Master of Multiple NOS Management

ZENworks for Servers update with desktop counterpart is powerful, but installation's tedious.

ZENworks for Servers from Novell Inc. has gained support for Windows NT and Windows 2000 servers and is now a tool that IT managers familiar with the time-consuming intricacies of Novell software installation should consider for cross-platform management of critical servers.

When complemented by ZENworks for Desktops 3.0, Version 2.0 of ZENworks for Servers makes a formidable enterprise management alternative to Microsoft Corp.s Systems Management Server for shops running more than one NOS (network operating system). However, neither product will suffice for organizations that use Unix- or Linux-based systems. Managers of these shops should consider products such as BMC Software Inc.s Patrol.

ZENworks for Servers, which started shipping in late October, is $59 per user account or $3,000 per server.

Its Not Easy Being ZEN

During eWeek Labs tests, ZENworks for Servers proved to be a finicky but solid management tool that allowed us to keep track of and distribute software packages to servers. We had to install NDS for Windows NT to incorporate machines that run Microsoft operating systems; as an NDS-based product, ZENworks doesnt work well with Microsofts Active Directory.

Seasoned NetWare administrators wont be surprised by the incredible number of software tweaks and convoluted steps that are necessary to install ZENworks for Servers. These include making sure that current support packs for a number of Novell products are installed.

But Providence preserve those who are upgrading from ZENworks for Servers 1.0 or who have ZENworks for Desktops 3.0 installed. Fortunately, Novell has published a set of booklets that takes the knots out of ensuring the compatibility of these products during the upgrade process. The payoff is worth it, and managers who make it through the process should have confidence that the products will work together in the end.

The product manuals are not on the CD with ZENworks for Servers, however, and a Novell release note gives an incorrect online link to the documentation for the software. After we found the documentation (the correct URL for its location is, we easily got the rest of the product up and running.

In addition to the new support for NT and Windows 2000 systems, Novell has beefed up the centralized monitoring and management capabilities of ZENworks for Servers. We could easily watch over several NetWare and NT or Windows 2000 servers from a single console. This is a significant enhancement over the previous version. The updated ZENworks for Servers also let us set up policies to control when servers are downed for maintenance.

We also used this newly minted capability to quickly set up software distribution jobs for several servers. This should make it easier for managers to roll out NOS patches and applications to fleets of servers, including NT and Windows 2000 systems.

ZENworks for Servers uses Novells TED (Tiered Electronic Distribution) to roll out software to servers and desktop systems. Although TED is not a new addition to the ZENworks family, this is the first time that the server and desktop versions have been integrated. We were able to set up distribution jobs that effectively managed software distribution to the entire test network.