We are currently using Ghost to reimage computers and it has been working fine for years. We are considering purchasing the KACE 2000 appliance. I need honest feedback if this is a worthwhile investment at this point or is it better to wait for Dell to work out the bugs? It seems like a new product - but something that can be very useful as Dell tweaks it.

I am not putting Dell down in any way as most of our hardware is from Dell - servers, workstations, and enterprise backup devices.

Appreciate any comments - good and bad about the device.

Thank you!
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  • Please don't purchase. For many of the reason below. It is so so so slow and you have to write scripts for everything so you might as well stay with sccm and ghost. We are moving back to SCCM and it work so much faster. There are many other tools better to manage inventory than the k1000. Lansweeper is the best in my opinion. We tried for months to get a refund for ours. Its way more work than they market to you and for the cost.
  • michallwerle, my name is Bob Crosley and I'm the product manager of the K2000. From your comment, I'm not certain if you're speaking of the K1000 or K2000 as you mention the K1000. Have you worked with support to resolve any issues you're having? We don't like to see customers unhappy with our products and I'd be willing to speak more with you about your issues.
  • I used Altiris for the past 9 years and have recently moved into the K1000 and K2000. The user support is pretty awesome and we are fine tuning what we did in Altiris but we are able to image fairly painlessly and relatively quick. There are a lot of changes that we have had to absorb and retraining but I think we made the right decision.

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We purchased our K2000 Appliance about 8 months ago, before switching to KACE we were using Altiris for over 10 years to image our lab computers and a hardware disk cloner for imaging our laptops. When we purchased ours we were were a little concerned if the appliance would handle our image cycle because we reimage close to 1200 machine over a 1 month period in the summer to prepare for our school year. Last August we were considering going back to our old methods of imaging because the appliance could not meet our demands and we contacted support who gave us a workaround that was later released as their Native Imaging Toolkit and this made all the difference and has really sold us on the product. Our biggest complant with the product is the minimal number of example tasks that are included with the product (this is were appdeploy has been helpful).

We have spent a fair amount of time over the last couple months building out our tasks to help take this product to the next level for us, so now we can use the K2000 to build the start of our base image using a scripted install to create a consistant base image across all our different hardware platforms and use post installation tasks to slip the common utilities that chance frequently in during deployment (ie Flash, Java) so our images are more up to date when deployed.

In the 8 months we have been using the K2000 it has been a love/hate relationship but at the end of the day we made the right decision to purchase it and think Dell KACE has a great product that is continuing to improve with ever new release.

Hopefully this helps with your decision, let me know if you have any specific questions if I can I would be glad to answer them.

Jeremy Scribner
Network Support Specialist
Alexandria Technical and Community College
Answered 03/04/2012 by: jrscribner
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Thank you very much! That is very helpful especially since our project is coming up in the next few weeks.

My concern is the learning curve on the device. We have about 1000 machines and will have to reimage about 500 of them in the near future. We won't have a lot of time to learn the device and all of it's nuances. Of course Dell is about to give us a presentation and we all know the device they bring will be so tweaked out and everything will go perfectly. But if we buy the device it won't have all those preinstalled, pre tested jobs.

Some questions I have for someone who already uses the device:

1. does it now multicast?
2. is it a steep learning curve
3. can you do everything with this one device or do you need the k1000 also?
4. can it do a bare metal install
5. if reimaging an existing machine on the domain, does it have the capability to keep the same name and join back to the domain in the same OU?
6. we won't be purchasing any training so this kind of goes with #2, if we don't have much time to learn this product should we just go with the known process?
7. Do you need multiple K2000 boxes to handle computers in various bldgs? If there is a computer lab with only a T1 line to the bldg that houses the K2000, can it push the "image" to 20 computers in the lab? Or if we have 200 computers in another bldg but it is connected with a DS3 line - can the K2000 do this from one box or do we have to purchase another appliance - or is it like SMS and it utilizes distribution points?

Answered 03/04/2012 by: dj
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I remember the day we had our demonstration from our Dell rep, we walked out of the meeting going wow if these products (both the K1000 and K2000) can do everything they say it will this would be a really cool product, so we decided to purchase them. Now to answer your questions:

1. Does it now multicast?

No the device does not multicast and I've asked about multicasting to a couple different Dell people and they tell me the benefits of there K-Image process and never really answer my question.

2. Is it a steep learning curve?

I would say the learning curve is vertical but it does take some time to really understand and take full advantage of the appliance but you can have it doing imaging the same day but will need a good week or more to really understand how it works.

3. Can you do everything with one device or do you need the K1000 also?

The K1000 is not a requirement for system imaging and when we purchased our package we did get both appliances but were primarly interested in the K2000 for imaged, but have since really seen the value of the K1000 for power management and reporting. We worked with our local utility company and received a rebate just for the power management aspect of the K1000 which greatly reduced our TCO of the K1000 and K2000.

4. Can it do a bare metal install?

Yes the appliance is capable of doing either a scripted installation or a system image to a bare metal machine.

5. If reimaging an existing machine on the domain, does it have the capability to keep the same name and join back to the domain in the same OU?

Yes there a a couple of tasks built in that can collect and reassign the computer name and then you would have a post installation task that joins it to the domain in the right OU. (That being said I personally have not used the collect and reassign name tasks we wrote our own script to assign the name based on the Dell Serial Number and a lookup table and now were redoing that to pull the information directly from our K1000, and we only have three OU's that are machines are part of so we only have three different post installation tasks one for each OU.

6. We won't be purchasing any training so this kind of goes with #2, if we don't have much time to learn this product should we just go with the known process?

My understanding is every purchase has Jump Start training built in to the purchase price of the appliance. For us this was a 4 - 2 hour sessions 2 for the K1000 and 2 for the K2000 where the KACE training team works with you one on one with your appliance to get it properly setup and running. For me it was very basic because I had already downloaded and worked with the Trial appliance for a couple weeks prior to getting our actual appliances. We always kept our old imaging methods online in a backup capacity so if we needed them we could resort to them but were able to learn an use the KACE products to complete most of our imaging tasks on time. (There was a small period where some of our team did use our hardware cloning device to image some drives for our laptops when the K2000 wasn't cooperating and I was out of the office on vacation). So if you are looking for something new but are under a tight time crunch having the old method as a backup is a nice insurance card, in the end you won't need that insurance but it's always nice to have in the beginning.

7. Do you need multiple K2000 boxes to handle computers in various bldgs? If there is a computer lab with only a T1 line to the bldg that houses the K2000, can it push the "image" to 20 computers in the lab? Or if we have 200 computers in another bldg but it is connected with a DS3 line - can the K2000 do this from one box or do we have to purchase another appliance - or is it like SMS and it utilizes distribution points?

The K2000 series has what they call Remote Site Appliances (RSA) which is the K2000 software running in a VM environment and can be placed closer to the machines being imaged. The RSA's are no additional cost so you can have as many as you need at your different sites. These RSA's sync your images and installation tasks and then the computer connect to the RSA for imaging. I personally would not suggest imaging 20 computers across a T1 because the process would be incredibly slow use a RSA connected locally where you can get at least a 100 Mbps connection, but a 1 Gig connection at least to the RSA would be better. As for the 200 computers in my experience I would schedule them in batches of no more than 20 - 25 per batch and again have an RSA there to give you the added bandwidth.

If you have not already done so I would suggest going and downloading the trial appliance and using it to do some imaging before Dell arrives that will allow you to see how it works and ask specific questions to test it in our environment we deployed an image using Altiris and then captured it with the K2000 and then were able to work with our images in the K2. I would suggest looking at the Native Imaging Toolkit initially with the number of machines you need to deploy it is a faster way of deploying images in my opinion. The K-Image method is great because of the data dedub functionally but in our environment the performance just isn't there.
Answered 03/05/2012 by: jrscribner
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To make sure that everyone is aware, including our newest customer DJ, please feel free to review our portal for user-driven feature enhancements:

You will see that there is already a request for multicast. You are more than welcome to add your input.

Also, as jrscribner said, ALL purchases come with training, so you can look forward to knowing how to use the product.

Answered 03/05/2012 by: scottlutz
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Honest opinion: Buy it.

We've been using the K2000 for a little over a year, and it has allowed us to go from sending DVDs to end-users and managing that nightmare to allowing users to image machines on the network at remote locations (some with bandwidth as low as 256Kbps). It has been an invaluable part of our IT infrastructure since purchase. We used to have a guy that did nothing but update DVD images, and now he barely touches the K2000 - it just works, and updating an "image" is as simple as changing a single scripted install component... no need to "reseal" an "image" with scripted installs. He can now spend 99% of his time doing other things.

EDIT - and FYI: we have 2500 users with 1800 systems company-wide at 80 locations. We can remotely image everything with a single K2000 and an RSA (Remote Site Appliance) VM at each location.
Answered 03/05/2012 by: airwolf
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The biggest problem I have seen with KACE I have seen is the lack of documentation. While the JumpStart trainers I have worked with knew the K1000 and K2000 very well, when I asked them if there was some sort of written training documentation or curriculum, the answer was no. The Jumpstart trainers also told us about some best practices but without documentation, it is hard to remember and figure out how they will apply to your environment. One nice thing that they did with our K2000 training that we did not get with our K1000 was a copy of the WebEx session. Going back and re-watching the training session is disjointed and there is no way to search other than, “I think we talked about this about half-way through the session,” but at least you have a way of going back over the material.

The Administration manual is okay as a reference, but there is very little task-based documentation. You might know that something is possible, but there is some guesswork in putting what the admin guide does tell you into something useful. There is some pretty good task-based documentation in the KACE knowledge base, but I have noticed that this material does not get merged back into the Administration manuals.

One of my colleagues went to offsite training at the KACE Konference and noted that it was disorganized at best. He did learn something, but it had more to do with talking to others than the presentations.
Answered 03/05/2012 by: Tolstoy
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Thanks to all for you replies. Everything has been very helpful.

It seems like it's still a relatively new device which is what scares me. I don't want to be banging my head against the wall trying to find good documentation. Especially on things that are easily done through Ghost or Altiris. For example about 5 years ago we purchased a couple of Dell thin clients (don't have the model) but we received them with absolutely no instructions on how to get them installed and on the network. Of course we called Dell tech support - guess what - they didn't even know that they sold them!! I am not joking. I know it's just a tier1 help desk but he couldn't find anything about thin clients. We never got any support and these devices are still sitting in the box. We called our Dell sales rep and he was not able to help us at all. At least it wasn't a huge investment but who wants to waste money?

I think this will be an awesome device somewhere down the line but maybe let Dell (and you hard chargers) figure out all the bugs first and get some good documentation out to the public.

We'll see how it goes as Dell will be making it's presentation to us in a few days and I'm not the one who will make the purchasing decision - I'll be the one doing the work.

One more question about RSA - it was stated that this runs in a VM environment. We don't currently use any VM software - so we'll have to purchase new hardware and VM software for the RSAs. I'm not knowledgeable about VM - will I have to buy beefed up servers or will this run on a simple workstation like an Optiplex 990? I downloaded the little vmware x64 tool and none of our servers passed so I can't run the K2000 trialware without first buying new hardware. This will also have a bearing if we go with the Dell Kace as we'd require RSAs in 9 other sites to make this a feasible solution.

Thank you!
Answered 03/05/2012 by: dj
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We have a Windows server at each of our locations, but it is minimal hardware... They're at 4GB of RAM with 2GB dedicated to the VM. VMware Server is free, so that's what we are running on top of Windows to host the VMs. The K2000 RSA is still 32-bit, so you won't need x64 hardware either. However, I believe the plan is to switch to x64 in a year or two.
Answered 03/06/2012 by: airwolf
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Kace is absolutely a love / hate relationship. I would love to know what they are talking about when they say "Train in hours, deploy in a day" Because that is absolutely not the case.

I am trying not to be negative, but it's hard when we have had so many problems.

The fastest scripted install I can so is about 30 minutes, with an SSD in the desktop and SSD in the RSA. Expect about an hour to do a scripted install per machine with regular HDD.

The fastest K-Image takes about an hour and 30 minutes to complete with regular hdd's.

With 3.4 and KNIT you can use WIM files, my images take about 15 minutes now. If you want speed, WIM and KNIT is the only way to go. However you loose features with an image over a scripted install. Like the driver feed doesn't work.

I would expect it to take a week or 2 of solid training to get it up and running and working like you want it to.

We have had both the K1000 and K2000 for over 2 years and have just now started to really use the k2000. The K2000 is not something you can just look at and figure out in an afternoon or a couple days. You really need to dig into it to really understand how it works.

If you have any more questions feel free to contact me.
Answered 03/06/2012 by: dheinle
Yellow Belt

  • How big are these image files. we ar enot doing scripted installs, just standard image deployment, and i have a 14GB compressed filed that is still taking about an hour. There is a 1GB connection to the server and the the pc, and when we test it, its only getting about 100MB throughput, even though on the switch it has 1GB capability. any idea?
    • First thing to check would be the Settings > Network settings . Auto-negotiate setting and try hard setting it to 1000mbps and see if you get better results.
      Reply back if that doesn't help
    • Are you deploying K-Images or WIM images? Like the OP mentioned, WIM is the way to go for speed. Take a look at this KB and let us know if you still have questions.
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I would agree with dheinle to a certain extent. You can't deploy it in a day and get the most out of it, but true to their word it IS possible to deploy the K1000 and/or K2000 in a day. To get the most out of it, expect to spend a month or two of real in-depth time configuring and tweaking the system. It took me 2 months by myself, but we now have a 100% automated deployment system - we drop ship laptops directly to end-users and send them some instructions. The build is completely automated. Most of the 2 months was spent deploying RSAs (we have 80 of them) and writing custom scripts to pull off 100% automation. We could have been deploying simple builds at one location within a day, but our environment is extremely customized and spread out across three countries. So, it really depends upon your needs as to whether you'll spend a few days, weeks, or possibly months configuring the K2000.

We chose to go with scripted installs. It may be a bit slower per build, and it may take longer to design... but in the end it is MUCH easier to manage. Scripted installs are extremely easy to modify. If you have already have a WIM and you want to deploy it, you could be up and running in 2-3 days with 9 RSAs.
Answered 03/06/2012 by: airwolf
Tenth Degree Black Belt

  • Airwolf, What are you using for your RSA. I tried using Oracle VB, XenServer, etc. I could not sync up the RSA with Oracle the session would freeze after a certain size. I tried with Xenserver and it's not working. I tried with ESX 5.5 but the disk is looking for network drivers. Help Please .
    • I'm no longer a customer, but I am now a Tier 3 Support Engineer for the K1000 product. The K2000 RSA requirements are listed in the Administrator Guide: http://www.kace.com/support/resources/~/media/Files/Support/Documentation/K2000/V35/K2000-AdminGuide-v35.ashx

      I had them previously working with Virtualbox and VMware Server, but that was a few years and versions ago.
      • Ok, Airwolf, i tried VMware player and i was able to open the appliance. I tried to sync my k2000 with the RSA and it's about 60 gigs. I crashed the vmware player. Any Suggestions.
      • I would not suggest VMware Player. Try VMware Server.
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dheinle and airwolf - appreciate the pros and cons - i really like to hear both sides to the story.

Airwolf you sound like a super engineer!! We don't have anyone on our staff like you so I imagine we are going to struggle at first like most people. I honestly don't have the patience for one of these projects right now due to the time constraints - especially since it sounds like we'll probably have to try all ways before we decide on the final path to go down. (scripted vs kimage vs knit?) (plus we have no programmers, scripters) I will dabble with vbscript modifications but nothing very elaborate)

I really do want to believe in this product and make it work for us as we are constantly reimaging machines. I just want to have realistic expectations of the product and what it will take to get to a good place. Especially if the higher authorities hear what can be done - then they will be thinking we should be able to control the shuttle launch after they purchase this for us. If it takes 1 hour/machine and we have 500 machines don't see that being very efficient as we could multicast 10 in about 1 hour with ghost.

I am encouraged that at least two people have replied that in the long run, after you really learn how to utilize it, it is a great device. My concern is that we could get to that place with good documentation - but if we have to figure most of it on our own, we'll probably never get there as more projects will be thrown on our plate and no time will be given to do more research.

Well - at this point we just have to wait and see how the presentation goes.

Appreciate all the feedback as it gives me a better idea of what to bring up with the Dell reps.

(airwolf - thanks for the info about "vmware server" - i'll see if i can download a free copy)
(dheinle - I may take you up on that as I would like to hear more of your experiences with the device)
Answered 03/07/2012 by: dj
Orange Belt

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My school district bought both the k1000\k2000 for the k1000, and got sweet talked into buying the k2000 as well ;) and decide to remove our Altiris, this was "devastating" to most people. I found some techs installing Windows from a disk!! No one knew how to use KACE and no one had any training on it. I didn't even get to see the presentation. To top this off no one had the will or motivation to learn KACE... except for me. Last year I had to teach myself enough in a month to image our own 1200 XP computers during the summer, I managed to pull this off while still doing my normal job, I'm a PC/MAC tech. After a brief hiatus after summer, I started working with imaging windows 7 32 bit, got it good and then, got 64bit up and running. So is it a steep learning curve? maybe? I don't think so. With this community, I was able to teach myself KACE and keep my district, not just afloat, but ahead of schedule in being up to date. I found somethings hard to do and others not so much. The biggest problem I faced wasn't learning KACE, but also XP/Win 7 sysprep at the same time. Yep, my district didn't know what sysprep was until I got here.

My direct supervisor hated KACE, and so did most of our administration after some time, but they weren't the ones using it, and I've slowly been changing their minds. I feel I still got alot I can learn and do with KACE; I'm playing with the k1000 more and experimenting with the user portal at the moment.

I'm going to stop typing now, I got some machines I just imaged waiting on their names.
Answered 03/08/2012 by: Tentacle Master
Fourth Degree Black Belt

  • It sounds like the things your fellow IT staff doesn't know is limiting the success they could be having if they learned to use the tools. In the time I used KACE, I found that the biggest limitation is the imagination of the administrator driving it. It sounds like you have worked through the worst of it and are getting to the better parts of using it. Good luck and stay active on IT Ninja for more help when needed.
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