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IT pros consider KACE systems management as a service

Dell Software is investing in the cloud, and IT pros weigh in on KACE as a service-based systems management offering.

IT pros who use KACE systems management appliances need to consider a move to SaaS as Dell follows the rest of the tech industry to the cloud.

Dell's cloud-first messages were loud and clear at Dell World 2014 this month with the beta of the Dell Cloud Marketplace, and cloud investments will continue.

However, IT professionals were divided on whether they will move away from KACE on-premises systems management appliances and instead subscribe to systems management as software as a service (SaaS).

The K1000 as a Service was unveiled earlier this year and costs $6.50 per managed computer per month, or $78 per year. The K1000 physical appliance costs $8,900 for 100 computers, or $89 per managed computer, according to Dell's website.

A move depends on customers' environments and how they deploy the service.

"I kind of like the idea of KACE or something like it [in] the cloud," said Ric Getter, programmer/analyst at Portland Community College's Technology Solutions Services group in Portland, Ore. He compared the use of Dell's on-premises appliance with the cloud service.

"We've been held back by how long it takes for the district to [install] new servers," Getter said. "We need to add eight just to get to the next step with our KBOX."

Not everyone is sold on the cloud, however.

"I'm looking at KACE to see if it's a fit for us," said Brett Hulin, network manager at Canal Barge Company Inc. in New Orleans. Canal Barge has only six sites that need to be managed, so the on-premises version makes more sense for them. However, Hulin said, if the KACE appliance could tie into the cloud so that he could manage his sites remotely, it would be of interest to him.

As IT organizations consider Dell's push for cloud-based services, it is no different than vendors such as Microsoft, which also provides a dual offering with its Microsoft Intune cloud-based systems management services and its flagship on-premises System Center Configuration Manager.

"Within the last 12 to 18 months, regardless of KACE, we are seeing more understanding and acceptance of the cloud," said Brandon Jackson, CTO for the Davenport Group, a Dell partner in St. Paul, Minn.

The company has enjoyed strong traction with its on-premises K1000 systems management appliance, but not all businesses will stick with SaaS if they choose that route, according to John Loy, director of engineering at the Davenport Group.

The K1000 starts out with small deployments in the cloud, and then once it is big enough, companies will bring it back as an on-premises solution, Loy said.

Dell Software's success in the cloud hinges on how well it can serve its customers, analysts said.

"It will come down to how fast they can respond to customer need," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc., an IT tech watcher based in San Jose, Calif.

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Would you use KACE on-premises or in the cloud?
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For now I prefer using it on-premises only. Because it is a relatively new technology, I want to see how it plays out with users before putting it to work in the cloud.
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