We count servers, workstations, licenses, pour updates and automate IT processes

    At one of the places of work, I somehow came across a situation where one colleague was caught screwing up memory slats from his workstation. He did not deny and immediately said that he took home to test and was going to return. But all the kagbe understood. I do not know about you, but in my memory this was the only time. Perhaps this happens all the time.

    A case came to mind in the course of writing the article. For a long time I was going to talk about special software for collecting all kinds of inventory pieces from the glands - KACE. I have known her for at least a couple of years, and more than once I had to work in practice. Now the stars have come together, thoughts have gathered together and, finally, I am writing how this thing can be useful for offices from several workstations to thousands of IT equipment parks. The thing is simple as felt boots and functional as a microwave with grill and convection, and there has not yet been an extensive article on Habré about it.

    image

    KACE entered the market with its own product of the same name already in 2003 and, as is usually the case with mouth-watering small fish, in 2010 was absorbed by a large fish - Dell. In 2016, a group of investors acquired the Dell software division and is now known as Quest KACE. It comes as a virtual image for VMware or Hyper-V. At the end of the article, a nice bonus in the form of a link to a cloud demo (without registration and SMS).



    KACE is divided into two separate solutions: Systems Management Appliance and Systems Deployment Appliance. The second one is able to cast images of operating systems, but I’ll tell you more about the functionality of the first one. Everything written below will relate specifically to the Systems Management Appliance.

    What can


    Inventory and IT Asset Management


    You can install an agent or collect data remotely. The agent supports popular operating systems, and remote collection of inventory data is possible from any device that can send at least something via SNMP or in another way. There are a bunch of ready-made templates for typical hardware (network devices, storage, switches). I once had the task of monitoring weights in one large grocery network. So, even with such scales, you can optionally take data.



    Cards of inventoried devices can be supplemented with information: production date, vendor support end date, serial number, link to the web-based management interface and other data. And as a result, from an inventory process will turn into an asset management.

    In the KACE interface, you can bind user accounts to workstations or servers and then build reports on account activity. You can control the composition of the group of local administrators and many other similar things, which will be useful for security reports.

    Any devices can be divided into any number of groups and assign labels to them. By groups and labels, you can then build reports or, for example, distribute software or OS updates.

    License management


    I have no information about how often fines are levied in Russia or are judged on the unlawful use of software. Maybe someone in the comments will tell: does it happen that, for example, Microsoft or Oracle impose some sanctions for reusing licenses?



    In any case, if you spend money on software, then you must understand how much it is used and where. Perhaps this will help save the budget for next year and instead of extra licenses to buy employees a tennis table and ottomans.

    For work, it is often necessary to prepare specifications for the purchase of monitoring software, and I know how muddy licensing schemes are: a basic license, coefficients for sockets or processors, dependent licenses and other frantic things. And all this periodically changes. There is a vendor that requires the inclusion of part numbers with media or, more simply, CD discs in the specification. It is clear that nobody will install software from disks today, but there are requirements. Who knows, he will understand what kind of vendor we are talking about.

    KACE has the ability to set arbitrary licensing schemes for any software. He will carefully calculate everything and give you a report. Windows, Office, Oracle, Kaspersky - all you want.

    Parallel to licenses, you can manage contracts. Enter the data on the purchase and monitor the onset of the extension of service support.

    Distribution of patches and software


    You can distribute .msi, .exe, and .zip for Windows; .pkg, .app, .dmg, .zip, .tgz and tar.gz. for Mac; .rpm, .zip; .bin, .tgz, and tar.gz for Linux. Prepare the package for pouring, create a schedule and forget it. If something goes wrong - KACE will report it.

    If the network is distributed and you don’t really want to clog the channels, you can create a remote replication resource from which updates will be distributed on a schedule. Also a useful feature.



    CACE is able to remove unauthorized software on workstations or servers. If desired, you can even change the wallpaper on your desktop. Choose an employee you like and bam - he has interesting wallpapers. All actions can also be observed in the reports.

    Service desk


    A very useful thing for small companies. When the administrator’s strength is not enough to support any OTRS, the built-in ticket system can be the way out. Of course, this is not a replacement for a complete Service Desk system, but for basic needs. Users create an incident themselves, and the ticket can be attached to the inventory data (CMDB), which will simplify the administrator's further diagnostics.



    KACE can automate repetitive processes and create workflows. For example, when a new employee comes out, you can immediately give him access to all the corporate systems necessary for work.

    Basic monitoring


    CPU, memory, thresholds, alerts - that’s all. In the documentation they write about context-sensitive information, that is, in the created incident, you can see both the server configuration and the software installed on it.



    You can add your own metrics and configure thresholds on them. You can notify individual users or groups, with this it is flexible.

    Reporting


    Ask the system how much this or that employee worked this week. You can find out which computers have been around for many years. Ask how many licenses are used from the available pool. Learn how workstation configurations have changed over the past year or month.



    An example of a SQL code for a report on the amount of time worked by a specific user per week (found on itninja.com)
    select U.FULL_NAME AS ATENDENTE, HD_QUEUE.NAME AS FILA,
    SUM(format(time_to_sec(timediff(HD_WORK.STOP,HD_WORK.START))/ 3600.0 + HD_WORK.ADJUSTMENT_HOURS,2)) AS'Horas trabalhadas',
    curdate() as Semana,
    date_sub(curdate(),INTERVAL (dayofweek(curdate())- 2) day) as Segunda,
    date_add(date_sub(curdate(),INTERVAL (dayofweek(curdate())- 2) day), INTERVAL4day) as Sexta
    from HD_TICKET
    LEFTJOINUSER U ON (HD_TICKET.OWNER_ID = U.ID)
    leftjoin HD_WORK ON (HD_TICKET.ID = HD_WORK.HD_TICKET_ID)
    leftjoin HD_QUEUE ON (HD_TICKET.HD_QUEUE_ID = HD_QUEUE.ID),
     (selectdate_sub(curdate(),INTERVAL (dayofweek(curdate())- 2) day) as LUNES,
           date_add(date_sub(curdate(),INTERVAL (dayofweek(curdate())- 2) day), INTERVAL4day) as VIERNES FROM DUAL) H
    WHERE U.ID = 29and
    HD_TICKET.OWNER_ID = U.ID and
    HD_TICKET.ID = HD_WORK.HD_TICKET_ID and
    HD_TICKET.MODIFIED between H.LUNES and H.VIERNES 
    GROUPBY ATENDENTE
    


    Reports are flexibly configured because they are created using the built-in wizard or by querying the KACE database. Any stored data can be used for the report and in any order. Unloading in popular formats, of course, is available.

    What's next


    This post does not pretend to be an exhaustive overview of the features of KACE , but, I hope, will give some idea about it. Or maybe someone will be seriously interested. The cost of licenses depends on the functionality used. There is a free version of KACE Express , which is limited to a thousand devices and can only carry out an inventory. IMHO, to assess the possibilities is quite enough.

    As promised, links to the demo of the admin console and user console .

    Tell us what you use for inventory or rolling distributions? Altiris, SCCM, Landesk or something free?

    The author of the article: Anton KASIMOV , architect of the monitoring systems of the Technoserv company.

    Also popular now: