Quest KACE Systems Management Review

Easy to use, significant time saving with automated software deployment, good support


What is our primary use case?

We use most of the modules, although the Service Desk is one of the most important ones for us. We, as an IT department, handle a large volume of calls that includes different requests. We tried to make it accessible for all of the different teams within the IT department, not just the Service Desk, but networking servers, admins, and applications. We try to make it so that all of our IT requests come in from a central point, basically.

In addition to that, there are a number of other Service Desk queues or departments outside of IT. Those have been either initiated by us asking if someone needed some way of tracking their own work or issues, or they've come to us and asked for the same thing. 

The second feature that we use most often is device inventory. We have our KACE agent deployed on all of our workstations and servers, and it provides us with reports on the hardware and software inventory for those. The other half of that is that we take that data and report on it for things like accuracy, renewals, and replenishment.

We also rely very heavily on the patching module, which is part of the security module. This feature ensures that our workstations and servers are up-to-date with the latest patches.

I'm also using it for extensive software deployments. For example, a couple of years ago we went from one version of Microsoft Office in our environment to a completely different version, almost exclusively through KACE automated software deployment. This saved us thousands of PC touches.

Also within the domain of software distribution, we use file synchronization and scripting.

I work with two different entities. The first is KACE as a service, which is hosted, and the second one is hosted by my company in our Azure environment.

What is most valuable?

I feel that KACE is pretty easy to use, although that may be coming from the fact that I've been using it for so long. In the Service Desk, it's really easy to clean up a basic queue, and from there, you can get more granular and do a lot more customization if you need to.

For the inventory functionality, the agent requires no configuration except for pointing it to the server.

For software deployment, as long as you've got your installation commands, it pretty much runs on its own. This is the same with patching, where you set up a schedule and then just let it go.

We have seen a return on investment from its ease of use, firstly because the KACE appliance is managed almost entirely by me alone. This means that we don't need to have multiple people working on each individual component. With the reporting that we do, we've been able to find unused or underused software licenses, remove those from the computers, and apply them elsewhere. This meant savings because we didn't have to purchase additional licenses.

KACE was previously owned by Dell and because we have a hook into Dell's warranty database, we're able to use that information to learn about what's in our environment and see what we need to budget for replenishment. This includes replacing computers on a quarterly or yearly basis. That way, we're not just saying "I don't know, we'll throw X number of dollars at it". It's an actual and pretty accurate budget, instead of just estimating it.

It has also saved a lot of time because for example, when we did the Microsoft Office upgrade, our service desk team did not have to touch all of those computers. It just ran automatically. That would have been a very large time investment. We have had it in place for so long that it is difficult for me to estimate how much time it is saving us on a monthly or weekly basis. I have nothing to compare it against.

What needs improvement?

Scalability is my primary concern right now. The first environment that I had it in was about 1,700 devices and things worked pretty well. Now that I'm well over 10,000, even with plenty of resources allocated, I'm running into issues where things aren't working correctly. I'm having to work with support and the answer that I usually get is that we're trying to do too much with KACE. Essentially, I'm overloading it with tasks to perform and as a result, I'm having to split stuff up a lot more into multiple jobs instead of one job. There's no built-in load balancing, I can't have multiple servers, and limitations like that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been running Quest KACE Systems Management in production for seven years, since late 2014.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have KACE deployed on more than 9,000 workstations and approximately 1,300 servers. Scalability is an issue for us at the moment, and I don't know how much our company is going to grow in the future. One of the ways that we grow is through acquisitions. For example, we just acquired a little company that was about 20 people and acquired another one with about six people.

I don't know what's coming down the pipe. I am not sure if there's a company that's about a thousand people, how is that going to affect how I use KACE. I wonder if I'm going to have to scale things back, such as running a script once every other week instead of once a week, or stretching out my patching windows.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'd rate the customer support pretty high. I use them pretty frequently and I have been satisfied with the majority of their answers. I have never been brushed off by them saying, "Oh yeah, it's just this, you've got to do that."

Quest has a Professional Services offering, which is their consulting service. You can use their professional services to have them come out and help you set up your clients, or work with you to do so. Or, if you need a report written that isn't supplied by default and you can write it by yourself, you can contract them to write it for you. We have not used professional services.

The Premium Support that we have gives us access to a technical account manager. It includes monthly touch meetings to ensure that everything is going smoothly. For example, they ask if we need anything else and whether they can help move things along, such as reviewing any open issues that we have.

The biggest value from premier support is the ability to get past the technical support. I don't mean that they're not providing good support but with Premier, I've been able to talk with our technical account manager about more advanced topics. I would consider myself a power user and I do a lot of stuff that's outside the norm. This is not the sort of stuff that you would just set it up and forget about.

I also get information about a lot of different reporting and things like that. Sometimes, I'm interested in the very minute details of how it works, in order to either do the report or ensure that I'm doing something in the correct fashion. With the help of the technical account manager, I have been able to be interactive as an intermediate, or I've actually been able to get on, or have a call with, some of the developers who may have been the ones specifically programming a certain portion of the appliance. I don't see getting those deep answers from somebody further back behind the technical support customer service.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to KACE, we had a piece of software, which is no longer around, called eSMART. It was developed by a company called ASAP, which was acquired by Dell. Dell purchased ASAP, decommissioned their eSMART product, and then wrapped up the functionality of the eSMART product into KACE. This is what led us there.

How was the initial setup?

It wasn't really difficult to set up. When we set ours up initially, there was an option to have somebody from the technical support or training department go over it with you. Once you started setting it up, they would ensure that you understand how to work it.

I can't recall exactly how long it took for the overall deployment, although I don't believe it was a lengthy process. The two biggest parts of the setup were configuring the initial queue for IT, and getting the agents pushed out.

What about the implementation team?

We completed the deployment on our own and I am responsible for performing the updates.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is done on a per device basis, so it's dependent on how many agents you've got installed. When we looked at it, KACE was competitively priced versus other agent-based asset and inventory management solutions.

Where we really get a lot of value is that the product licensing is only based on that. It means that if we implement another IT service, we can use it with no problem and it doesn't cost anything more to put that in there. We can just keep adding to it, so we're basically getting more use for no extra costs. An example is that we have other departments and other kinds of entities within our business, and they are utilizing the service desk functionality for things outside of plain IT support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Early on in the pilot, we evaluated other options. It was around the time that we implemented KACE that we also played with a solution called Spiceworks for system support.

They have a ticketing system, and we tried to make it work, but being about the time that we started looking at KACE, and since KACE had the functionality of a service desk, we didn't really pursue that any further.

What other advice do I have?

I know that Quest has other products, whether they're KACE branded or other brands, but, by and large, those offerings are for systems or services that we already have in place with other vendors.

My advice for anybody who is implementing KACE is not to be afraid to use their technical support. There is also some semi-official support available in external groups. They run a website called ITNinja, and there's a lot of discussion on there from KACE users, about questions that they have, or issues that they have, or wants or reports.

People help out each other. The site is run by Quest, but it is community moderated rather than Quest doing the moderation of the content. Essentially, it's a virtual user group and it has been a big help.

In summary, this is a very good product but there is always room to improve. For what we've used it for, it's been very good, and I hope that it continues to serve us well.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

11
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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