REVIEWER: Chris Blake, workstation administrator for Benchmark Group.

BACKGROUND: Benchmark Group, one of the top 500 architecture and engineering firms in the U.S., is a privately held firm based in Rogers, Arkansas. Founded in 1978, today Benchmark boasts more than 270 staff with 30 years in business and more than 1,000 combined years of design experience. Our company primarily works on large retail and restaurant chains and has completed more than 13,000 projects to date.

PLATFORMS: Benchmark runs an IT environment that is 100 percent HP hardware and Windows XP for the operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: For more than 20 years, our IT support team relied heavily on manual and homegrown methods to keep workstations patched, maintained and updated with software releases and fixes. These manual processes gave us slow “sneakernet” updates that were like reinventing the wheel every time. Automation was the answer, but we needed a solution that could be rolled out without extensive time for training and support. For the past three years, Benchmark has been using the KACE KBOX Systems Management Appliance to deploy software, inventory workstations, handle scripting and security, maintain license compliance and manage helpdesk tickets. This product has saved us hundreds of hours in staff interruption and maintenance downtime. Not only have IT goals been met and ROI far exceeded expectations, but the product has also grown and expanded over time to include many of the tools and features previously provided by other vendors. Building on the trust and reliability of our relationship with KACE, many of these third-party products have been migrated into the KBOX. Managing multiple tools from one interface simplifies systems management for our entire IT team.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using the KBOX Systems Management Appliance, we are able to achieve benefits in a number of areas. The product’s single day installation eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming offsite training, and deployed to hundreds of clients in under an hour. Once installed, we cut user downtime for billable staff, increased the speed of software updates from hours to minutes and reduced issues caused by human error to almost zero.

STRENGTHS: KACE provided a way to automate manual systems management tasks without breaking the bank, putting unwanted overhead on our corporate intranet or forcing our team to invest hundreds of hours in training. The KBOX supplied exceptionally easy implementation, an intuitive interface, reliable results and top-notch technical support staff.

WEAKNESSES: Switching between the KBOX Systems Management Appliance and its sister KBOX Systems Deployment Appliance requires multiple time-consuming sign-ons. Also, the user interfaces for each appliance are kept separate, which can be a hassle when moving quickly between tasks. These issues are being addressed in the latest release of the appliances.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The key features we value in KBOX include: automating patch management and software installation; inventory, automatic filtering and grouping with the ability to take action for enforcement of policies; support; and the ability to push out any software format to clients. Alternative products we investigated had hidden costs in training, add-on products and implementation challenges, such as integration or migration tasks.

DELIVERABLES: The ROI for Benchmark Group with the KBOX was immediate. Our first KBOX-managed application deployment took only 30 minutes to deploy to 200 nodes. From then on, every hour previously lost to software upgrades, patches or fixes was now replaced with productive time for designers and family time for our IT staff. By transferring major upgrades to automated processes with the KBOX, we save an estimated 200 man-hours per upgrade and are able to deploy upgrades to hundreds of nodes at the click of a mouse.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The real beauty of the KBOX is the engineering and support team behind it. KACE is incredibly helpful, and I’ve never worked with a more responsive company. The support offered to customers is above the norm: from day one, KACE promises that if they can’t help you solve the problem, they’ll do it for you themselves.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. Though the KBOX is so easy to set up, I spent more time reading the documentation than installing the product.

KBOX Systems Management Appliance
1616 North Shoreline Boulevard
Suite B
Mountain View, CA 95043
(650) 316-1050

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