Appliance Deploys OS To Remote PCs. Vista, Anyone? - InformationWeek
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8/1/2008
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John Foley
John Foley
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Appliance Deploys OS To Remote PCs. Vista, Anyone?

KACE, a startup that makes systems management appliances, has come out with a virtual appliance for pushing operating systems to remote offices. But KACE doesn't expect the product to be used much for Windows Vista rollouts. Its data shows Vista demand waning.

KACE, a startup that makes systems management appliances, has come out with a virtual appliance for pushing operating systems to remote offices. But KACE doesn't expect the product to be used much for Windows Vista rollouts. Its data shows Vista demand waning.KACE's KBOX appliances handle management tasks such as software and hardware inventory, software distribution, patch management, alerts, and remote control. The company has just introduced the KBOX Virtual Remote Appliance, which works over a LAN or WAN with one of its physical appliances. As the name implies, the new appliance is intended for use in remote or branch offices, typically those with a dozen employees but no IT staff, and its primary purpose is to provision operating systems to PCs located in those outposts.

It works like this: A PC administrator creates a library of operating system configurations or "images" on a centrally located KBOX appliance, which then creates a duplicate library of those images on the Virtual Remote Appliance. (The virtual appliance is housed on an existing computer in the remote office.) When it comes time to update remote PCs--say a machine gets corrupted or a new PC is being installed for the first time--the OS image is provisioned from the remote appliance. The alternatives are to push the OS images over the WAN, which tends to be slow going, or to send the PC admin to the remote site to do the job manually.

KACE's remote appliance works with Windows or Linux, but the company's recent research suggests that customers won't be using its appliances to push a lot of Windows Vista to users. Its survey, completed by more than 1,100 IT managers, found that 60% had no plans to deploy Windows Vista, 42% would consider alternatives to Vista, and 92% said Vista Service Pack 1 hadn't changed their plans (or lack of them) for Vista rollouts. The 60% with no plans, by the way, is 10% higher than when KACE asked the same question six months earlier.

KACE refers to the trend as "Vista avoidance." Thus, if KACE's new Virtual Remote Appliance proves popular, it will be for distributing Windows XP or some other OS--anything but Windows Vista--to far-flung users.

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