Novell's ZENworks

* Novell's ZENworks for Desktops leaves a good impression

Desktop management tools are an important way for network managers to cut costs, so we took nine products and gave them the once over. Let's start with the most impressive of the bunch, Novell's ZENworks for Desktops.

  ZENworks has the most complete set of tools to manage desktop configurations of the products we tested. Using a policy-based approach, ZENworks lets an administrator configure every aspect of a user's desktop. For applications managed through the Novell Application Launcher, you can even control how that application runs - either locally or using a terminal services session. ZENworks includes a complete workstation imaging capability that takes a snapshot of a user's hard drive at a specific time, so you can completely restore that image over the network.

Novell's ZENworks for Handhelds adds a number of features to the ZENworks product specifically for managing handhelds. The current release supports Palm, Windows CE and Pocket PC devices. Features include hardware/software inventory, software and content distribution, configuration and security management, and file retrieval. Specific disconnected functionality consists of checkpoint restart and delta capabilities to minimize the amount of time needed to distribute updates and make backups of handheld files.

Novell's ZENworks for Desktops correctly recognized the various versions and service packs of Microsoft Office as well as the different operating system configurations on the network

Novell's ZENworks supports the standard software distribution methods and adds another dimension with its Novell Application Launcher technology. This feature makes it possible to have dynamically delivered applications that run locally or on a server using terminal services, depending on a number of predetermined criteria. We love this feature because it gives administrators a wealth of flexibility in deciding how they will distribute and deliver their applications.

Novell's ZENworks remote control feature includes all the functionality found in the other products, but seemed somewhat sluggish on our test systems. While the feature worked as advertised, it was noticeably slower than the other products in bringing up new windows and in tracking mouse movement.

When it comes to software installation, you have to go through multiple steps to install the software, configure the database, enable the right policies and finally install client software before you see any results.

Loading the client software on a host of workstations could be a tall order if it required a visit to every workstation. All the products we tested support some sort of installation over a network, typically through a shared directory on a server.

Novell's ZENworks has a minimum requirement for the client. For Windows 2000 clients you must have Service Pack 2 installed, along with Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher. ZENworks 4.0 is the first version of the product that does not require a NetWare server to function properly. Installing the product in a Windows-only environment is possible, but takes some work. ZENworks 4.0 requires that you have Novell eDirectory for Windows installed and running at least on the server that will host the ZENworks components.

For the full report, go to http://www.nwfusion.com/reviews/2003/0210bg.html

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