Dell KACE Debuts SMB System Management Appliance

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Jul 14, 2011


Do you know what's running on your network? Linux-powered appliance provides server and asset management capabilities.

When it comes to understanding and being aware of all the servers, software and clients on a network, knowing what is running is essential to ensure both security and license compliance. A new solution from Dell's KACE division is now bringing system visibility and management down to a new level to make it more accessible for smaller operations.

The Dell KACE M300 Asset Management Appliance family is targeted for management of deployment of between 50 and 200 managed nodes. Dell KACE already has a pair of appliances in the market for larger deployments, including the K1000, which was updated in 2010. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) acquired KACE in February 2010 in an effort to beef up its compliance and systems management offerings.

"Without knowing what's connecting to a network at a given point in time, it's very easy for rogue hardware devices or bandwidth consuming software to be placed on the network without any administrative knowledge," Sendhil Jayachandran, senior product manager at Dell KACE, told InternetNews.com. "With the M300 we dynamically track computers connected to a network as well as every piece of software that is on every machine on the network."

Jayachandran explained that the initial asset discovery can be done without an agent installed on the servers or client PC. He added that to get the full breadth of software monitoring, the M300 requires a lean agent be installed on end-point machines. Jayachandran stressed that the agent is small and efficient, and it does not require much in the way of system resources.

Currently, the M300 tracks wired assets but does not manage wireless devices. It does, however, monitor software on virtualized servers.

The physical M300 appliance includes one Gigabit Ethernet port and a pair of USB ports for connectivity to external backup devices. Jayachandran noted that the device is not intended to be connected to a monitor or an external keyboard.

In terms of what runs under the hood, the M300 takes a different direction from Dell KACE's larger K1000 appliance. The K1000 uses an open source FreeBSD operating system as its base. In contrast, the new M300 uses a Debian Linux operating system.

Today, many small enterprises often just use a spreadsheet to track what software and servers run on a network. Jayachandran noted that it's not too difficult to explain the value proposition of why it makes sense to spend the money on an M300 instead of sticking with the spreadsheet approach.

"People who have been using the spreadsheet approach are aware of the pitfalls, including the time requirements and the headaches of not really knowing what you own," Jayachandran said. "You can alleviate the pain points of asset management with a solution that's at the price point of a laptop, so it's an easy solution to justify."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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