New Novell tools link Linux, Windows systems

Novell has announced that an upgrade of its ZENworks software will ship on Friday with complete life-cycle management capabilities for Linux systems and support for managing Windows PCs from servers running Linux.

The ZENworks 7 Suite was supposed to be released in the second quarter, according to a road map that Novell provided at its BrainShare user conference in March. Richard Whitehead, Novell's director of product management, said last week that the product was delayed because the company only "ships products that meet customer needs on Day 1."

Richard Kebo, manager of network services at the Clovis Unified School District in Fresno County, California, said he will upgrade to ZENworks 7 as soon as possible, moving from ZENworks 6.5, which he has been running for the past nine months.

The Clovis school system, which has 36,000 students, plans to continue using its 10,000 Windows desktops. But Kebo said he wants to move from Windows servers to Linux-based systems and standardize on a single management tool that can handle both Linux servers and Windows PCs. ZENworks 7 will provide that flexibility, said Kebo, who has been beta-testing the new software since March.

Switching more systems to Linux should increase server stability and security and enable the school district to reduce the number of servers it uses, which now stands at 200, he said. Only a few of the existing servers run Linux.

"We want to minimize our Windows servers," Kebo said. "The Linux servers are always up, and we definitely have had problems with Windows servers. For some reason, the servers would stop and we had to reboot."

The Clovis schools first became a Novell customer a year ago. It installed Novell's eDirectory software after deciding during a competitive evaluation that Microsoft's Active Directory didn't provide "anywhere near" the functionality of the Novell product, Kebo said.

He also was impressed by Novell's Linux direction, which over the past two years has included the release of its NetWare services on the Linux kernel and the acquisition of vendors such as SUSE Linux and Ximian.

The Linux management software that's part of the ZENworks suite is based on Ximian's technology, which previously was called Red Carpet Enterprise. ZENworks 7 adds a variety of features for managing Linux systems, such as a remote administration tool.

Fred Broussard, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts, said the new version enhances Novell's already solid ZENworks offering by increasing the software's ability to manage mixed networks with both Linux and Windows. But more significantly, "it heralds Novell's increasing independence from NetWare," which has been buffeted by a persistent decline in revenue in recent years, he said.

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