Intro

While KACE SMA and SDA Appliances can manage devices from any manufacturer, there are certain benefits for customers that are using Dell hardware.  This article will go over those benefits and how to use them.


A link to the PDF of this article can be found here:  Quest KACE and Dell Hardware


KACE System Deployment Appliance (SDA)

The Quest KACE SDA is designed to help system administrators create and deploy images for Windows and Linux systems. Images are stored on the KACE SDA and deployed to endpoints via PXE or USB boot.

Windows Driver Injection

One of the largest challenges in imaging is driver injection into the image. The KACE SDA can inject drivers into any Windows image for any manufacturer.  But for Dell customers, Quest has made this process extremely simple.

In order to inject the proper drivers for each Dell model, SDA administrators can enable the Dell Driver Feed in the Library.

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Enabling Dell Driver Feed

Once the Dell Driver Feed is enabled, the SDA will check for updates.  When the updates are complete, the administrator can select the appropriate models and operating systems from a list.

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Dell Model Selection


 

When the desired models are selected, the administrator will download and install the driver packages for each model.

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Downloading Drivers

By selecting the model and downloading the current driver set, the SDA will not only have the current published drivers for that model, but each night the SDA will check to see if there are updates to those drivers and automatically download any updated drivers.  Dell customers will now have the latest driver packs installed for every model selected, ensuring that during each image deployment the latest drivers are deployed with the operating system.


Dell Command Configure

Dell Command Configure is a free utility published by Dell that allows administrators to create and update BIOS settings on any Dell business class system.  The tool can be downloaded here:

DellCommand Configure Download

A list of supported systems is published by Dell here:

CommandConfigure Supported Systems

When an administrator wants to alter a BIOS setting, they will launch the Command Configure utility and select the settings to change.  This might include setting a BIOS password, changing the boot order of bootable devices, setting power settings, etc. 

Once the administrator has defined which settings to change, they will export those settings changes in an EXE file which can be used to apply the settings to the Dell system.

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Dell Command Configure

The KACE SDA can run those settings within the KACE Boot Environment so that when the computer is deploying the image, the administrator can deploy those settings as part of the image deployment process.  In order to do this, administrators must include the Dell Command Configure option in the boot environment.

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Enabling Command Configure in KACE Boot Environment


 

To add the BIOS setting Package to the image deployment, the administrator will simply create a Mid-Level task in the SDA and call the EXE file that was generated by the Command Configure Utility.

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SDA Mid-Level Task to Change BIOS Settings

The Dell Command Configure utility also provides command line options that can be used if desired. A guide to command line options for CCTK is located here: 


DellCommand Configure Command Line Reference Guide


Administrators that want to use the Command Configure command line to change BIOS settings can create Mid-Level tasks to do so.  For example, if the administrator wanted to enable Wake On Lan for the NIC with a forced PXE boot, the Mid-Level Task might look like this:

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CCTK Command Line Mid-Level Task


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KACE System Management Appliance (SMA)

 

The KACE Systems Management Appliance allows administrators to manage any Windows, Mac, or Linux based device.  Using a background agent, administrators can deploy software, collect hardware and software inventory, or deploy patches and scripts to managed endpoints. KACE SMA does have some unique features available to Dell customers to enhance the management of these devices.

 

Automatic Dell Driver/Firmware Updates

Managing drivers on systems is a huge challenge.  Administrators might have many different models and different operating systems deployed in an environment.  Using the Dell Updates function within the KACE SMA, the deployment of these drivers can be fully automated. The KACE SMA can be configured to detect drivers on Dell systems and compare them to the currently published Dell catalog for that specific model.  Administrators can schedule a detection of driver compliance at any interval desired.  Once a system is scanned, a report can be generated on the compliance of each machine to the current published set of drivers.

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Example Driver Catalog Comparison Report for a Single System

The KACE SMA can be setup to deploy missing drivers on a scheduled basis to ensure that your Dell systems will have the current published driver set. One of the best features of the Dell Updates function is that one schedule can detect and deploy drivers to any Dell model with any supported Windows operating system. 

Administrators do not have to know what models or OSes they have, they can simply set a schedule to update drivers, the KACE agent will detect the model and OS and then ensure that the right drivers for that model and that operating system are deployed.

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Example Schedule to Deploy Dell Drivers

 

Automatic Warranty Retrieval

The KACE SMA provides a detailed hardware and software inventory of every device.  For Dell systems however, the SMA can detect the Dell service tag and automatically gather warranty information for that service tag.  This process is automated and the warranty information is updated nightly.  The KACE SMA can inventory devices with an agent (Windows, Mac, Linux) but can also inventory devices via agentless protocols such as SSH, WinRM, Telnet, etc.  Any device found with a Dell service tag will automatically populate the warranty in the device record.  Administrators can run reports on devices that have warranties that will be expiring in the next 30/60/90 days or any interval needed.

While the KACE SMA can gather warranty information for HP and Lenovo devices (starting in version 9.x), those manufacturers require an API key and a little configuration. Dell warranty retrieval is automated and no configuration is necessary.

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Example Dell Warranty Section

Dell Command Monitor

Dell provides a free utility called Dell Command Monitor that can help administrators gather more detailed information on their Dell systems if desired.  If this is installed on any Dell system (KACE SMA can automate the installation of this tool), the agent will automatically detect the presence of this application and gather extra data in the machine inventory.  Dell Command Monitor can provide not only extra details on hardware, it can also send alerts about issues with the system.   

Dell Command Monitor can be downloaded from Dell here:     DellCommand Monitor Utility

 

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Dell Command Monitor Alert Example

 

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Dell Command Monitor Inventory Data

 

Quest has built in the installer of Dell Command Monitor into a wizard in the SMA.  In order to build the installer, go to Scripts-->Configuration Policies-->Dell Command | Monitor

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Dell Command Monitor Wizard

Note:  The Dell Command Monitor Wizard will download and package the 32 and 64 bit version of Dell Command Monitor version 9.3.0.222.  Version 10 is available on the Dell website but it is not compatible with older systems.

 

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Dell Command Monitor – Managed Install from Wizard

Once the managed install is created by the wizard, you will need to associate the new Dell Command Monitor Software record to all versions of Windows.

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Software Record Associated with All Windows OS

Dell Data Protection – Encryption

The KACE SMA agent will natively detect the disk encryption on a Windows system if the disk is encrypted with either Microsoft Bitlocker or Dell Data Protection.  While the SMA can be configured to look for other disk encryption vendors, Microsoft and Dell are native to the agent.

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Drive Encryption Inventory Data


Dell Command Configure

As mentioned above, Dell Command Configure is a free tool that allows Dell customers to remotely set BIOS settings via an executable file.  The KACE SMA can be configured to deploy these EXE packages to endpoints.  By deploying these BIOS packages, administrators can help secure their environment and prevent any changes to the BIOS that might compromise the system or enable settings that enhance system performance. 

System administrators might want to use the BIOS to wake machines up for patching or software deployments instead of relying on Wake On Lan to power on machines.  The KACE SMA can push out a script with auto power on settings as an example.

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Script to Set BIOS Power On

 

Conclusion

The Quest KACE SMA and SDA Appliances have many features that help administrators manage their devices, from image deployment to inventory management and patching.  Both appliances can manage devices from any manufacturer, but there are added benefits for customers that manage Dell systems which can further streamline the management of these systems.

For more information about Quest KACE, contact your Dell sales representative or your Quest Software Sales representative.