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  • KACE Blog

    Why We're Moving to a New Community. Hint: It's About Our Customers

    Today, the new SIM Community is live! Please join us on our new home for all Systems and Information Management content. Read about all of the new features with in the SIM Community and learn how our community seeks to give you the information you need. Please check out our new blog.

    We promise to give you a more focused user experience in our new community where you can get the information you want through an easier navigation. If you have suggestions on how we can make our new home better, post your thoughts on our Feedback Forum.

  • KACE Blog

    The Fuzzy Art of Solution Evaluation: 8 Broader Questions for Choosing the Right Solution and Vendor

    A couple of weeks ago, I offered seven key questions for building a solid evaluation methodology to help you as you embark on any journey to select new technologies, whether you’re looking for information systems management software, endpoint security and endpoint management tools, cloud technologies, or other solutions.

    But once you’ve defined your process for solution evaluation, what happens next?

    It’s time to think about the broader questions. After all, it’s not all just a feature/function checklist that gets you where you need to be, but the sum of both tangible and less-tangible solution (and vendor) characteristics. Keep in mind your end game, which includes both enhancing your competitive advantage and returning more time for innovation, especially for the IT team.

    Here are eight key questions to ask yourself:

    1. What’s our major pain point? Your organization needs to agree on the major goal for the solution. For example, are you most concerned about improving customer service, user support or network security? Or perhaps about making the most of your limited IT staff? Are quick implementation and fast time to value critical? Of course, the major pain point will likely be different for, say, an endpoint protection tool than for IT management software.
    2. Is the solution right-sized? Like most everything we purchase, technology comes in high-, mid- and low-end options. Consider whether a candidate solution can meet your organization’s needs without either adding superfluous capabilities or short-changing important requirements.
    3. Does the solution offer all the capabilities you need? Here’s where you pull out the feature/function checklist and ensure the solution ticks all the boxes. Take the time to be exhaustive in your consideration.
    4. What are the pros and cons of the competitor candidates? Be sure to take a close look at the more subtle characteristics of each vendor. Are they innovative? Will they invest in the solution moving forward?
    5. Is the form factor what your organization needs? On premises, as a managed service or in the cloud — most solutions today offer a variety of delivery vehicles. Think through which is best for your infrastructure, ongoing maintenance and security needs.
    6. How is the vendor’s reliability and support? After the purchase is made, will the vendor be there with education, technical support and regular upgrades?
    7. Does the vendor’s philosophy and approach align with yours? This may seem really fuzzy, but it is important to be in sync, since you’ll have to collaborate with the vendor to get your desired results.
    8. Can the vendor validate ROI? Bottom line, can the vendor provide substantiation that your IT investment will deliver a solid, calculable return?

    Applying These Criteria to Systems Management Solutions

    If you’re wondering how to work these questions into your solution evaluation, take at look at our new Endpoint Systems Management Evaluation Guide. This checklist includes not only features and functionality but also the best fit considerations detailed above. And if you’re in the market for a systems management solution, be sure to put Dell KACE on your list. Dell KACE systems management appliances provide an all-in-one solution that is comprehensive, easy to use, fast to implement and actively supported. We invite you to see how they rate under even the most rigorous solution evaluation methodology.

    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

    5 Summer Essentials to Get You Through the Long, Hot Days

    Today is the first official day of summer and people are starting to get geared up for many warm weather activities. While your kids are on summer break, you’ll probably spend more time with family and friends. As the days get hotter and the nights get warmer, now is the perfect time to soak up some Vitamin D, spend some time away from work, and have a nice cold beverage.

    How ever you decide to spend your time, here are five summer essentials to get you through the long, hot days, especially while you’re out on vacation:

    1. Sunscreen

    No one likes a bad sunburn. Sunscreen is extremely important to protect your skin from UV rays, which can have long-term effects if not treated properly. Wearing sunscreen will ensure your skin is protected from sun damage and you won’t need aloe vera at your bedside.

    2. Sunglasses

    Find a nice pair of sunglasses to shade your eyes from the blinding sun. This will ensure visibility to your surroundings when you go hiking or when you fire up the grill. Did you know your eyes can get sunburn too?

    3. A comfortable wardrobe

    Put away the sweaters and pull out the polo shirts. Shorts, swim suits, sandals/sneakers, and a hat are all a must if you are planning on some outdoor activities. It’s never too late to inventory what items you have, need to replace, or simply get rid of.

    4. A beach bag or backpack

    Whether you’re going to the beach or going to a theme park with the kids, a bag or backpack will take you far. Fill it up with everything you need so you know what’s on hand, and you’ll be set for the day.

    5. The right gadgets

    If you’re planning a pool party, barbeque, or a camping/fishing trip, you’re going to need the appropriate gadgets. Goggles and pool floats to swim, a cooler for food and drinks, bug repellant spray and a camp lantern, or some travel apps would make your life easier. Make sure you prepare ahead of time so you don’t forget an essential part of the plan.

    6. A clean makeover (bonus)

    Shave off that winter beard, clean up that hairdo and look fresh all summer while you’re at the beach or hitting the pool. Be careful of tan lines!

    Summer feels like a much slower time, but I say this every year: Where did summer go? Fortunately, you won’t have to stress about work while you’re away because Dell KACE has it under control, and can be another one of your summer essentials. KACE systems management appliances can provision, manage, secure, and service all of your network connected devices so you can focus on spending time with your family instead of being trapped at work. Relax — it’s time to make summer memories, and let Dell KACE appliances handle your systems management chores.

    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

    Automated Systems Imaging Could Help You Win the Game of Thrones

    Nothing makes you feel more like a king at work than saving your company a bunch of money. Whether it’s actual cash money or just a ton of man hours, being able to wipe thousands of dollars off your organization’s list of expenses and add it back to the bottom line is a sure fire way to win the Employee of the Year or Decade throne.

    So how do you accomplish such a huge achievement without dragons or sorcery?

    First, you need to identify the opportunities in front of you. So take a look at the following questions and see if any of them hit home.

    • Do users — or management — complain that it takes too long to configure and deploy new systems?
    • Do you dread OS migrations, knowing you’ll be putting in long days and weekends to achieve only limited success?
    • Do you wish you had a way to automatically deploy hundreds or thousands of systems running a variety of operating systems?
    • Does maintaining remote systems across a wide geographical area put Jon Snow’s trek to shame, costing you too much time and money?

    If two or more of these made you feel like winter is coming and had you grabbing for the nearest roll of antacids, then you, my friend, are in for a very nice surprise.

    The surprise is the Dell KACE K2000 Systems Deployment Appliance. It’s a multi-OS solution chock full of deployment tools that streamlines initial provisioning and ongoing administration of master system images and driver updates, so you can easily ensure that all your connected systems remain up to date and secure. Because of its all-in-one, appliance-based form factor, the K2000 dramatically reduces complexity, deploys quickly and minimizes ongoing maintenance, reducing total cost of ownership. Even better, it enables deployment of disk images, operating systems, drivers and applications at remote sites via remote site management, without requiring dedicated, on-site hardware or staff, which will save you from those time eating treks.

    The reward for utilizing system images and deployment software is pretty clear. A recent Gartner study stated that by 2020, there will be more than 21 billion connected devices. If there is nothing else you take away from this article, it’s that your network is growing, and to ensure connected systems remain up to date and secure, you need help.

    There are a wide variety of examples of organizations that have invested in the K2000 and gone from spending multiple days and many IT staff hours manually updating systems, to updating their entire user base with a few clicks of the mouse and saving time and thousands of dollars at the same time.

    How Green Clinic Won

    One example is Green Clinic. When Green Clinic deployed an electronic medical records (EMR) system, the K2000 made quick work of getting the application into doctors' hands utilizing the KACE K2000 software deployment tool. While manual deployment methods would have required weeks of effort, the KACE K2000 enabled the IT team to image and deploy all 155 laptops in just one day, saving 80 hours of overtime valued at $20,000, in just one project.

    If you haven’t deployed a true systems deployment appliance like the K2000, you are sitting on a savings motherlode. The benefits of systems imaging with the K2000 can be enormous: you may not end up with a flowy man perm like Jon Snow or even a dragon like Daenerys Targaryen, but it will save you a boat load of time and money and maybe even help you win the IT game of thrones!  If you want to become your IT department’s hero, click on the link below to read our e-book and learn more about how you can save with the Dell KACE K2000 Systems Deployment Appliance.

  • KACE Blog

    How Device Proliferation Impacts Endpoint Systems Management for Your Growing Organization

    Growing organizations have an increasing number of connected devices on their network, and IT teams are spending more time managing and securing these devices, and the applications they deliver. Device proliferation is a growing trend for which IT professionals are not prepared, requiring time consuming day-to-day tasks to simply keep the IT lights on, helping to keep end users productive. A recent Dimensional Research study reported 61 percent of IT organizations say they already have unknown devices and applications on their networks. This means that the more devices that are connected, the more vulnerable your network is to security threats, thus increasing your chances of malicious attacks from online sources and malware threats. Without an effective endpoint systems management solution, the business impact can be catastrophic.

    That’s why your organization should have an endpoint systems management solution that works for — and with — you. In our upcoming Dell Software Virtual Trade Show on June 23, you can learn about the impact of device proliferation, and how to meet the challenges that affect your daily IT tasks using Dell KACE systems management appliances. They are fast to implement, easy to use, and provide the most comprehensive endpoint systems management solution for identifying and managing all network connected devices, including:

    • Windows PCs
    • Macs
    • Chromebooks
    • Linux, UNIX, & Windows Servers
    • Tablets
    • Printers
    • Storage
    • IoT devices

    The plug-and-play Dell KACE appliances are available in a variety of form factors, including on premises physical and virtual appliances, as well as a hosted service. They can help your IT staff provision, manage, secure and service all network-connected devices faster – giving your organization more time to innovate.

    Learn More: Register for this Live Webcast

    There are multiple ways we can help you save valuable time:

    1. Automate processes: KACE appliances will help you reduce IT time and resources for system provisioning, maintenance, patching and service desk responses.
    2. Reduce infrastructure costs: KACE appliances replace complicated software-only implementations with a plug-and-play solution, eliminating lengthy infrastructure acquisition and roll out, and the need for extensive training.
    3. Reduce time to value: KACE appliances deliver hardware and software inventory on day one, and then continue to deliver benefits that allow you to achieve an ROI in six months or less.
    4. Optimize the user experience: KACE appliances will reduce user downtime, plus ensure software license compliance. You’ll be able to roll out applications in two weeks, not two months, and avoid exposure to fines or overpayment for unused licenses.

    Our goal is to become your ally and help you reduce IT administrative time so you can have more time to focus on strategic initiatives and help your organization grow. At the Dell Software Virtual Trade Show, join our live webcast at 11:00am ET where subject matter expert, Ken Chalberg, will discuss managing the entire endpoint systems management lifecycle, from systems deployment to retirement. Whether you need help with initial system deployment and imaging, managing and protecting your systems or providing them with world class support, Dell KACE offers a comprehensive set of tools to address your needs. Register today to learn more. We hope to see you there.

    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

    The Fuzzy Art of Solution Evaluation: 7 Key Questions for Building a Solid Evaluation Methodology

    So you’ve been assigned to evaluate a new technology or application for your organization. Yikes! What next?

    First of all, remember that you’re not alone. Many growing organizations are faced with the task of selecting a increasingly wide variety of sophisticated solutions for endpoint security, cloud initiatives, systems management and more. Accordingly, the codification of the fuzzy art surrounding the evaluation process itself has become increasingly important. It’s no long enough to cobble together an ad hoc committee, draft a list of requirements and then let the vendor pitches commence. Planning for and defining the components of the evaluation process are now an essential piece of the bigger project, and critical to its success.

    Developing a comprehensive, reusable solution evaluation methodology

    Some of these planning steps may seem obvious, while others take a bit more concentrated brain power to articulate. This list of seven key questions will help you develop a more comprehensive solution evaluation methodology:

    1. Who are the stakeholders? Take the time to identify the appropriate members for the selection team and to understand both their roles and their interest in the project. You’ll likely want a different team for evaluating endpoint management or endpoint protection tools than for broader information systems management Solutions.
    2. Who has the decision-making power? Distinguish recommenders from decision makers, and clearly articulate roles and final approval authority.
    3. What resources are required? Consider how long the evaluation process is likely to take and make sure that all participants have bandwidth to participate throughout. You need management buy-in for both the project itself and the required allocation of employee time.
    4. Have you formulated your list of questions and solution criteria? Be sure to involve all affected constituencies as you determine what you need from the solution you choose. In addition to thinking about specific features, be sure to include broad, strategic questions, such as whether the solution will enhance your competitive advantage and how much time it will free up for innovation, especially for the IT team.
    5. What’s the process for determining prospective vendor participation? The proper research legwork is necessary to narrow the pool of possible providers based on a mapping of your solution requirements to the functionality provided by available solutions.
    6. What kind of supporting vendor activities do you require? Do you need an RFP, demo, trial or proof of concept? References? Legal approvals?
    7. Who will do the final analysis? Determine who will be charged with the final analysis and presentation of objective conclusions.

    There’s no doubt that solution evaluations require work — and lots of it. But as technology evolves and new offerings enter the market, the evaluation process itself becomes an even more critical foundation for future success.

    Applying the evaluation methodology to systems management solutions

    If you’re in the market for a systems management solution, we’ve done some of the work for you. Our new Endpoint Systems Management Evaluation Guide lays out a comprehensive list of features and functionality to look for in any candidate solution, helping to make the systems management solution evaluation process as inclusive and straightforward as possible, In fact, even if you’re not currently looking for systems management software at the moment, you might still find it useful to take a look at the guide and perhaps even use it as a template for your own list of questions and solution criteria.

    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

    Connect, Explore and Learn – Without Leaving Your Keyboard

    Join the Dell Software Virtual Trade Show on June 23, 2016 and learn from industry experts through live webcasts, network with like-minded individuals, and explore Dell Software solutions, all from the comfort of your own chair. You’ll have the opportunity to share best practices, tips and tricks, and stay on top of the latest software trends and technologies. This virtual event features a full day of live presentations, so get ready, get comfortable, and collaborate.

    At the Dell Software Virtual Trade Show, you’ll be able to:

    • Learn about the different Dell Software solutions relevant to your growing organization’s IT challenges and needs
    • Hear from industry experts and IT thought leaders via live, web-based amphitheater presentations
    • View, download and save valuable resources such as presentations, white papers, case studies and  webinars  on such topics as asset management, ITAM, patch management, software deployment and more
    • Visit seven different booths hosted by Dell Software subject matter experts and get the experience of attending a real software tradeshow, virtually
    • Participate in live chats and discussions while networking with worldwide peers in real time

    Visit the virtual KACE booth to learn more about endpoint systems management and hear from subject matter expert, Ken Chalberg, who will discuss the challenges of device proliferation, ESM lifecycle management, and the benefits of all things KACE.

    This is no-cost, one-day event will run live from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET. It’s time for a new approach to controlling, securing and modernizing your IT world. Join us at the Dell Software Virtual Tradeshow, and see how the power to change your organization’s IT strategy is, literally, at your fingertips.

  • KACE Blog

    Tech Tools for Schools: New Initiatives, More Devices

    You don’t have to look hard in the media to find articles reporting a shortage of software developers and other IT professionals in the job market today. Educators and policy makers alike are responding. Computer science was finally listed as a core academic subject in the U.S. in December 2015 with the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and initiatives such as CS for All promise increased funding. The topic even made President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address, when he urged the country to offer “every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”

    However, technology in education today extends far beyond computer science instruction. Technology is broadly recognized as a tool for enabling a variety of educational goals, from mathematics to languages to study skills and research. In addition, it is a key component of increasingly popular programs such as blended learning and personalized learning.

    Moreover, EdNET Insight’s “State of the K-12 Market 2015: Executive Summary” notes that while the major technology companies began as providers of devices, operating systems and digital tools, they are moving in new directions as well. For example, the report notes, “Amazon, Google, and Apple have digital marketplaces to distribute the content and educational apps of others. Amazon has taken this a step further, acquiring ed tech company TenMarks in 2013 and elevating the startup’s co-founder to general manager of Amazon Education.”

    With the support of companies like these, educators are increasingly using technology to drive collaboration — for both students and teachers. For example, Google Apps for Education comprises a suite of free productivity tools for classroom collaboration, and Google Educator Groups (GEGs) “provide a platform for educators to collaborate with one another, allowing them to pick up new creative ideas from one another, and to help each other best meet the needs of their students with Google solutions.”

    It’s no wonder, then, that school districts are eager to put devices into the hands of all their students. The EdNET Insight report notes that the top two priorities of technology directors are building out their wireless networks and providing personal computing devices to their students. It also reports “some significant shifts in districts’ preferences for various kinds of devices and their plans for deploying them. Technology directors plan to rely on Chromebooks much more than a year ago, while tablets figure less prominently in their hardware plans.” However, both laptops and tablets still have a significant presence.

    Next Step

    With the increasing use of Chromebooks for education against a backdrop of a diverse variety of other technologies in educational settings, it’s critical for IT administrators to have an effective tool for managing all network-connected devices from a single pane of glass, and not just the Chromebook management provided by the Google Chromebook Management Console. Only Dell offers a systems management solution that enables you to manage Chromebooks alongside all your other network-connected devices, with features such as comprehensive asset management, remote administration and an integrated service desk. To learn more, download our new tech brief, “Educators Love Chromebooks. Now IT Admins Will, Too.”

    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

    Why Workstation Security is Even More Complex Than Server Security

    Common wisdom holds that server security is far more critical than workstation security. After all, a security problem in a server can affect thousands of users or even an entire organization, while an insecure workstation directly impacts just one user. Right?

    Wrong. A security problem on any workstation connected to your network can cause widespread damage — and in fact most data breaches result from such problems. Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigative Report, for example, found that 63 percent of data breaches involved the use of weak, default or stolen user credentials. Malware, phishing and keyloggers were the next most common attack methods, Windows security expert Randy Franklin Smith concurs, noting that “all of the biggest breaches in recent times have started with a compromised workstation — not a server.”

    The takeaway is clear: Workstation security is every bit as critical to your organization as server security. (Note that I’m using the word “workstation” here to mean not just desktops but all non-server Windows computers, so we’re talking about endpoint security broadly, including laptop security, tablet security and mobile security.)

    Key security differences between servers and workstations

    But how can this be? Even though servers and workstations run essentially the same Windows operating system, securing workstations is very different than servers — and often it’s actually far more complex. The key differences that impact security include:

    • Servers run mostly unattended background services, while workstations are far more interactive.
    • Servers are usually housed in secure areas, but workstations lack this physical security. The mobility of laptops and tablets further increases the risk of the device being compromised.
    • Workstations have much more interaction with untrusted websites and parsing of internet content, raising a host of internet security concerns.
    • Servers are accessed only by trusted administrators. Employees using workstations are often less security-conscious and less technically savvy.
    • Far more applications are installed on workstations than on servers, increasing the attack surface.
    • Server inventory is small and static in comparison to the sheer number of workstations and how they come and go on the network.

    Workstation security requires protecting users from themselves

    More broadly, securing Windows servers is primarily about reducing attack surface and keeping remote users from accessing resources and services other than those they are authorized to use. Since trusted administrators are the only ones logging on interactively, and even they do so only for specific administrative tasks, interactive security is much less of an issue on most servers.

    Hardening workstations, on the other hand, is very much about protecting end users from themselves. Of course, a key part of your organization’s workstation security strategy must be effective and continuous user training. However, the details and scheduling of that training is likely beyond your control. And in any case, even the best training is insufficient — IT security professionals have to accept that users will make mistakes. They will fall for phishing attacks, reuse easy-to-guess passwords, leave their workstations unattended, plead the expediency of downloading an unapproved application they need to meet a critical deadline, and so on.

    Therefore, you need to use every strategy at your disposal to secure your user workstations.

    Learn about the most important controls for ensuring workstation security

    What are those strategies? We asked the aforementioned Randy Franklin Smith, who’s an expert on Windows security essentials. You can learn all about the top controls he recommends implementing on workstations in the free webinar Top 12 Workstation Security Controls. Smith built this list of controls based on his experience from his extensive IT audit/assessment practice, along with his research and knowledge of common desktop security standards such the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (now USGCB). Here are the 12 topics you’ll learn about in the webinar:

    • BIOS security
    • Controlling local accounts
    • Controlling unattended workstations
    • Encryption
    • Auditing
    • Anti-malware
    • Patch security
    • Tracking new programs
    • Internet Explorer security configuration
    • Security settings in other apps
    • Network, firewall and remote access
    • Certificate authorities

    You’ll also learn how Dell KACE system management appliances can automatically discover and manage all the systems on your network — automating the otherwise laborious and error-prone work of securing workstations. The recorded webinar is available for you to watch at your convenience.

    Sean Musil

    About Sean Musil

    Sean Musil is a Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He believes the internet should be free and secure.

    View all posts by Sean Musil  | Twitter

  • KACE Blog

    Are You on the Light Side or Dark Side?

    Today, May 4th, is a special day for "Star Wars" fans. “May the Fourth be with you” is a play on the popular line “May the Force be with you.” Many fans take the day to celebrate their love for the movie in various ways, such as hosting a Star Wars movie marathon, fighting with light sabers, dressing up as a favorite character or adding to their collection of "Star Wars" memorabilia.

    We decided to celebrate "Star Wars Day" by having a fun discussion. We asked a few of our customers this question: “Are you on the dark side or the light side and why?” Which of their responses resonates best with you?

    Choose Wisely You Must

    “Light side. Sith are weaker than Jedi.”

    “Dark side. We have more fun on this side.”

    “Light side. Good needs to prevail if we are all to survive.”

    “Dark side. We have cookies!”

    “Light side. Ours is the correct path.”

    “Dark side. Unlimited power!”

    “Light side. The dark side may have cookies, but we have brownies.”

    “Dark side. Clothes are way better looking.”

    “Light side. It always seems to win and we don’t get hit by blasters.”

    “Dark side. Red sabers — end of discussion.”

    While our customers are divided on this great debate, one thing is certain:  IT systems professionals maintain the balance in the IT force, which surrounds us, penetrates us and binds us together. And there’s no better solution to help balance the IT force than Dell KACE systems management appliances. With Dell KACE, the IT force can be strong with you, too.

    Whether you’re on the light side or the dark side, we celebrate "Star Wars Day" with you.

    May the Fourth be with you.

    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