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Dell KACE upgrade deploys OS upgrades to 250 devices, simultaneously

With Microsoft’s deadline for the end of Windows XP support looming ever larger, Dell’s KACE division launched a new version of its deployment appliance that can upgrade 250 PCs simultaneously.

Version 3.6 of the Dell KACE K2000 deployment appliance adds multicasting, allowing the appliance to rapidly deploy new operating systems and applications. The same image is transferred to multiple clients just once over the network. The appliance itself can manage up to 20,000 nodes, and supports various Microsoft Windows OSes, plus Mac OS as well. 

A new task engine allows the appliance to manage installations that require multiple reboots, allowing buyers of the $4500 appliance to perform “lights-out” operations at off hours. The appliance remains the same; existing customers can also download the 3.6 upgrade for free, Dell said.

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The Dell KACE deployment center provides a snapshot of recent activity.

Although the KACE appliance is aimed more at IT managers than business employees, both groups of people will benefit.

Microsoft has said previously that it will end support for Windows XP this April, after which it will no longer issue updates to the software—should hackers determine a vulnerability in XP after the April deadline, it will never be patched. But sources close to Microsoft have also indicated that its Microsoft Software Removal Tool will remain active until July 2015, and Microsoft has also said that it will update its Microsoft Security Essentials through July 14, 2015 as well. That’s led some to speculate that Microsoft may eventually throw up its hands and push the Windows XP’s end-of-life support date to July 2015 as well.

Until then, however, Dell is busy encouraging users to use its deployment appliance as a stopgap to solve the problem of rapid deployment, whether it be to Windows 8 or Windows 7.

“I know we’ve had a lot more interest” in the product as the XP deadline approaches, said Ken Drachnik, director of product marketing at Dell KACE. “A lot of people are waiting until the last minute to beat the deadline, and we’re approaching that deadline now.” 

Drachnik said that the KACE appliance will typically be used by businesses or schools to rapidly deploy the upgraded OS and dependent applications. But for those companies with distributed devices—such as a nationwide network of Point-of-Sale terminals (POS) running Windows XP, for example—the appliance could be used as well, assuming that those POS terminals are connected, he said. 

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