Novell ZENworks 6.5 Adds Linux, Patch Management - InformationWeek

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Novell ZENworks 6.5 Adds Linux, Patch Management

The Linux management software is formerly Ximian Red Carpet Enterprise, purchased by Novell last summer.

Novell ZENworks 6.5, which adds Novell's ZENworks Linux Management, ZENworks Patch Management, and AdminStudio ZENworks Edition products, to the ZENworks suite, is available today, according to Novell.

ZENworks Linux Management (formerly Ximian Red Carpet Enterprise, purchased by Novell last summer) provides centralized management of Linux server and desktop systems. Thanks to the addition of Linux Management to the ZENworks suite, ZENworks 6.5 can now manage Windows, Novell and Linux systems.

Linux Management works with most of the leading Linux distributions, including SuSE and Red Hat, according to Alan Murray, Director of Product Management and Marketing for Novell Resource Management. "ZENworks Linux Management lets you deploy patches, fixes, apps, et cetera to serves, blades, desktops and laptops," said Murray.

Features of Linux Management include dependency and conflict resolution for software packages, and the ability to take updates from a broad range of public and private sources, including updates from Novell, SUSE LINUX, Red Hat and other third-party solutions.

"The first thing that Linux Management does is analyze the package state and determine the chain of dependencies, and then install it all seamlessly," Murray explained. "This helps avoid 'dependency hell' in updating a Linux system."

The automation, added Murray, also helps free Linux-using organizations from relying on hand-coded scripts or key knowledge residing with specific individuals who may not always be available. "Removing this risk lets you do strategic migrations to Linux."

ZENworks Patch Management lets administrators determine which patches are needed, and their priority, with automatic distribution to ensure systems have the latest patches installed. AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, a special edition of InstallShield's AdminStudio, integrates with ZENworks to automatically create application objects for easy distribution of software packages across the enterprise.

Other new features of ZENworks 6.5 include better inventory capabilities, and improvements for deploying and installing ZENworks in Windows-only environments.

Policy-Driven Management of Heterogeneous Enterprise Environments

"ZENworks is Novell's resource management suite, a collection of products that focus on policy-driven, identity-based management solution," according to Novell's Murray. "The key thrust across all those products is to automate repetitive like change and configuration management.

"We use an identity-based, user-focussed approach to manage each system," Murray added. "We don't just make sure the machine is up and running, but, for user machines, for example, match the system to its end users in applying policies... Policy-based means we're not about reducing administration effort, we're about eliminating it."

"Most organizations have a heterogeneous environment and therefore require a complete systems management solution that supports the entire lifecycle of desktops, servers and handhelds across multiple platforms," stated Fred Broussard, IDC senior analyst. "With the addition of Linux Management, Patch Management and enhanced Windows management, ZENworks 6.5 and its unique, identity-based approach to managing both users and devices as one can meet the needs of customers in managing IT resources."

According to Broussard, Novell and other systems management vendors like Altiris, Computer Associates, LANdesk and Microsoft have begun to offer more patch and configuration management capability for 'Linux on the desktop.' Still needed, Broussard commented, is a nice system management tool to migrate one configuration of Linux desktop to another, or from a Windows desktop to Linux and vice versa."

According to Martin Buckley, Director of Product Management at Novell, ZENworks is in use in sites ranging from several hundred thousand machines down through ones with as few as 50 machines or users "Around fifty is where the value of having automated systems begins to kick in," Buckley noted. (Smaller sites, he notes, may only buy some of the ZENworks modules rather than the full suite.)

For example, Paul Pedron, Senior Network System Specialist for Fresno, California, stated he has been using ZENworks 6.5 for Linux and Solaris machines, along with the Windows and NetWare systems already managed with ZENworks, for tasks including application updates and patches. "We are dealing with 2,200 machines," Pedron reports.

KeyLabs, in a recent comparative test analysis sponsored by Novell, Novell ZENworks 6.5, Altiris Client Management Suite (CMS) 6, LANDesk Management Suite (LDMS) 8, and Microsoft System Management Server (SMS) 2003, "looking specifically from an IT perspective, as to how the new ZENworks product compares," according to Kerry Roberts, Project Lead for the Novell Test Project.

"Each application has various strengths and weaknesses that span the full breadth of the test analysis," according to the KeyLabs report. "No one particular product dominates in quality of implementation or ease of use. Novell ZENworks received a total of 15 'A' rankings, nine of which were for quality of implementation. Altiris scored eleven 'A' rankings, five for quality of implementation; LANDesk rated two and SMS three."

KeyLabs CTO Eric Bowden said, "Novell ZENworks 6.5 received the highest overall grade after a series of test cases that accurately represent real-life scenarios for systems management evaluation. ZENworks 6.5 scored particularly well in software distribution and managed mobility and across all features for quality."

"All four products are fairly robust," KeyLabs' Roberts commented. "They do what they are expected to do." However, he notes, "for enterprise, we found ZenWorks most scalable. We felt it will support growth better than the other products."

Available now, Novell ZENworks 6.5 costs $130 user through Novell channel partners, with a Patch Management subscription available for an additional fee. Customers can also purchase the individual components for Desktop Management, Server Management, Handheld Management and Linux Management.

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