Kace introduces systems provisioning appliance for SMBs

Network management vendor Kace this week introduced a suite of products to help IT managers at small to midsize companies automate the process of provisioning systems to desktops, laptops and servers.

The KBOX 2000 Series of appliances included technologies to help IT managers more easily roll out systems and deploy applications to local and remote desktops and laptops. The appliance can be installed in a network to perform a range of functions, from remote disk imaging to remote and unattended scripted installation, the company says.

"We felt systems deployment was a natural next step to the systems management appliance suite," says Lubos Parobek, director of product marketing at Kace. "The deployment of appliances take the legwork out of customers' efforts, allowing them to provision machines without going to each one."

The KBOX 2000 Series technology does not rely on distributed agents, as its sister product the KBOX IT Management Suite does, and instead uses technologies such as PXE boot. The appliances also use methods such as application and file slipstreaming, which eliminates the need for distributed agents. Desktops utilize preboot execution environment (PXE) firmware, which is standard as part of the BIOS or the option ROM on the network interface card. The communication mechanism with client desktops includes PXE, which uses the DHCP and Trivial FTP standards to deliver an IP address and bootstrap from network servers to a client.

"We leverage a PXE boot from the KBOX by loading a mini operating system into the RAM," Parobek explains. "We don't need an agent on the managed node because we can lay an image on the hard disk or do a scripted installation on the hard disk."

Kace competes with the likes of Altiris, LANDesk, PowerQuest and Symantec Ghost with its imaging products.

Pricing for KBOX 2000 Series Systems Deployment Appliances starts at about US$13,000 for 100 nodes and about US$35,000 for 1,000 managed nodes. The company expects the appliances to ship by month's end.

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