all manner of malicious intruders, sometimes clueless users and a growing world of creatively uncovered and exploited vulnerabilities, your job could literally be on the line with a single network security breach. We’ve all read the news – enough said.

    Don't lose your job due to a security breach!

    Image credit: Dave Bleasedale Licensed under: CC BY 2.0

    And if you are that guy or gal, you probably (even hopefully) have taken the basic steps to protect your systems and your data. If you haven’t gotten to all of these safeguards, you had better get out your “to do” list pronto, or at least update your resume.

    What then, are the basic steps? Let’s tick off the most frequently implemented and readily available security safeguards:

    1. Antivirus Software – once considered the only line of defense, it’s imperative that this is in place, current and enforced on all of your managed endpoint systems.
    2. Firewalls – no longer just for larger organizations, next gen firewalls offer new technologies for providing added protection and peace of mind, and they can be both affordable and easy to manage.
    3. Proactive Threat Detection – scans such as OVAL and SCAP can put you ahead of the curve in finding and remediating security holes in your IT endpoints.
    4. Patching – you are patching your operating systems and applications regularly, correct? If not, this is the starting point for eliminating vulnerabilities using the latest versions of software available.
    5. Data Encryption – security from the data level to the cloud is today’s ***, so make sure you start with endpoint data encryption for a solid defense for lost or stolen devices.

    But what about today’s more sophisticated threats?

    Consider the number of operating systems you are now slated to secure, the number of BYO devices that are a normal part of your organization’s operation in the form of smartphones, tablets and even wearable devices, and the Internet of Things, not to mention added entry points in the cloud, on social networks and via web services— your list quickly grows beyond basic safeguards to the increasingly complex.

    Are you aware of such new trends as predictive analytics, full lifecycle threat analysis and how to integrate these with comprehensive systems management for improved security? If it sounds like another “to do” list is on the horizon, you are right. But it’s a necessary one.

    Want to learn more? We’ll be covering these topics in an upcoming live web event featuring IDC analyst Chris Christianson and an expert from the Dell Software security team. We’ll be discussing both security basics, as well as the latest in security considerations for holistic, practical implementations that will help you keep your job. Register now and join us on June 25.

  • KACE Blog

    How Educational Institutions Attain High ROI for Systems Management

    In my previous blog, I explored how leading K-12 schools are managing device proliferation with effective systems management — enabling a small IT team to quickly and consistently provision devices across large districts and keep them updated and safe. That’s all well and good, you might say, but is a good systems management solution affordable on an educational budget?

    The answer from thousands of educational institutions around the world is a resounding yes. The right systems management solution can deliver a sound return on investment (ROI) by replacing multiple point solutions, streamlining endpoint management and reducing IT overhead.

    For example, one of the largest school districts in the United States, Seminole County Public Schools in Florida, was using three separate systems to try to manage its 20,000 desktops and 10,000 laptops — including ensuring accurate inventory, swift deployment, timely software updates, and efficient troubleshooting. But this approach proved to be both expensive and ineffective. For example, the county’s inventory software solution was not able to provide a complete picture of all the assets, so the district was at risk of missing updates to critical software like Java, Mozilla Firefox and Adobe Acrobat — which not only hurt user productivity, but also introduced important security risks. And the separate helpdesk solution was so antiquated that users would pick up the phone rather than even try to use it, making it nearly impossible to prioritize and track issues. Moreover, the district had to license and manage all those tools, adding to both costs and complexity.

    Things were even more complicated for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS), which was using not just three but seven different products to perform inventory, imaging and remote systems management. Even with all those point solutions, the district lacked accurate insight into its inventory, and its small IT team had to spend their valuable time bringing computers into the lab and imaging each one manually — no easy task when your district spans 22,000 square miles. Moreover, this process was a extremely time consuming, since building an image took a full day and installing it took an additional one to two hours per machine.

    Imagine the value of replacing all of these point solutions with a single comprehensive systems management solution. Automating tasks and enabling remote management saves expensive IT and helpdesk staff time, while also delivering less quantifiable but equally important improvements in security and reliability. Adding to the ROI are energy savings, since many schools and colleges leave machines running overnight, over weekends and even over breaks because they have no easy way to shut them down. This results in high energy bills and shortened computer life — costs that can be reduced by tens of thousands of dollars a year by automatically powering down unused machines.

    Together, these savings and improved efficiencies from a quality systems management solution add up to a sound return on investment for educational institutions. To learn more about how Dell KACE solutions are helping educational institutions like yours save time and money while supporting better educational outcomes, take a look at our new solution brief.

  • KACE Blog

    Learn How Leading K-12 Schools are Managing Device Proliferation

    Effective systems management and deployment can be a challenge for businesses, but it can be even more difficult for educational institutions due to limited budgets and fewer support personnel per managed machine. And whether you’re supporting a single campus or multiple locations, your team also has to manage and support an incredibly diverse and constantly growing array of systems and devices, including PCs, servers, Chromebooks, tablets and smart phones, as well as more and more connected non-computer devices, such as printers and projectors. The list of platforms is long as well, and often more diverse than in the business world: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, UNIX, Chromebook OS, iOS, Android and more.

    Another of your many challenges is ensuring that all these systems and devices are provisioned consistently and kept secure and current with the latest software and patches — again using only the limited staff on your IT team. Students are notorious for installing rogue software and non-compliant applications, but you’ve got to ensure compliance, uptime and security.

    Systems management and deployment was even more challenging for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) because of its size and geographic distribution — SBCSS maintains PCs and Macs for more than 2,000 employees moving among 500 schools in the 22,000 square mile county. To meet their needs, they had cobbled together a hodgepodge of seven different products for imaging, inventory, asset management and remote systems management. As a result, IT staff had to use multiple consoles to keep systems inventoried, provisioned and secure, which made their jobs more complex and difficult.

    Florida’s Seminole County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the United States, faced similar challenges, including maintaining an accurate inventory of 30,000 desktops and laptops while keeping all the machines properly updated. They also needed a better way to create and deploy standard images for desktop and laptop models.  

    Solving these challenges is critical for educational institutions, so they can maximize student learning time through effective delivery of digital curricula. To learn how Dell KACE solutions helped these and other educational institutionslike yours support better educational outcomes by streamlining endpoint management, improving uptime and lowering IT overhead costs, take a look at our new solution brief. Also, take a look at my next blog in our education series and learn how educational institutions attain high ROI for systems management.

  • KACE Blog

    KACE has a new home!

    We're excited to announce that KACE has a new home on the web.

    Please note that kace.com has been retired to enable an upgraded web presence for KACE products on software.dell.com. We encourage you to visit KACE's new website on Dell Software for product information, features, support and other resources.

  • KACE Blog

    You Need a Systems Management Solution that Works Hard So You Don't Have To

    Educational institutions are always looking for ways to enhance student learning, and to that end, many are adopting or expanding their digital curricula. That requires investing in computing infrastructure — but it doesn’t have to mean overwhelming your IT staff or breaking the budget. The key is to abandon the old manual, time-consuming and error-prone methods for systems management tasks and find a systems management solution that will streamline and automate tasks like imaging machines, tracking hardware and software inventory, installing software and updates, managing troubleshooting workflows, enforcing security policies, and reducing energy usage.

    Dell KACE solutions enable you to efficiently manage the complete systems lifecycle, from deployment to retirement, empowering your IT team to gain efficiencies, cut costs, enhance security and focus on more strategic projects. In short, they work hard so you don’t have to.

    The Dell KACE portfolio is comprehensive, providing initial operating system deployment, application distribution, patch management, asset management, endpoint security and service desk functionality. Dell KACE solutions support all popular operating systems and can manage all of your computing devices enterprise-wide. Plus, you have the flexibility to implement the Dell KACE solutions in a way that best fits your environment and resources — as on-premise physical appliances that plug into your environment or as on-premise virtual appliances that can run on your own servers. One solution (the Dell KACE K1000) is even available over the cloud as a hosted virtual appliance.

    Even better, Dell KACE solutions are easy to deploy and use, and they offer a low total cost of ownership (TCO). With a simple plug-and-play architecture that virtually eliminates installation and maintenance, along with scalability to meet the needs of your growing organization, Dell KACE solutions are designed to be both immediately productive and trouble-free for the long term, saving you time and money.

    To learn more about how the Dell KACE portfolio can streamline and automate systems management talks to support digital learning at your school or college, be sure to read our whitepaper, “Solving Systems Management Challenges for Education.”

  • KACE Blog

    Three Additional Ways to Address the Most Common IT Challenges faced by Education IT Professionals

    In my previous blog entry, I explained three ways that Dell KACE solutions are supporting digital learning at schools and colleges by increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and improving security. Now let’s look at three more.

    1. Protect school computers, networks and data

    While access to the internet helps students study, it also introduces security risks. The Dell KACE portfolio helps keep your systems secure and available by automatically patching operating systems and major applications with the latest security updates, Dell KACE enables you to prevent data leaks by providing policy-based lockdown of USB, storage and communication devices with multiple levels of security. You can also establish a least-privileged user environment, enabling students and teachers to install software, make desktop changes and deploy ActiveX controls that IT has deemed secure without giving them risky local admin rights that would allow them to install unapproved software, copy data to flash drives or incur other risks.

    2. Broaden student horizons safely

    Smartphones and tablets enable “anywhere, anytime learning,” and the Dell EMS portfolio enables you to efficiently manage and secure these devices the same way you manage laptops, desktops, servers and virtual machines. This consistent yet flexible approach greatly simplifies solution deployment, device provisioning and security policy enforcement across all device types.

    3. Go green and reap energy savings

    Many schools and colleges leaves machines running overnight, over weekends and even over breaks because they have no easy way to shut them down. This results in high energy bills and shortened computer life.

    But educational institutions that have adopted Dell KACE are saving tens of thousands of dollars a year by automatically powering down Windows and Mac machines either on a schedule or based on system inactivity. Systems can be put in any of a number of power-saving states — for example, you can choose to power down only individual components (such as the hard drive or monitor) or to achieve maximum power savings by powering down the entire system. Pre-configured and ad hoc reporting makes it easy to demonstrate the resulting savings.

    For more information about how Dell KACE can help support digital learning at your school or college, be sure to read our whitepaper, “Solving Systems Management Challenges for Education.”

  • KACE Blog

    Three Ways to Address the Most Common IT Challenges faced by Education IT Professionals

    In my previous blog, I explained some of the significant systems management challenges facing educational institutions as they adopt more digital curricula to deliver a quality learning experience for their students. Without the right tools, these systems management challenges can quickly overwhelm even the most experienced IT staff.

    But many educational institutions have found a better way — they have streamlined endpoint management, improved uptime and reduced IT overhead by implementing Dell KACE. Here are three ways these solutions help educational institutions to increase efficiencies, cut costs and improve security, all while maximizing the student learning experience. (I’ll explain three more ways in my next blog post.)

    Automate the management of hardware and software assets

    First, the Dell KACE portfolio significantly eases the burden on IT by centralizing and automating a wide range of systems management and Windows workspace management tasks. For example, you can get detailed hardware and software inventory information for all your Windows, Mac and Linux systems, including desktops, notebooks, servers, printers and networking equipment such as routers and switches. It’s easy to generate the system-wide IT reports you need to prove your license and regulatory compliance.

    Dell KACE solutions also automate the administration, distribution and installation of virtually any application, service pack, update, hotfix or digital asset for Windows, Mac and Linux desktops, laptops and servers. Dell KACE helps you ensure that computer type, hardware, browser versions and operating systems are configured properly, and provides insight into whether you need to buy new hardware or upgrade bandwidth and operating systems to support digital learning. More broadly, Dell KACE makes it easy to manage Windows firewalls, connect to file servers, add and remove printers, manage shortcuts, manage Outlook profiles, configure internet browser settings and manage administrative privileges.

    Efficiently image computers for each new school term

    With manual approaches, imaging systems in preparation for each upcoming school term can take months. Dell KACE can slash that workload to weeks or even days by streamlining and automating the entire re-imaging process for both Windows and Mac platforms. You simply maintain a few thin gold master images, tailoring them for particular situations. Dell KACE deploys the images over the network, eliminating the need to visit each machine or bring them all to a central location. To reduce bandwidth use and speed deployment, you can create virtual deployment appliances at remote locations and deploy images from them, and you can even deploy an image to multiple systems simultaneously.

    Quickly resolve issues

    Third, Dell KACE’s service desk eliminates the need for IT staff to physically visit machines to resolve issues, speeding resolution and enabling students, teachers and IT staff to be more productive. Plus, automatic notifications save students, faculty and staff time by keeping everyone informed about the status of their tickets.

    That’s not all!

    Be sure to read my next blog post, where I’ll explain three more ways Dell KACE can help support digital learning at your school or college. For more details about addressing the systems management challenges that educational institutions are facing today, be sure to read our whitepaper, “Solving Systems Management Challenges for Education.”