What is our primary use case?
We use all of the SMA's functionality. We use it for inventory and for asset management. We don't really do file distribution because we use Desktop Authority Management Suite for that. We heavily use the scripting and we deploy updates using the security within. We also heavily use the support help desk section and the reporting.
We're on a legacy on-premises deployment. We're hoping to move to a cloud version in the not too distant future, but that's not on the schedule currently. Our on-premises KACE solution is a dedicated KACE SMA Appliance that was purchased from them. I don't even know if you can purchase that anymore, but it's kicking.
How has it helped my organization?
When it comes to the reporting for finance, it definitely helps a lot because we just run a report. It saves hours of trying to export workstation numbers out of Active Directory, and then create the Excel spreadsheets. With KACE you just run a report. I look at a couple things and, if the fields are blank I look at that, and it saves hours of time between me and finance.
It also provides us with a single pane of glass with everything we need for endpoint management of all devices. It's excellent. It enables us to analyze if there's a problematic piece of software and to upgrade it. I've even done custom fields within the software section so that it grabs the boot order from the BIOS, for example. That way, anybody needing to re-image a device can look and make sure that the boot order is correct in order for them to network-image the device. The inventory section is utilized by everyone who supports anything in IT.
It provides us with IT asset management, compliance, software asset management, and patch management. We don't use it for mobile device management. That combination of uses definitely makes it easier. For updating and configuring everything the way we need it in our environment, it's integral. It makes those processes really easy, for sure.
What is most valuable?
The help desk, first and foremost is the reason that we went to it, as well as the asset management. We have meta-reports for that, reports that we send to finance on the assets and where they are, throughout the organization. I would say those are the two big ones for the organization. We have 600 employees across the organization and everybody uses the help desk, at least.
On a personal level, the scripting and the reporting are extremely valuable to me as a systems administrator. When people are asking me questions about what devices are in management, or what devices have a certain version of a certain piece of software installed, it's super-easy for me to jump into the SQL reporting, send them the information, and have confidence that it's got some good information for them to utilize around the decisions that they're making.
The scripting and the software distribution make my life a lot easier too, because if, all of a sudden, Adobe has a vulnerability and we need to do a security patch, it makes it super-easy to do something like that, to update everything in our organization, all in one shot.
It's very easy to use. We've just been asked to create three new queues, because smaller departments within bigger departments want to use this product, due to its ease of use.
And the Systems Deployment Appliance is magical when it comes to automating deployment. Before we had KACE, we had a replication machine that would hold the master hard drive and five other hard drives, and we would manually image machines. With the deployment of KACE our lives are so much easier. Not only can we have multiple images, specific to end-users' uses, but we have a plethora of post-installation tasks to install or configure the system, tasks that can be re-used for each system. You just have one basic base image, and then you use the post-install tasks to customize everything else. It is amazing. We can send an image to 50 machines in our central operations, remotely. We don't even have to be at the same location.
I also utilize it after each Windows "patch Tuesday." I have a schedule that I have customized so that after each "patch Tuesday" it gets deployed to all of my servers. That way, I'm not manually patching my 100-plus servers. That is another amazing thing that I love about it.
What needs improvement?
I would sure like them to be able to copy and paste out of OneNote. That drives me nuts. You can't copy from OneNote into KACE. I've brought that up many times.
We've just had a major upgrade and I haven't had a chance to dig into things too much, as far as the improvements and the latest upgrades. So I can't really speak to what else might be missing.
There is a great resource for improvements that people would like to see, because Quest hosts a forum in IT Ninja where you can vote for features you'd like. When a lot of people vote on something, they roll it into their next update. There are so many good suggestions about things to add. One that I see right now is a Microsoft Outlook plug-in. There's always room for improvement, but the product that they have right now is so great, already, as it is.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using Quest KACE Systems Management since I started with the company. I also used it at my previous job. The company has had KACE for about eight to 10 years. We started using SMA as a ticketing system six or seven years ago. We've been using it for quite a while and we have 26 queues throughout the organization.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's very stable. In the 10 years, it's been down twice, and it was back up quickly. When we called support they were able to connect to it and it was fixed.
If there are any impacting outages, support is right on it. They're really good about that. I think I got locked out of the SDA for some unknown reason at one point, and support was right on it. I had it back up and going within the hour.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It supports a huge network for us and I would assume that that network has grown exponentially over the time that we've had it. There have been no implications as far as network use. It just works.
We really heavily utilize everything already. Moving to the cloud is probably the only thing that we can do differently, other than implementing the mobile device management or the file distribution. We have other solutions for those things. There isn't really anything else to expand or improve or to utilize within it because we really are using it all.
How are customer service and technical support?
The support is good. Anytime we contact them they're always very helpful. The response time is good and they're knowledgeable.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Active Directory would have been the main solution for asset management. For a ticketing system, we used Track-It!, but it wasn't that good at all.
How was the initial setup?
For the initial setups of service queues, and for setups of users, as well as for mail setup and the different control panel stuff, it's really straightforward. As far as setup of the appliance itself goes, it would be different than what we did because I believe it's mostly cloud-based appliances now, unless you're going specifically for on-premises. I don't even know if they're doing on-premises anymore.
I would guess—because I wasn't here when they stood it up—that we would have had support in setting it up because it is a KACE appliance.
When it comes to maintenance, I'm the only one required. I just did a major appliance upgrade and it may have taken half an hour. My colleague jumped in to make sure I didn't mess up any of her queues and we were good. It was done. It was super-easy.
What was our ROI?
Compared to the tools that I would have to use daily, it saves me hours every day. That is a huge return on investment, in and of itself. I'm sure that would be echoed throughout our company. Obviously, doing the reporting and the updates and all the rest of it, I'm a heavy user. I probably can't even put a number on how many hours are saved, hours that I would otherwise have to spend scripting and distributing some other way that just would not be as streamlined or easy. I script anything that has to be done more than a couple of times. That way, other teams don't have to come to me to ask the question. They don't have to try to manually fidget with things. They just run the script and it's fixed.
If you think of it in terms of time, and how it saves us hours every week, just for me and my colleague, as heavy users, a low estimate would be that it saves us eight hours each a month. That's 16 hours a month just between the two of us and we're just two of 600 people in the organization. That's a lot of money.
Even when it comes to the end-user in our organization who opens up a ticket, there is a difference between what they had to do before, when we used Track-It!, and before that when we used an email group, and what they have to do now. It has saved both the end-user, as well as the technician on the other side, a lot of time. They can respond to a ticket through Outlook. They can go through the ticket itself, they can add screenshots and attachments. It is very versatile for both sides. We're saving a lot of time with that.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing and licensing are good. It's worth it. It's a core software on our system. Every single person uses KACE. Even for asset management, we have KACE Endpoint Management on each one of our devices as well. People use the help desk and we use it to track and deploy things. It's integral.
There are no costs in addition to their standard licensing fees.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We haven't had to evaluate anything else. It works great. We've got good support. The end users like it, the technicians like it. If you're happy with something, why go somewhere else?
What other advice do I have?
They've got really good demos, so someone who is interested in it can watch a demo or use the trial version, and they'll know right away that it's something that they're going to like.
There is also a lot of really great, documented support throughout the IT Ninja community and KACE's own documentation. In both cases, there are all of the resources that a competent systems administrator could ever need to figure out how to do anything within SMA. Or they could ask somebody without even going to KACE's support, and that support, itself, is a whole other line of help.
The biggest lesson I've learned from using it is that it's really easy but its capabilities are totally customizable. There are tons of extra things you can dig in and do, once you get your feet wet. Once you've established yourself within the appliance, there are tons of ways that you can start utilizing it even more, such as the custom fields and the reporting, to save more time and create more efficiencies. It's a great tool for those sorts of things.
It's a great product. We really like using it. There are always improvements that can be made, but unless something doesn't work, everything that I do with it seems to be good.
I would give it a 10 out of 10 because I've never dealt with anything better in terms of the time it saves me and the ease in doing some of the things that I would otherwise have to spend a lot more time doing. I just really appreciate the system. I haven't come up against anything that I can't use it as a solution for, whether it's deploying imaging, managing, upgrading, or reporting. It's a powerhouse for me in my role. For what it offers me, it's a 10.
Which version of this solution are you currently using?