REVIEWER: Carmela Ho, computer systems support technician for Maui County.

BACKGROUND: Encompassing the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lana`i, Maui County is the largest of the five counties in the state of Hawaii. Like Hawaii’s other four counties, Maui County enjoys a fair amount of independence from the state when it comes to governing and education. This, consequently, creates dependence on the county’s IT infrastructure to adequately manage the systems that power important county services for Maui County citizens.

PLATFORMS: We are currently running K1000 v5.0.25766 on VM version ESX 3.5 Update 4.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our Management Information Systems Division serves as the central information technology agency assisting all countywide departments and agencies to achieve specific goals and objectives. Our small division’s IT team manages close to 1,300 PCs, 50 application and network servers, and more than a dozen core applications. Additionally, the team maintains a comprehensive infrastructure of LANs and WANs, which reaches across Maui, Molokai and Lanai, and connects information systems on Oahu and the mainland. Our infrastructure had several challenges due to its complexity and because of its spread across multiple islands. Our biggest desktop management challenges, however, were trying to keep tabs on our inventory and knowing who had what and where. Our previous methods of tracking our IT infrastructure were extremely time and labor intensive.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With our myriad systems management solutions not performing as expected, we switched and deployed the Dell KACE VK1000 Virtual Management Appliance. Today, the service desk plays a key role within our IT infrastructure. It helps our administrators easily configure process-based rules to govern the flow of tickets, and then the tickets are completely customizable, searchable and easy to sort. It also tracks the ongoing process, including reporting changes in ticket status to the appropriate parties. The Dell KACE VK1000 Virtual Management Appliance’s service desk has helped reduce our overall user downtime by $90,000 per year. Additionally, we utilize the appliance’s software distribution capabilities to easily push out software to numerous machines at once. Installation and distribution of any application, service pack, update or digital asset to desktops, servers and predefined filters, can be set to allow almost unlimited control over machine updates. It has saved our team almost 1,000 hours per year on software distribution.

STRENGTHS: The comprehensiveness and exceptional ease of use of the virtual appliance are its biggest strength, and its price point. The quality of technology that we receive with the VK1000 is unbelievable. Also, we didn’t have to purchase additional hardware or software. The product has delivered on all of the appliance’s promises and saves us a tremendous amount of time, money and also space – all three exceptionally important aspects of systems management to us.

WEAKNESSES: The main weaknesses of the product are more minor functionalities than anything else. Functions that would make it easier for our department to browse through the numerous pages of data have always been a sore spot for me. When I’m looking at a list of inventory items, users, assets or software, an actual page button that links to the individual pages of my list would be a real timesaver.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We already had a mature virtualization infrastructure in place running many other virtual appliances; the big plus was the VK1000 offered immediate benefits. Saving space was an important factor to us, and the fact that the VK1000 Virtual Management Appliance didn’t require any additional hardware was significant and yet another leading differentiator from other solutions. After downloading and setting up the virtual appliance to our infrastructure, the appliance began tracking our assets. Most importantly, the appliance proved to be painless and incredibly easy to use. The VK1000 not only offered the best-priced solution for its technology, but it also offered the best value, which has more than proved itself.

DELIVERABLES: As soon as we deployed the VK1000, it began tracking software and hardware assets in 30 minutes. The product offers detailed lists of installed software and versions, the processes running on each system and where each computer is physically located. It was a dream comes true.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We purchased the Dell KACE JumpStart sessions, and this proved to be extremely helpful, as we were able to get the product up and running in no time. This was our first look into the excellent customer service we have come to enjoy since day one. The Dell KACE VK1000 Virtual Management Appliance was deployed in about 8 hours and soon began scanning the more than 1,300 computers on the network within the first 30 minutes. The team has always been really helpful. We like the idea of being able to submit your own ticket, and within a short period of time, someone responds. We also like that we’ve been able to receive assistance over the phone with a support person that walks us through the different steps of a major task.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation provided was exceptionally easy to use and understand. There’s documentation for every step of the way.

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