ZENworks Logs 2 Major Firsts

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2002-10-21
 
 
 

ZENworks Logs 2 Major Firsts


ZENworks for desktops 4 includes two important firsts for the Novell Inc. PC management software: support for laptops and the end of ZENworks for Desktops reliance on the pesky Novell Client on each managed machine.

eWeek Labs tests showed that ZENworks 4s laptop support, based on Orbiter (which Novell acquired from Callisto Software Inc. in November 2001), was able to restart interrupted software deployments at the point of disruption instead of restarting at the beginning of the file.

Unified support for desktops and laptops in the same interface is an important distinguishing factor from previous versions. The obvious benefits of bringing laptops and desktop systems under the same management package are greater efficiency for IT and a significant reduction in the cost of managing laptop systems. In the past, mobile management products were routinely priced at double or triple the cost of desktop management systems.

Thankfully, separate management schemes are already sinking beneath the waves: Microsoft Corp., for example, has widely heralded mobile management support including the checkpoint/restart feature in the forthcoming Systems Management Server 2003, and it worked as described in our tests of the Beta 1 release (see related story, right). Altiris Inc., maker of eXpress Client Mgmt Suite also provides an integrated tool set to deploy software and manage desktop and laptop configuration according to a centrally controlled set of policies. And in a deal finalized last month, Intel Corp. completed the sale of its LANdesk Management software to a group that has formed a new company called LANdesk Software Inc. LANdesk Mobile Management, one of the last product enhancements while the product was still in Intels hands, added support for laptop systems using an add-on component based on an integration with Xcelle-Net Inc.s Afaria product.

ZENworks for Desktops 4, which started shipping in August, costs $69 per user license—comparable with other PC management systems. Novells eDirectory is also required and is included with ZENworks for Desktops 4 at no additional charge.

We welcome the consolidation of laptop and desktop management—and, soon, handheld devices—under one management rubric. And we are happy to see an end to ZENworks reliance on the Novell Client. However, our tests showed that although the Novell Client is gone in name, at least, its spirit lives on in the ZENworks Management Agent, which communicates with Novells eDirectory to get policies and report job status and inventory.

There are still many times when users will see a separate Novell log-in for eDirectory. Our tests demonstrated that pretty much any user scenario that depends on the Dynamic Local User—for example, a shared PC at a nursing station—will almost certainly have to use the ZENworks for Desktops Management Agent log-in.

Novell does include a new DirXML and password synchronization tool that IT staff can use to minimize the need for additional log-in screens; we hope that Novell will continue to work on ways to minimize the need for separate log-ins.

Before we started the installation of the ZENworks for Desktops components, we needed to install Novells eDirectory on one system in the test network. This was a pain because, although ZENworks can be integrated with LDAP-compliant directories, the eDirectory requirement means yet another information source must be maintained.

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Liked It, Didnt Love It

Of course, Novell is hoping that IT managers will fall in love with eDirectory and want to use it for everything. It is a decent platform for administering the always-complex task of managing heterogeneous systems, but it isnt so compelling that wed want to run it in addition to another directory service. Maintaining a single directory is hard enough without requiring a second one to handle desktop and system management.

In tests, eDirectory and ConsoleOne, Novells administrative interface, proved neither easier nor more difficult to use than Microsofts Management Console or the other user interfaces employed by competing tools. Much is made of "ease of use" among all these products, but IT managers should insist on evaluating products based on functionality and integration. Novell excels in delivering both of these.

We installed ZENworks for Desktops 4 in NetWare 6.0 and Windows 2000 Server environments to conduct our tests. All our client machines were running either Windows 2000 Professional or Windows 98 on a variety of Micron Technology Inc. desktop systems and Toshiba Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. laptop systems. We set up user and workstation policies to distribute a small application to the various desktop and laptop systems.

During the software distribution to an HP Armada m700 laptop, we disconnected the network cable. ZENworks for Desktops was able to gracefully halt the software distribution—in this case, a freeware calculator—and resumed the distribution from the point of interruption when we reconnected to the network.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant is at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.

Executive Summary


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Executive Summary: ZENworks for Desktops 4

Usability Good
Capability Excellent
Performance Good
Interoperability Fair
Manageability Good
Scalability Excellent
Security Good

Desktop and mobile PC management converge neatly in Novells software distribution, inventory and remote control management suite. This means that IT managers can finally standardize on a single PC management platform to provide resources and enforce standard desktop policies, without having to hopscotch from one management platform to another. Look for this phenomenon to continue to spread to other major-league management vendors.

COST ANALYSIS

ZENworks for Desktops 4 brings the sky-high price of managing mobile PCs down to earth by charging the same, much lower, $69 price for both desktop and laptop systems. The real savings will come from obviating redundant systems to accomplish the basic task of keeping systems current and running, regardless of how they connect to the network.

(+) Doesnt rely on the Novell Client on each managed PC; combined desktop and laptop support.

(-) Most features depend on Novells eDirectory, which means one more directory in the network.

EVALUATION SHORT LIST

  • Microsofts Systems Management Server 2003
  • LANdesk Softwares LANdesk
  • Altiris eXpress Client Mgmt Suite
  • www.novell.com/products/zenworks/desktops/

  • Rocket Fuel