Systems management specialist Kace is updating its Kbox family of network appliances with features to assist firms planning a migration to Windows 7, especially those still using Window XP.
The capabilities will come in a software update for Kace's KBox 2000 series Systems Deployment appliances, set for general release at the beginning of December. Existing customers with a maintenance agreement will get the update automatically, according to Kace.
The version 3.1 update will include support for user state migration to preserve user-specific files and settings during an upgrade, plus tools to help customers build a Windows 7 image and deploy it across the network to existing systems.
Kace's products are aimed at small to medium sized companies with up to thousands of PCs, and which are likely to have relatively few IT staff to support operations. The systems are designed to help automate key processes.
The new update should help these customers overcome the hurdles of a looming Windows 7 migration, something likely to prove taxing even at enterprises with a large IT staff, according to Kace chief executive Rob Meinhardt.
"About 83 per cent of businesses are going to skip Vista entirely and migrate straight from XP to Windows 7, but from what we've seen from Microsoft there aren't great tools available for an in-place upgrade from XP," he said.
The trick is how to migrate the operating system to existing machines without losing all the unique settings and configuration, Meinhardt explained.
With the 3.1 software release, the KBox 2000 appliances will have specific features for this, including inventory and systems readiness analysis tools.
These features will also enable Kace customers to perform a Windows 7 migration from a single web-based console without the need for desk-side visits, according to Meinhardt.
The KBox 2000 series complement Kace's other line, the 1000 series of Systems Management appliances designed for asset management, patching and application distribution.
Prices start at £3,200 for the Systems Deployment appliances, while the Systems Management appliances cost from £6,400.
Both lines are available as a hardware solution, or as a virtual appliance that can be deployed on a VMware server. These virtualised versions of the appliances already account for about a quarter of Kace's sales, Meinhardt said.
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