ZENworks Logs 2 Major Firsts

Mobile management integration and move away from Novell client are welcome shifts in version 4.

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.