KACE Networks Inc, a company that offers systems management packaged in modest cost Linux-based appliances, is announcing that it will roll out the second version of its systems deployment appliance late next month.
The product, cryptically named the KBOX Series 2000, is not an MP3 player, nor the call letters of an LA hip-hop radio station. Instead, it’s an appliance used for provisioning system images onto new or upgraded PCs. Obviously, the company likes cryptic names.
Among its new features is a way to replicate and modify system images without having to create new ones from scratch. It addresses the problem of how to develop an image for a unit that was procured later and has variations in BIOS, chipsets, or other configuration-related areas.
Normally, you would have to create a new image form scratch with each new variation. Instead, KBOX maintains a configuration database back on the appliance that stores the libraries and the instances (images) in which they are used. So, when it comes time to load a new PC with an adjustment for the BIOS or OS version, you can just alter that part of the image.
KBOX version 2.0 also adds support for Windows Vista, and adds automation of steps that are taken to prepare an image for deployment, and verification steps after the image is burned onto the target machine. In smaller IT shops, these steps were traditionally performed manually.
Finally, KBOX version 2.0 adds Windows PE support for its recovery feature. That’s the feature that is used to boot up a machine that has encountered a blue screen after something get corrupted. It loads a lightweight OS just to get the damaged machine booted, so that the server can get to work and reload the proper image. Previously, KBOX did it with a lightweight Linux stack. In the 2,0 release, they are adding Windows PE, which is a stripped down version of Windows, so you can get the box over the hump.
KACE also offers a systems management version of KBOX, which has modules that perform inventory and asset discovery, software patch management and updating, configuration and policy management, vulnerability assessment, and service desk.
They consider themselves the next generation answer to Altiris (for which Symantec’s acquisition bid is pending), which developed a lower-cost approach to desktop provisioning. KACE has taken that a step further with several features. First, it uses an appliance, which eliminates the need to install software. Secondly, its engine uses the open source LAMP stack, which is far less expensive for customers than having to obtain Microsoft SQL Server licenses for the configuration management database. And, leveraging faster internal LANs, it dispenses with the need for agents on target PCs by pinging them for configuration information.
KACE’s KBOX Series 2000, 2.0, will be released on April 27.