What is our primary use case?
We use it for a lot of things. We use it to deploy software, configure Windows via scripts, and to deploy some certificates for our customers. We are a call center and we have a lot of large companies as clients, so we need to deploy several kinds of software, such as Office 365 and applications from our customers themselves. We use a scripting framework from our consultants and that works great.
KACE SMA is the main software I'm using. I'm responsible for the KACE solution, and if there are any questions related to it, my colleagues come to me.
We have local KACE Appliances with VMware workstations, computers, servers, and we are using OVF files.
How has it helped my organization?
It saves a lot of time because, in the past, before we used KACE, when we installed a new version of a given software, we had to go to each computer individually and install it manually. Now we just set the labels and the software goes by itself. It also saves a lot of money because we have time to do other jobs.
We have seven locations. In the past, if we had to deploy new software or install user PCs, we had to drive with a large number of people to get the work done quickly. Now, we can deploy the software from one desktop. One person can do it and that saves a lot of time. It makes a lot of things easier. It has had a huge impact.
Another example of a benefit is that I developed a script because my CEO wanted to know how many computers are connected to our home office network from the outside. Every hour I run the script to import the information to an external SQL Server Express with a report engine. With the KACE, you can use information for other reports.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the software deployment. That's the main thing we use, daily, all day long.
It's also very intuitive and easy to handle. It's clearly structured. For example, we are still using Microsoft Intune as our MDM software. With Intune, you get lost very quickly, but with KACE SMA, it's clearly structured and easy to understand.
We handle our local computers within the company with it. We handle our home-office computers as well. We have about 3,000 computers in SMA and, currently, about 1,200 computers are in our home office with it. Everything goes, everything's possible, without problems. We couldn't ask for more. We are able to manage all of the devices in the solution's single pane of glass. We see our computers there.
It also does patch management. At the moment, I'm rolling out a new feature update, 20.8.2, and it's a great challenge because we have to deploy it to 1,200 computers in the home office. We want to do it without interrupting production, but KACE is reliable and it's easy to adapt it to my needs for how and when to deploy the feature update.
Another feature we use is the Systems Deployment Appliance. If we install new computers, we run a script within the SDA at the end of the installation and that installs the required software for the computer, depending on which department it is part of. "Customer A" needs this set of software and we have a system image for it. And for "Customer B" we have another image with other software. We just have to start the computer, choose the required image, and everything is done automatically. There is no need to configure it. We just deploy Windows and, when that's done, shut it down, bring it to the location, connect it, and it works. Some software needs some manual configuration because it's not scriptable, but about 95 percent is automated.
What needs improvement?
KACE.uservoice.com is a platform where users can post suggestions for improving the software. A lot of ideas that have ended up in the development of KACE have come from this. For example, in version 10.2 KACE implemented the possibility of reducing the network speed of the KACE agent. You can set it so that it takes whatever network speed you want or you can set it to 5 Mb, to save network speed. You set it for all the computers, but it would be preferable to separate between VPN connections in our home office and the local area. It would be great to be able to set separate speeds for different VLANs. I posted this idea on Uservoice.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using Quest KACE Systems Management for five or six years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There have been no problems. It has never crashed. If I hadn't had to update it, it would just run.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scaling it is easy. Last year I increased the memory because we got a lot of new computers in our company and we added some new locations. I saw it was getting a little bit slower, but I added some more memory and it was easy to scale. If you need more RAM or more CPUs, just add them and the KACE will say, "Okay, I'll take them."
Currently, we don't have plans to increase our usage.
How are customer service and technical support?
We use their standard technical support and our experience with them has been great. Every time I have asked them something it has been perfect. I get quick answers, especially from one of the Quest technicians in Cologne, Germany.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Before I came to the IT department, we used software from CA. It was a pain. But we switched because of the price. Also, the support wasn't that good from CA, as far as I remember. That was before my time. I moved to my current position after we shut down the CA software deployment.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is very easy. Before we upgraded to the current version—from 10.2 to 11.0—I tried it here on my local virtual machine. It took about five minutes and the SMA was running. That was how long it took from starting the virtual machine until the moment I got to the login screen. The information from Quest itself in the support area of their webpage, and on YouTube, is very effective and informative. It's easy.
It takes a little more configuration after logging in, because you have to deploy the KACE agent and create a token. To get everything working, the grids, the configuration, with Active Directory, it might take about half a day until you can say, "Okay, the KACE is working. I've downloaded the test catalog. The KACE agent is deploying on the computers and the computers are coming into the database."
My team consists of three people, including me. One person is mainly taking care of the software installations. He's looking at whether there are any new versions. I am taking care of the feature updates and software deployment, and the third person is my apprentice.
Users of SMA in our company include our service desk, our client and service first-level support. A total of about 20 people from our IT department.
What about the implementation team?
The initial setup was done with our consultant, Stephan Sporrer, from OFF LIMITS IT. At that time it took five days, but at that time we also scripted all the software installations we have. He also taught us how to use it.
Setup took longer the first time because he had to teach us the whole system. Now, if I had to set up a whole new environment, it would take half a day because I know how it works.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing and licensing are absolutely fair.
As far as I know there are no other costs that come with using it. It's just the licenses for the KACE based on the number of computers. Our VMware servers already existed, so there were no other costs for us.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
In the future, we are looking at implementing a proof of concept for the KACE MDM, so our iPhones would be manageable with KACE SMA as well. Quest MDM is very intuitive and easy to handle. There is no comparison to Intune. If you don't work with Intune eight hours a day, every day, you get lost. In the KACE product, it's simple and easy. It's very easy for me to train new colleagues to use the KACE MDM, SMA, and SDA.
KACE MDM is also much cheaper than Intune. I calculated the savings with KACE MDM over a three-year period and they came to about €25,000, just on the licenses. That's a lot of money. And the time saved can't be measured. In the next month there will be more work with it because we have to upgrade all our iPhones. After that it will be easier because we can automate a lot of things with the policies, with restrictions and packages within the KACE MDM. When a new phone comes in we will bring it into the MDM, and the software will be automatically deployed. This will save a lot of time because Intune requires you to do a lot more steps. It's too complex for us.
We didn't evaluate any options other than KACE. The supplier of all our computers suggested KACE and that's how we came to it.
What other advice do I have?
The biggest lesson I have learned from using KACE SMA is to never deploy software to many computers at one time. A few times in the past I killed the network with it. It's not good if you deploy a new Office 365 installation to about 700 computers at one time.
We're running Salesforce, which is older than the KACE, as our ticketing system. Because that ticketing system already exists, our CEO doesn't want to change it. They're planning to connect Salesforce with the SMA to grab the information from the computers. That way, my colleagues at the service desk will just have to type in the computer to see all the information that is stored in the KACE SMA. That's something that is currently planned but not implemented yet.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?