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"@Tobias - thanks for the comments - we probably didn't spell it out clearly enough in the last sentence of the "What MDT and WDS bring to the Table" section, but we agree - ZTI and other user-driven methods DO require System Center." Read more
by Nathaniel Bauer on The Sometimes Confusing Relationship Between WDS and MDT

"Good post sir." Read more
by Jeff Stokes on So Which Is It - ImageX or DISM?

"I think you made a mistake here. MDT does not support ZTI or ZeroTouch installations. Only LiteTouch. For a ZTI SCCM is required, but still you can manage to run the installation with at least one single click - so almost totally automated. But still ..." Read more
by Tobias on The Sometimes Confusing Relationship Between WDS and MDT



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Microsoft vs. Dell in Systems Mgmt Equals Better Solutions

Posted by: Nathaniel Bauer on 11/19/2012
Let's admit it - it's fun to see the big boys go toe-to-toe. Samsung throws down with Apple and we all laugh. But often the results of these titan battles mean a better product for the consumer.

Microsoft and Dell competing for systems management superiority is no different. With Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and the Dell KACE Management Appliance, both vendors are offering better tools and better value than ever before. Now, the challenge for administrators is determining which of these tools is best for them.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief overview of benefits for both lifecycle suites. Each boasts a robust feature set and offers an array of unique values for administrators. Below you’ll find a few examples of what sets these tools apart from the competition.  

Why use SCCM?
On the surface, it might seem that Microsoft’s SCCM has a major drawback since it does not work well with non-Windows platforms. For example, it doesn’t provide automatic discovery or support of software distribution of non-Windows clients, and it can’t provision Macintosh or UNIX systems.

Although some functions aren’t native to the system, there is a very long list of third-party applications that can be used to customize the tools to suit your needs. These applications add to an already large feature set, and give SCCM unparalleled customization possibilities.

In addition, a wide range of platforms can be added to the base SCCM to make its feature set even more robust. For example, SCCM does not natively run vulnerability scans, but it can with the installation of its System Center Endpoint Protection Manager.

Another key feature is that SCCM is heavily integrated with Active Directory. The seamless connection dramatically improves an IT department’s ability to manage user accounts and enhance software deployment processes.

SCCM charges per-client/node, and is available per-user or per-operating system, which will help keep costs low for small businesses. At the same time, the tool is designed to handle up to 300,000 nodes, meaning it’s equipped to support large organizations.

Why use KACE?
If you want a systems management suite that natively works well with non-Windows platforms, then Dell KACE might be the best option. KACE provides automatic discovery of non-x86 systems, such as routers, switches, handhelds, and Macs. It also includes features that ensure all installed applications are approved and appropriate. The downside is that you have to purchase the physical appliance.

While it does not provision UNIX systems, it can remotely provision Windows and Macintosh platforms onto bare metal without an agent, and it also features software distribution features for Windows, Mac, and Linux clients.

Dell KACE offers security and patch management for Windows and Mac clients. This includes vulnerability scans that automatically fix any identified problems. KACE also enforces password policies, and it protects the network by automatically quarantining systems that are out of compliance.

Today, almost all system management solutions automate their processes to ease routine tasks, but KACE goes a step further. It includes wizards to help with the creation of custom scripts, and it includes end-to-end service desk automation for ticket generation and problem tracking. Plus, IT personnel can access KACE functionality via a Web console. These features will greatly reduce IT headaches surrounding everyday tasks.

Dell’s base-pricing structure is based on 100 nodes, with a small fee for additional nodes, making it friendly for small and midsized businesses.

Why we care?
Even with as brief as these summaries are, it's evident that both solutions have plenty of value. And as the competition continues to grow, and the consumer demands more, hopefully the competition will continue to yield higher quality products.

Regardless of which one meets your needs, you still need to manually managing drivers for deployment disparate hardware.

If only there was a solution to automate driver management for SCCM or Kace...

Any other pro's or con's that you can list from SCCM vs. KACE?
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