Novell unveils ZENworks for Desktops 3.2

In yet another move to maximize limited bandwidth and speed up the management of distributed desktops, Novell Inc. on Monday released Version 3.2 of its ZENworks for Desktops solution.

Several improvements have been made to ZENworks' imaging tools. The new version offers advanced imaging compression that reduces images of desktop OSes by 40 percent to 60 percent, Novell officials said. Other imaging enhancements let users distribute the images through a single client/server multicast session, thereby accelerating deployment, and compress data over the wire.

Another key feature was ZENworks' new PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment) support. PXE, an Intel Corp. technology, allows desktops to be managed before the desktop OS starts. According to Kelly Wagman, director of product management for Novell's ZENworks division, the PXE support automatically modifies user workstations, thereby simplifying desktop management.

"You're able to send a nontechnical person to somebody's desk, plug in the power cord, and just turn it on," Wagman said. "[The desktop] will automatically deploy the appropriate image, all of your applications, and all of the policies that are associated with that machine. All of that is done automatically from the time that workstation is plugged in."

Still other enhancements include more scalable and customizable thin-client session management; a new policy deployment wizard that automates network moves, adds, and changes; updated inventory scanning tools for WMI (Windows Management Interface) data; and a new interface to simplify administration.

Wagman added that Version 3.2 represents another step in Novell's overall strategy to fully automate desktop management.

"We've completed the story with 3.2," Wagman said. "[The new version] takes all of the functionality that we [already] had, and in the places where we didn't have it, applies the ability to do it in a hands-free manner. It gives you complete hands-free management of the desktop."

Wagman also noted that ZENworks for Desktops 3.2 could be particularly attractive to enterprises with geographically dispersed workforces.

"Obviously, companies that are widely distributed benefit more from the time that they don't have to send an engineer out to resolve desktop conflicts," Wagman said. "The minimization of those costs increases the ROI."

The new version runs on several network OSes, including Novell NetWare, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. The product will be available on Aug. 15 at a cost of US$59 per user license. ZENworks for Desktops 3.2 Preboot Services will also be available for $10 per seat.

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