KACE Blog

  • KACE Blog

    Make Your Service Desk More Effective with Better Communication

    Service Desk

    Effective Communication has Multiple Dimensions

    Easy and effective communication between users and IT engineers is critical for swift resolution of problems. This communication often starts when users report an issue to the service desk. Support technicians need to be able to efficiently create tickets, prioritize issues, route tickets to the proper engineers, escalate them when necessary, and track them to completion — while keeping users informed about status throughout the process. IT staff members need to be able to pose troubleshooting questions and suggest workarounds, and users need to be able to easily respond to their questions and report back on their success with suggested fixes. Moreover, with today’s increasing mobile workforce, both users and IT staff need to be able to communicate no matter where they are.

    Good communication, however, extends well beyond the ticket lifecycle. Good communication is proactive, enabling IT to keep users informed about common problems and current outages or other widespread issues, and provide a knowledge base of how-to’s, known fixes and workarounds. By offering a self-service portal with this information, organizations can reduce the number of service tickets created while improving user satisfaction and productivity.

    Even more broadly, good communication includes easy access to relevant information. When service desk technicians can quickly access up-to-date information about all computer devices and assets on the network, inventory reports, configuration status, and device history — ideally from an integrated console — they can troubleshoot tickets faster, with fewer requests for details from users.

    What to Look for in a Service Desk Solution

    Together, these components of effective communication can reduce mean time to resolution while improving productivity for both users and IT staff. Therefore, you should look for a service desk solution that facilitates great communication by providing:

    • Customizable service desk tickets and queues — Look for a ticketing system that enables you to set up multiple ticket queues and tailor them to meet different needs. For example, separating facilities management concerns from IT user issues will streamline communications. Also ensure that you can customize tickets to ensure they include all the information required for troubleshooting, and that the solution can route them automatically to the engineers with the right skills and availability to resolve them quickly.
    • An intuitive self-service user portal — It’s essential that users be able to access an extensive knowledge base, locate hardware and software inventory information for their systems, install IT-sanctioned software packages, and submit and view the status of their support tickets. IT should be able to easily post announcements such as information on service outages or planned maintenance windows; provide links to useful web applications and information, such as pages on the corporate intranet; and enable access to tools for tasks such as self-service password management.
    • Easy problem reporting — Users must be able to easily report issues and provide supporting information to speed troubleshooting. For example, they should be able to quickly attach screenshots to tickets.
    • Mobile app — Look for a solution that can serve your increasingly mobile workforce. Technicians should be able review and respond to service desk notifications, examine inventory details, and deploy software and patches from their mobile devices. Likewise, users should be able to access the knowledge base, submit service desk tickets and check on ticket status wherever they are and regardless of problems with their primary workstations.
    • Bi-directional email integration — The service desk should be able to send and receive information through email in order to automatically create incident tickets, send notifications and export data to other tools.
    • Other integration — Look for an integrated solution that enables technicians to seamlessly access the full spectrum of user and system information from the service desk, including a comprehensive database of systems management information and best practices.

    Everything You Need in One Solution

    The Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance includes an integrated service desk that delivers all of these capabilities and more. With the K1000, you can enable effective communication in every direction to speed issue reporting and resolution, reduce service desk workload, and improve productivity for users and IT staff alike.

    To learn more about why effective communication is vital in a service desk solution and what other functionality it must provide to make your users happy and your IT staff more productive, check out our new white paper, The Ten Key Features You Need in a Service Desk Solution.

    About Stephen Hatch

    Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.

    View all posts by Stephen Hatch

  • KACE Blog

    Service Desk and ITIL: Getting Started, One Step at a Time

    Service Desk

    IT departments today are striving to support new business initiatives, meet regulatory compliance requirements and operate under tough budget constraints.

    Strategically implementing best practices, such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), can help with all of these challenges. ITIL is a mature set of generally accepted information technology control objectives that IT managers, business managers and auditors can use to ensure the delivery of the best possible information services to users and improve IT efficiency and effectiveness.

    But while the potential rewards of ITIL adoption are great, actually implementing these best practices often proves to be a daunting task. All too often, organizations end up with broad, unfocused programs that struggle to deliver incremental value or that are stopped dead in their tracks.

    Fortunately, there are pragmatic ways to incrementally implement ITIL best practices that can reduce complexity and deliver measurable results quickly. It’s critical to choose a solution that enables you to adopt portions of a best practices framework, such as service desk functionality, without having to deploy all of the components immediately. That way, you can implement ITIL in a pragmatic fashion, step by step.

    Choosing a Service Desk that Helps You Align with ITIL Best Practices

    Because IT organizations are often swamped with more trouble tickets than they have resources to address, a service desk solution can be the perfect component to begin your ITIL implementation journey. But it’s important to choose the right one. Look for a service desk solution that will help your organization align with ITIL best practices by delivering the following features and functionality:

    • Flexible incident and problem submission
    • Easy-to-use issue tracking and management capabilities
    • Automated event management that can categorize and prioritize issues and assign tickets to technicians with both the necessary skill set and current availability
    • Facilities management, including the ability to set up separate service desk queues for managing facilities requests
    • A self-service user portal that enables users to easily submit and monitor tickets; access a knowledge base; view information about current known issues; download IT-approved applications and software updates; and complete common tasks such as onboarding and password resets
    • A mobile app that enables admins to perform service desk functions and users to submit and review tickets, regardless of their location
    • Easy integration with other systems, including email, asset management software, and change management solutions

    Pragmatic ITIL implementation with Dell

    If you’re ready to begin a practical, targeted implementations of ITIL best practices, be sure to take a look at the Dell KACE systems management appliances, which will help your organization begin to implement ITIL simply, effectively and inexpensively

    A great place to start is the Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance, which offers an integrated service desk that delivers all the functionality listed above, so you can improve user productivity while reducing IT workload and costs. Then explore how Dell KACE appliances can enable additional ITIL processes, including configuration management, change management and release management, all from a common, centralized interface. You can adopt these components in an orderly fashion, improving IT efficiency and user satisfaction with every step.

    Happy Users and Productive IT Staff

    To learn more about how to choose a service desk that will make your users happy and your IT staff more productive, check out our new white paper, The Ten Key Features You Need in a Service Desk Solution.

    About Stephen Hatch

    Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.

    View all posts by Stephen Hatch

  • KACE Blog

    Green IT— Not Just for Earth Day Anymore?

    The annual Earth Day celebration is upon us, and with it the goal to spotlight the planet’s environment, and increase public awareness of what can be done to reduce pollution and improve sustainability. Started in 1970, the original intent was to organize a nationwide movement that focused on educating people regarding the fragility of our environment, and develop ways to better defend our planet. Initially a grass roots movement, it has gained public support and has been the driver for such mandates as the creation of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Water Quality Improvement Act, among others.

    Reading a recent article about Earth Day and its goals got me thinking about our own world of Information Technology, and how we in IT try to be more ecologically responsible. In fact, it kicked off an informal discussion in our office, which centered on the question... 

    What ever happened to Green IT?

    What had been the topic du jour for technology publications and industry pundits a few short years ago, now seems to have faded away like the iPhone 4. But what might be the reason for the disappearance of Green IT, or at least its shift in focus? My colleagues had some interesting views:

    • It’s a normal day to day activity — IT organizations now simply incorporate sustainability and resource efficiencies in everything they do- it doesn’t need a name or justification to make it a priority.
    • Regulations — The early focus on Green IT has produced both official and unofficial regulations that govern our devices and processes, reducing energy impact and making over consumption an unacceptable option.
    • The cloud — Moving much of the infrastructure for an organization’s IT processing requirements to an on demand service model has de facto reduced the concentration on individual use and footprint, and shifted the ecological onus to the providers.
    • Common sense — While less than ten years ago awareness and an ecological focus for IT needed a boost for acceptance and action, today’s understanding of the limitations of our collective global resources is just the correct way to approach the challenge.

    Just for validation, we did an informal poll of our customers to try to understand their take on Green IT and how it played (or didn’t play) in a variety of organizations. Not surprisingly, we were greeted with a breadth of responses:

    • Issues such as power consumption/savings were at the top of their lists for ecological initiatives, such as automated sleep mode for inactive devices.
    • Decommissioned devices were being recycled, or were being donated to non-profits to extend their useful lives.
    • New purchases all had an eye for optimal energy effectiveness.
    • Virtually all were recycling IT packaging materials.
    • While some said Green IT was not a priority, the bulk said striving for ecological efficiencies were now part of their daily operations.

    Dell has always been a leader in sustainability, from recycling initiatives to innovative ways to create packaging that doesn’t end up as land fill fodder.

    At Dell Software, we’ve also kept an eye toward environmental and ecological best practices via our Dell KACE systems management appliances. The ability to perform centralized configuration management, power down idle endpoint devices via power management capabilities, the elimination of travel necessary for systems deployment and remote management, the availability of a virtual appliance or hosted appliance that reduces energy consumption and resource drain, all combine to make Green IT a reality — even if it’s not today’s top news story.

    Welcome Earth Day, we’re all still working hard on minimizing our IT carbon footprint.

    To that end, we invite you to view an on-demand demonstration of the Dell KACE Systems Management and Systems Deployment Appliances.

    About Stephen Hatch

    Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.

    View all posts by Stephen Hatch

  • KACE Blog

    Meet Kacey — What a Great Addition to Our Systems Management Team!

    We have a new member of our IT systems management team. His name is Kacey.

    He’s just come onboard, but we love him already, and couldn’t live without him.

    Kacey has a ton of systems management responsibilities that he accomplishes every day. There really is no typical day for him, and he loves that.

    He tackles projects with ease and needs very little help from his peers, who are strapped for time and trying to tackle a bunch of strategic initiatives. When we hired him, he was ready to go on day one! He provisions, manages, secures, and services all of our network-connected devices. He pushes out software without requiring the rest of the team to touch anything. He’s great at maintaining inventory of all our hardware and software assets, and making sure we're not paying extra for software licenses we are not using, or being fined for under—license compliance.

    Within the first hour of his first day, he was able to create a whole list of everything we have installed on our network, even non-computing devices like printers and other IoT devices — amazing! This would have taken us hours to muster on our own, especially since we’re always getting new OS installs and additional devices that need to be managed and secured.

    He can complete all his tasks from the comfort of his own UI, from any Internet-enabled device, even a smartphone. There's no need for him or anyone on our team to travel to remote locations just to remediate problems on the users’ devices, or to update their OS or applications. This has saved us thousands in travel costs, especially since we did not have the resources or budget to fund travel. Kacey ensures our users have the OS software and applications they need to do their jobs.

    Kacey has been an incredible asset, timesaver and lifesaver. I’ve never met anyone like him. He cares for our organization by showing what he can do for us on a daily basis. He does everything I need him to do to make our organization continue to grow without any major interruptions or distractions.

    We’ve seen a huge return on investment because we didn’t have to hire an additional system administrator to manually do what he can do in hours. Now, we’re able to redeploy our IT employees, who were taking time to complete their daily “lights on” tasks, to take care of the important strategic projects that our organization is counting on them to complete.

    With Kacey fully on board, I now have time to complete all the projects that are on my to-do list. He makes my life 10 times easier than what it was before. I didn’t have to hire, train, pay, or keep him up to speed. He came to us ready to go, and will continue to keep his capabilities upgraded with one mouse click. It’s like having two extra people on board without the headcount.

    Who is Kacey? He’s (or she’s, as appropriate) the Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance and the Dell KACE K2000 Systems Deployment Appliance — in short, the person in the back room doing all of the systems management tasks the rest of your live team doesn’t have time to complete. Thank goodness for Kacey’s help, without needing the additional headcount.

    Alyssa Luc

    About Alyssa Luc

    Alyssa Luc joined Dell Software in 2015 as a Social Media and Community Advisor for the KACE product team. Her specialties include customer advocacy and advocate marketing.

    View all posts by Alyssa Luc | Twitter

  • KACE Blog

    Finding the Best Service Desk Delivery Option for Your Organization

    In my last blog, I talked about some of the features and functionality every organization needs from a service desk solution. But there’s also a higher level question to consider: which delivery model is best for your enterprise?

    Most organizations are at least somewhat familiar with the on-premises service desk, which comes in both physical and virtual options. But today there is a growing trend toward adopting the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for a variety of IT needs, and in fact SaaS service desk solutions are available. This blog will help you decide which option is best for your organization.

    Benefits of a SaaS-based Service Desk

    • Reduced short-term costs — SaaS solutions replace up-front software investment and irregular ongoing infrastructure maintenance costs with a simple, predictable subscription fee.
    • Time to value — Third-party providers can have a cloud-based service desk up and running quickly. However, keep in mind that an appliance-based on-premises solution can also be implemented in just a few hours.
    • Reduced staffing requirements — Solutions managed by a third party usually require less work from your in-house IT pros than on-premises options, freeing them for other projects.
    • Better collaboration — Centralization of data and services in the cloud can make it easier for everyone to work together, no matter where they are. However, some on-premises solutions offer remote and mobile options that deliver similar value.

    Benefits of an On-Premises Service Desk (Physical or Virtual)

    • Better security and compliance — The security of cloud-based data is always a concern, and in fact it can be difficult to even adequately evaluate a cloud vendor’s security methodologies. Organizations that have highly sensitive data or that must meet stringent compliance regulations often prefer an on-premises solution for ensuring data security and demonstrating compliance.
    • More control — With an on-premises solution, you are not subject to some of the bandwidth limitations and connectivity uncertainties of a cloud-based application, and you can utilize internal support staff for problem resolution and remediation.
    • More features and functionality — Cloud-based solutions sometimes lack critical functionality offered by their on-premises counterparts. Moreover, being cloud-based is no guarantee that a solution will be easy to learn and use; some of the best on-premises solutions have had years to hone their design and interface.
    • Reduced long-term costs — Although an on-premises service desk requires an up-front investment, the perpetual fees and ongoing monthly or annual costs of a SaaS solution can make the on-premises option more cost-effective in the long run.

    The Best Options, All in One Place

    The Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance offers a variety of delivery models to meet every organization’s service desk requirements:

    • On-premises K1000 physical appliance — This all-in-one solution eliminates many of the cost and resource drains of traditional software. A plug-and-play server delivers the ease of use, comprehensive functionality, fast implementation, and stress-free upgrades and maintenance that cloud-based solutions promise, along with the added security and controls many organizations require.
    • On-premises K1000 virtual appliance — This virtual instance of the physical appliance includes all the same service desk functionality and benefits, but with the added energy and resource savings of a virtual form factor.
    • K1000 as a Service — The cloud-hosted virtual version of the appliance is offered on a subscription basis. This SaaS option further reduces infrastructure maintenance and ongoing costs without compromising functionality.

    To Learn More

    Of course, you also need your service desk to provide all the functionality that both you and your users need. Check out our new whitepaper, “The Ten Key Features You Need in a Service Desk Solution,” to learn how choose a service desk solution that will make your users happy and your IT staff more productive.

    About Stephen Hatch

    Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.

    View all posts by Stephen Hatch

  • KACE Blog

    Improve User Support with a Flexible, Integrated Service Desk

    The service desk is often the face of the IT department organization-wide, so you want a solution that keeps your users happy. That means, primarily, a service desk that reduces mean time to resolution (MTTR) and helps ensure that issues are addressed properly on the first call. But today’s resource-constrained organizations also need a solution that minimizes IT workload and costs.

    Fortunately, these two goals are not mutually exclusive. In fact, by automating and streamlining ticket creation and processing, you speed issue resolution — getting users back to work quickly and with less effort and frustration all around. It’s a win-win.

    The key is choosing a flexible, integrated service desk solution. Be sure to look for the following features and functionality:

    • User self-service and an integrated knowledge base — Users should be able to perform frequently needed tasks, such as password resets, without help from IT. Providing them with information about known issues and workarounds and keeping them updated about current problems will further reduce ticket volume and IT help desk workload.
    • Easy ticket creation — Users should also be able to easily report issues and include relevant information, such as screen shots. But you should also future-proof your investment by choosing a solution that integrates with email-enabled devices and the internet of things (IoT). That way, as you adopt more of those devices, they will be able to proactively report their own existing or impending problems (such as a printer running low on toner).
    • Easy access to ticket status — A solution that keeps both IT staff and users informed about ticket status will reduce phone calls, frustration and confusion.
    • Multiple ticket queues — Look for a flexible solution that can serve multiple concerns or departments. For example, one queue might process users’ IT issues while another handles building maintenance requests.
    • Automated workflows — Look for help desk software that makes it easy to automate routine tasks such as onboarding. This automation improves user satisfaction and productivity while reducing IT workload.
    • Automated ticket assignment and escalation — An IT ticketing system that can automatically direct tickets to engineers who have both availability and the necessarily skill set will help ensure first-call resolution. Similarly, the ability to automatically escalate stalled tickets through the appropriate channels will help keep them moving so you can meet your SLAs.
    • Seamless integration with other systems — Service desk technicians and IT engineers should be able to easily access relevant information, including device and user history and details about how other tickets have been resolved in the past. But a service desk should go further, enabling easy integration that enables technicians to perform software asset management tasks such as distributing software updates and deploying patches, as well as tasks like pinging a host to check network status and latency, all directly from one management console. The ticketing software should also integrate seamlessly with your email system for both inbound and outbound messages.
    • Mobile access — In today’s mobile economy, organizations need a solution that enables both IT staff and end users to access information and perform tasks on the go.

    Where can you get all this?

    The Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance includes a service desk that delivers all these features and more. This flexible, integrated solution is easy for both end users and IT staff to use. It empowers users with an intuitive self-service portal while giving you the flexibility to customize tickets and queues and to automate a wide range of processes. Integration with other systems enables further automation and speeds access to information and functionality required for issue resolution. And its mobile app supports both end users and IT staff any time, anywhere.

    To Learn More

    To learn more about how to choose a service desk solution that will make your users happy and your IT staff more productive, check out our new whitepaper, “The Ten Key Features You Need in a Service Desk Solution.”

    About Stephen Hatch

    Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.

    View all posts by Stephen Hatch

  • KACE Blog

    6 Sure-Fire Steps to a Holistic Endpoint Management and Network Security Approach

    When it comes to managing and securing the IT environment today, it’s easy to focus on one area and fail to see the broader picture. We call that technology tunnel vision.

    The more hectic and heterogeneous your IT environment becomes, the more likely you are to develop tunnel vision. In particular you can focus so intently on endpoint management that you take your eye off the ball of network security. It’s the natural but undesirable result of having your IT assets in different silos, without a centralized endpoint management system in place. Today, those assets include not only desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, but a growing variety of devices from bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives, wearables and other connected devices from the internet of things (IoT), and more.

    This complexity has brought us to a tipping point. IT resources are overwhelmed, OPEX is skyrocketing, and organizations worldwide are experiencing security breaches that can damage both their reputations and their bottom lines.

    Six Sure-Fire Steps to Delivering a Holistic Endpoint Management and Network Security Approach

    How can IT manage today’s explosion of endpoints without getting stuck in silos and losing sight of network security? The way to eliminate tunnel vision is to replace the traditional siloed approach to systems management with a holistic view of network infrastructure and a fully integrated solution that offers centralized control and network security management. Here are six key steps to take:

    1. Be sure to have a fully documented and implemented BYOD strategy and policy in place. That will enable you to follow and secure your data anywhere it goes.
    2. Know that shadow IT is at work in your organization and plan for it. IT managers are accustomed to knowing (or thinking they know) about everything happening on the network, including all the devices connected to it and all the applications running on it. But with the high expectations of users and the consumerization of IT, that is a risky mindset to adopt.
    3. Put in place a centralized endpoint management system. That means trimming your arsenal of tools for managing the variety of endpoints. Tools that support only a particular OS or a certain application are management silos waiting to happen. Before you can manage all your devices, your tools must know where to find them. Be sure to include mobile device management (MDM).
    4. Ensure you can easily deploy, patch and update applications and block unwanted applications from running. This application management and control will improve not only compliance but also security, performance and availability.
    5. Build automated processes to save time and money, improve accuracy, and enable you to reallocate your precious resources to innovation and growth initiatives.
    6. Deploy a future-ready security approach that will secure your endpoints, data, network and user identities, including emerging technologies such as IoT devices. 

    To Learn More

    Be sure to check out this new e-book to learn more about escaping the downward spiral of technology tunnel vision. We explain how to replace your traditional, siloed approach to systems management with a more holistic view of your network infrastructure and a fully integrated solution that delivers both centralized management, and network and data security.

    And please let me know how you are fighting technology tunnel vision in your IT environment.

    David Manks

    About David Manks

    David Manks is a Solutions Marketing Director for Dell Software focusing on endpoint management and security products.

    View all posts by David Manks  | Twitter

  • KACE Blog

    Technology in Education — 3 Big Issues for Student-Centered Learning

    Getting the most out of the educational process while also getting the most out of technology is a tricky balance.

    Guiding education responsibly is the process of mixing learning models, creativity, exercises and spontaneity. Managing IT responsibly seems to be the process of saying “no” most of the time, as I mentioned earlier in this blog post series.

    But when the two are in balance, and one-size-fits-all instruction gives way to flexible, student-centered learning both inside and outside the classroom, then the biggest winners are the students.

    Student-Centered Learning — Three Big Issues

    We’ve released a new e-book called Aligning the Learning Model with the IT Model to emphasize the role of IT in helping educators teach the way they want and students learn the way they need. From years of experience with school districts and colleges worldwide, Dell has identified three big issues IT faces in playing that role:

    1.    Managing all endpoints from a single appliance

    It might make your job easier if you could ban all Windows laptops or iPads from your network, but it wouldn’t make you very popular. It might also cramp the diversity your school needs to develop its learning model.

    But if you have to live with that many platforms on your network, you’d probably prefer to have a single tool and interface to manage all of them. Straddling separate tools for separate platforms gets old quickly, so managing all endpoints from a single appliance is a priority for many system administrators in education.

    2.    Supporting assessments and testing

    When the technology required to administer tests was limited to filling in bubbles on a test sheet with a pencil, teachers managed on their own. As standardized testing has moved to PCs, Chromebooks and tablets, they rely on IT to keep the devices updated, the network reliable and the students honest.

    IT can configure and maintain a secure image, but then it has to provision every device with it. Automating that process is a huge time-saver; without automation, the task becomes unwieldy, error-prone and unreliable.

    3.    Fostering interoperability

    Consider some of the moving parts behind a school’s portal:

    • Student information system
    • Learning management system (LMS)
    • Data warehouse
    • Parent notification system
    • Single sign-on for digital content
    • Communication platform to connect students, teachers and administration

    When those moving parts are made without standards in mind, they become harder for IT to manage and control. It should be possible for sysadmins to monitor the machines running those components and keep them interoperable.

    New E-book: Aligning the Learning Model with the IT Model

    We’ve put together an e-book called Aligning the Learning Model with the IT Model. Starting from the concept of student-centered learning, it draws the path to systems management and systems deployment with Dell KACE appliances in education. Have a look at the e-book for three case studies and more details on aligning learning with IT in both K-12 and higher education.

    Christopher Garcia

    About Christopher Garcia

    A ten-year Dell veteran, Chris has had experience in various marketing roles within the organization. He is currently a Senior Product Marketing Manager.

    View all posts by Christopher Garcia 

  • KACE Blog

    The Dell KACE 2000 and Deployment to Skylake-powered PCs — Like the Platform Change from Vinyl to Cassettes

    Once upon a time, you’d take your records to a party at your friend’s house and she’d put them onto her record player. It’s how you shared music.

    One day, you took your records to a party at a new friend’s house to share your music with her.

    “Oh, sorry,” she said. “We only have cassettes. We can’t play your records on our cassette deck.”

    It was a drag when you couldn’t play your music on someone else’s platform, especially when you’d spent ages buying, collecting and trading up a solid collection of your favorites.

    Sure, cassettes sounded better than all the skipping and crackling of records, and they made it possible to listen to your music in the car or anywhere you had a portable cassette player. But standing there in your friend’s living room with a stack of vinyl you couldn’t play, it was no fun learning your first lesson about platform changes.

    Platforms Will Never Stop Changing

    That brings me to a recent change in computing platforms. Laptop computers and all-in-one PCs have begun shipping with the 6th generation of Intel Core processors, also known as Skylake. You’ve probably already seen messages that look like this:

    Your company will start purchasing those systems soon, or maybe they’ll start coming in through BYOD. You’ll want to install your corporate system images on them, the images you’ve painstakingly built, balanced and refined over previous generations of Core processors.

    “Oh, sorry,” IT will say. “We can’t install your images on 6th-generation processors.”

    So there you’ll be, once again a victim of platform changes.

    Sure, there are plenty of reasons to upgrade to the 6th generation of Intel Core processors. You get higher processing speed and Hyper-Threading Technology for smoother multitasking, with sharper 3D and advanced video/photo editing.

    But those improvements required new microcode and new memory reference code for the DDR4-capable controller, which required a new BIOS.  Many of the drivers at the OS level are new because the previous ones were not Skylake-aware. And Windows 10 now includes support for Speed Shift, which offloads transitions in processor power from OS to hardware control. You’ll get better system responsiveness with lower power consumption.

    But you can’t play your records on it.

    KACE 2000 for Deploying Images to Skylake-powered PCs

    Yes, you’ll have to build out and test new images with Skylake-compatible versions of the drivers and application software your users need to get their job done. Getting the most out of the 6th generation of Intel Core processors may mean that you have to go back to the drawing board and assemble new images.

    But at least you won’t have to provision each new laptop or PC manually. You can use the KACE K2000 Systems Deployment Appliance to ensure that your new computers will be properly imaged and ready to work on day one. If you use the unattended installation capability of the K2000 to deploy operating systems, you won’t be affected at all. And if you deploy images, the unattended installation feature automates the image building process, making the creation of a Skylake-compatible image much easier.

    The K2000 saves you time and money by automating the traditional, manual process of imaging dozens or hundreds of computers. Furthermore, with the K2000’s abilities to copy existing hardware drivers that exist on your network and use them for other systems that might need them, you will save time that is usually spent hunting and gathering the right drivers. It’s your assurance that the right applications get to the right profiles, that driver updates will enable all of the capabilities of each new system and that all deployment tasks run from a single, central location, no matter how many remote locations you have to support.

    Platform changes are inevitable; the K2000 makes deployment to them manageable. It won’t play your vinyl music on a cassette deck — nothing will — but once you’ve collected apps and drivers and built up the images you want to share across all your 6th-generation Intel Core-powered computers, the K2000 will make it easier to convert your records to tapes by including a tape recorder.

    At the right party, that’s even cooler than cassettes.

    See how the Green Clinic Health System has slashed its deployment costs and saved IT 20 hours a week on desktop management.

    Christopher Garcia

    About Christopher Garcia

    A ten-year Dell veteran, Chris has had experience in various marketing roles within the organization. He is currently a Senior Product Marketing Manager.

    View all posts by Christopher Garcia 

  • KACE Blog

    Technology in Education — Managing Endpoints in Student-Centered Learning

    Where technology and education meet, what is the role of IT managers like you?

    Nobody will ask you to prepare lesson plans or call roll. Nobody needs you to stay after and tutor the students who need help. In fact, you don’t even need to set foot in the classroom.

    When you’re not performing systems management and deployment, and building up the infrastructure to support hundreds or thousands of devices, it seems as though you spend most of your time saying “no:”

    • No, you may not put your BYO tablet on the same network as the school’s PCs.
    • No, you may not visit warez or social media sites.
    • No, I won’t grant you administrator access to your laptop.
    • No, you may not skip security patching just this once.
    • No, you may not load your favorite games onto your machine.

    Is it hard to think that you’re helping technology advance in education, when you say “no” so often?

    Managing Endpoints in Student-Centered Learning

    But without IT, education would move even more slowly than it seems to move now.

    Why? Because if you didn’t say “no,” all of those things you’re forbidding would cause vastly more problems than they do. Teachers and students would waste much more time watching pages load and wondering why they couldn’t print. Your colleagues in IT would spend most of their time cleaning up hard drives and undoing people’s experiments.

    I mentioned the changing roles of IT managers in my previous post. Before IT was formalized in most schools, technology in the classroom was a collection of mismatched, barely functioning computers on a table near the back door. Quantity mattered in those days, and IT systems management was a matter of sorting through as many donated computers as possible and getting them to run some piece of educational software.

    IT managers in education have seen their role change from maximizing the number of computing devices per classroom to maximizing the number of devices — PCs, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones — they can reasonably control on the network.

    The diversity of operating systems — Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS and *nix — further complicates the picture as IT administrators try to manage endpoints to support student-centered learning. Systems management, provisioning and deployment are now must-haves.

    New E-book: Aligning the Learning Model with the IT Model

    Our new e-book, Aligning the Learning Model with the IT Model describes the changing role of IT in student-centered learning. It examines systems management and systems deployment in education, including three case studies of school districts and colleges that use Dell KACE appliances to inventory manage and patch their IT assets across large and small student populations.

    Christopher Garcia

    About Christopher Garcia

    A ten-year Dell veteran, Chris has had experience in various marketing roles within the organization. He is currently a Senior Product Marketing Manager.

    View all posts by Christopher Garcia