ZENworks Configuration Manager, now in beta, is Novell’s “next big thing” for desktop management. I mean Windows desktop management.
If your organization wants to take Novell’s advice to rip out all of you Windows XP systems and replace them with SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), you’ll still need a separate installation of ZENworks Linux Management. At least until the end of the year. And if you use Macs, well…you can inventory these devices, but management capability is still “something we think about.” This doesn’t mean I think ZENworks Configuration Manager looks like a bad next step for Novell. It just means that there is a lot of marketing hype surrounding the next version of what is basically a 10-year-old product. I got a chance to attend an advanced level tutorial of Novell ZENworks Configuration Manager, which was announced at CeBIT on March 15, 2007. Previously code-named “Pulsar,” ZENworks Configuration uses Novell’s eDirectory or Microsoft’s Active Directory to deploy OS images, deliver applications and patches to managed devices. Aside from the surprising lack of support for Novell’s SLED OS, there are some useful improvements that we saw in the beta demonstration. There is now a unified agent called the Adaptive Agent. Gone are any NetWare requirements including Client32, eDirectory, iMnager and ConsoleOne. And all desktop, server and handheld management will now occur in a single console called the ZENworks Control Center and now a single database. The Adaptive Agent is really seems like a stub that then then downloads the required code to execute the required functionality an old concept in the desktop management arena. It’s a good approach if the agent stays relatively small on the managed device. We’ll be looking at agent size and how much processor load it places on the system when we get ZENworks Configuraiton Manager in and test it on our (Windows) desktop systems.