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2/3/2009
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KACE Automates Systems And Security Management In One Appliance

Updating software and installing security patches is tedious work, but it's crucial to keeping your IT systems -- from end-user applications to data centers -- running efficiently and safe. A new integrated management appliance may ease some of the pain.

Updating software and installing security patches is tedious work, but it's crucial to keeping your IT systems -- from end-user applications to data centers -- running efficiently and safe. A new integrated management appliance may ease some of the pain.KACE is vocal about the ROI for its KBOX systems management appliance products. Marty Kacin, co-founder, president and chief technology officer of KACE, said "We just finished our annual survey and found that more than 50% of our customers deployed [our product] in less than a week and reached ROI in the less than 3 months. Buying the KBOX is like hiring someone else to do the work that no one wants to do."

A 90 day return is worth considering for any IT investment, but that figures that Kacin cites are for existing products the not the new appliance KACE unveiled today. The new offering combines the system management automation with security automation -- offered as an upgrade for customers who already have a KBOX product in place.

So in addition to the system policy and upgrade scheduling that the KBOX already offered, the new product can now automate installation of security patches. Again, a necessary and tedious task that creates major liabilities for your business if ignored.

That's particularly true and end-users, more and more, become prime targets for malware and other threats. As KACE senior product manager, Ken Ross said, "Attack vectors are moving to end-user applications -- you can't just patch Windows, you need to cover end-user apps -- particularly those on the browser side that are often leveraged by malware to launch attacks." And it only takes on unpatched system to create a breach. Unfortunately, there's a self inflicted quality to these wounds as, according to a Gartner study, more than 90% of cyber attacks exploit known security flaws for which a remediation is available.

Managing patches was the impetus of integrating security automation. Back to that survey data. According to Lubos Parobek, KACE vice president of product management, patching ranks third on the desired functionality for customers buying management appliances. Here's the ranking:

  1. Hardware and software inventory
  2. Software distribution/updates
  3. Patching
  4. Related inventory asset management

The appliance also handles the increasing proliferation of mobile devices (KACE also offers management software specifically for the iPhone) and distributed workforces with remote replication of software, scripts, and patches so that systems are protected regardless of where they are located.

The value proposition is easy to grasp -- automated systems updates and security patches. And the scheduling interface will be familiar to any Outlook user.

Yet, Parobek maintains you still need a qualified IT professional to user the KBOX. "Typically, when a company gets to 100 employees, when they have 100 systems [desktops, notebooks, etc.], when they hire their first IT person, that when a business is ready for a KBOX. You need to be an IT pro to use it."

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