Action1: Manage endpoints from the cloud

Action1 is a cloud-based software solution that enables management of your endpoints with capabilities including installing/uninstalling software, providing software/hardware inventory, patch management, and configuration management.

In this review of new features released in the latest version of Action1, we will take a closer look at some new capabilities and enhancements. These include software inventory, uninstalling software in bulk, running scripts and commands in bulk, and more.

Requirements and considerations ^

There are relatively few requirements for running Action1 in your environment. Basically, you need a Windows host, a browser, and connectivity to the Action1 cloud. In addition to these basic requirements, the Action1 software that you need to install locally comprises:

  • Action1 Connector
  • Action1 Agent
  • Egress connectivity to action1.com:22543

The Connector is the on-premises "management" component that enables you to connect your network with the Action1 cloud. While it is not required, the connector scans your network automatically to discover endpoints that can be managed using Action1. The Connector can then deploy the endpoint agent on any discovered nodes in your network for management purposes.

The agent software is used on each managed node to interact with the endpoint and perform discovery and inventory of apps; it also runs scripts on the endpoint. This is a required installation on any endpoint that you wish to manage with Action1. At this time, Action1 only supports Windows for the Connector and the Agent.

Another requirement is that you need to ensure you have egress connectivity enabled for port 22543 to the Action1 cloud. If you filter outbound traffic, you will need to account for this in provisioning the solution. However, the great thing about the Action1 solution is that clients can be managed from any network with the agent installed and network connectivity allowed to the Action1 cloud. This means that remote employees or those working from public or other remote networks can still be managed by Action1.

New features ^

There have recently been several major enhancements and feature additions to Action1 that serve to greatly expand its functionality regarding discovery and interacting with managed endpoints. These include:

Software inventory – The software inventory module scans your endpoints and determines which products and versions are installed across all endpoints. Notably, you get very detailed information as part of the software inventory feature, including:

  • Unused software licenses
  • Instant messenger and chat applications
  • Startup programs
  • Web browsers
  • Cloud storage applications
  • Windows services list
  • Installed software
  • Installed Windows drivers
  • Running processes

When you navigate to Reports & Alerts > Reports > IT Asset Management > Software Inventory, you will see the numerous reports you can run to display and document the relevant software information.

Manage software inventory as part of your asset management across your environment

Manage software inventory as part of your asset management across your environment

Install/uninstall software – This can be done on multiple endpoints in bulk from the Action1 App Store. There are a number of predefined packages in the Action1 App Store, and more apps are coming soon. Organizations can add their own packages as well.

Software inventory is an extremely important part of managing endpoints in your environment. Action1 makes this easy with the Installed Apps dashboard. The Action1 agent queries the installed software on the endpoint and reports this to your cloud dashboard. You can easily perform actions on returned software in bulk, such as an uninstall operation.

Perform actions on installed apps in bulk, such as uninstalling

Perform actions on installed apps in bulk, such as uninstalling

Action1 contains a catalog of third-party applications that you will find available for installation under the App Store. The App Store in Action1 is continually growing, with new third-party apps added regularly. You can also add your own apps to the App Store so custom applications can be deployed to your endpoints from the cloud.

Install apps from the Action1 App Store

Install apps from the Action1 App Store

Reboot computers, run PowerShell and cmd scripts in bulk – Perform scheduled scripting on your systems by running PowerShell and other types of cmd scripts on multiple remote endpoints at once. Scripts are a great way to perform configuration management, control configuration drift, and handle other management actions on your endpoints.

As you can see below, the Managed Endpoints dashboard provides a context menu for any endpoint that enables you to reboot, run PowerShell, run commands, deploy apps, uninstall apps, or uninstall agents.

With managed endpoints, you can run PowerShell and other commands

With managed endpoints, you can run PowerShell and other commands

Efficiency and streamlined operations ^

There are several really great built-in features in Action1 that happen "under the hood." These help to improve the efficiency of the cloud-based delivery of applications and management. They also enable Action1 to gracefully deal with offline endpoints.

When packages are installed, especially in bulk, a smart download algorithm is used. For example, if 100 endpoint agents download a very large package, every agent downloads only a portion of the package. The agents then exchange the downloaded portions with each other. This drastically reduces the amount of Internet bandwidth consumed on app installation.

How does Action1 deal with endpoints that may be offline? Even if an endpoint is off when an installation or script is run, the server will pass the installation/script task to the endpoint when it connects to the Action1 server later. In this way, IT admins can be assured that the required updates or script configurations will make it to all endpoints regardless of their power state at the time of the action.

Conclusion ^

I really like the way in which Action1 is architected to work with your environment. It was really easy to get set up with the cloud dashboard and get a connector machine up and running. The new features added recently, such as the software inventory functionality, are great new capabilities in the Action1 offering.

The cloud architecture enables endpoints to be connected from any network and still be managed. This is a challenge with on-premise endpoint management solutions. A limiting factor with Action1 is the lack of Linux support. However, if you are mostly a Windows shop and are looking for a cloud-based endpoint management solution, Action1 provides great features.

Check out Action1 for a fully functional 15-day trial version. A free version is also available with some limitations.

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