Tactical Advice

Review: ZENworks Configuration Management Extends Its Reach

Suite eases operating system rollouts and software upgrades.
Product Review: ZENworks Configuration Management Extends Its Reach
Novell ZENworks Configuration Management v.11

Novell ZENworks Configuration Management v.11 endpoint configuration management suite can speed the process of providing users with the applications they need to get their jobs done across physical, virtual and cloud environments.

The product comes in handy when a company wants to upgrade desktops from Windows XP to Windows 7, for example, or enforce a particular collection of access control and security policies. The latest version improves integration between the configuration tools and offers more powerful features and better ease of use.

Advantages

ZENworks now boasts a single, unified Windows management agent for all activities, compared with a series of agents that were used in the past. Novell has beefed up security management with additional features, such as the capability to limit access to USB ports or particular peripherals and select allowable Wi-Fi networks. This brings the software up to par with other competing endpoint management tools from makers such as LANDesk and Symantec.

New to v.11: Complete Linux integration, which lets organizations discover and manage Linux endpoints along with other operating systems from a central management console. And enhanced Windows power management support enables organizations to shut down servers or desktops according to certain schedules to reduce energy consumption.

Why It Works for IT

ZENworks can dynamically read user identity information from Active Directory, making it easier to deploy policies across the enterprise without needing to enter individual users one at a time.

Installation is straightforward. The product offers options to control desktop patch management and set up remote control sessions, among others. It can quickly discover devices across particular IP address ranges or from within a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol or Active Directory container, including virtual machine collections that reside on hypervisors.

ZENworks features a browser-based management console, and the management server can be deployed as a VMware ESX-based virtual appliance. Both options make it easier for IT managers to deploy and use the product.

The configuration management tool supports Windows 7 migrations with a full collection of policies that can preserve individual desktop settings, along with automatic imaging. That enables new OS rollouts to happen faster and be less error-prone and disruptive.

IT managers may also use ZENworks to distribute software packages, remotely control individual workstations and collect hardware and software inventories. They can quickly gather reports from the web console to show compliance with various policies and whether particular endpoints are ready to upgrade to a new OS, for example.

Disadvantages

ZENworks doesn't support Windows 8 deployments yet, although agents are available for all versions (including 64-bit machines) back to XP, along with Linux, various thin clients and operating systems. Nor does the product support all web browsers.

The learning curve will be steep for those who haven’t used earlier versions of ZENworks tools because the software can do many different things and has seemingly endless configuration screens.

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About the Author

David Strom

David Strom is the author of two books on computer networking, along with thousands of articles on various IT topics. Follow him on Twitter: @dstrom

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