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ZENworks is not dead, maybe

Oct 07, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Latest Novell ZENworks developments

Dinah Washington sang “What a difference a day makes,” and it’s a song I’m singing right now. If you’d asked me yesterday about the future of ZENworks I would have repeated what I said in this newsletter a few weeks ago – ZENworks is not dead.

I’ll still say that, but the statement may have to undergo surgery to survive, and cosmetic surgery at that.

You may recall that Novell announced at BrainShare Europe that the newly acquired Red Carpet management package – part of the acquisition of Ximian Technologies – would replace the previously announced ZENworks management services in the upcoming Nterprise Linux Services product. At the time, it was explained that using the Ximian product (already running on a Linux platform) was a “better fit” for the intended audience for the new offering.

Not everyone who worked closely on the ZENworks product will be around to sing that tune, though.

Novell has confirmed that Dave Stevenson, vice president and general manager of Novell’s Resource Management Business Unit (where ZENworks “lives”) and Paul Turner, vice president of product management are no longer with the company. Stevenson has been replaced by David Patrick, who was formerly CEO of Ximian. Novell also confirmed that Stevenson and Turner spoke out against the company’s move to replace ZENworks in Nterprise Linux Services with the Ximian product.

After eDirectory, ZENworks is Novell’s most admired product. It has garnered more critical acclaim, from  tech insiders and business pundits, than anything Novell has ever produced. In this space a few weeks ago, I said that we’ll see Red Carpet getting subsumed into ZENworks to create a package that will run on (and manage) Linux, NetWare, Solaris and even Windows – in short, any platform that is supported by eDirectory. To do otherwise would make no sense. I still believe this would be the best thing to do.

Now there are a lot of people I know who are not sorry to see Stevenson hit the road. They blame Stevenson for Novell’s policy of blind revisions (when a patch or file is changed without increasing the version number). We’ll see if that policy changes under Patrick. Certainly the Linux and open source community are almost slavish in their incrementing on version numbers whenever anything (even a mis-spelling) gets changed. That’s something we should encourage.

Turner came to ZENworks from the identity management side. He’s been involved with secure identity management for many years. Prior to Novell he was with CertCo, a New York spin out from Bankers Trust specializing in public-key infrastructure and assurance of transactions in the financial industry. There he co-authored a patent for assured digital certificates and transactions. Those of us who follow identity management know that he will land on his feet.

As to the future of ZENworks, maybe another Dinah Washington title best sums it up: “It’s Too Soon to Know.”