Novell debuts ZENworks for Linux

Novell on Friday at the Cebit show took the wraps off its Linux-based management system, emphasizing its lifecycle management capabilities, which are intended to lower the overall costs of an IT operation.

Version 7.0 of ZENworks Linux Management, which works with both Suse Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating systems, features new imaging, configuration lockdown, remote management, inventory, and software management capabilities. Novell has integrated the product's management features in with its Novell Linux Desktop and Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 products.

Company officials claim that Version 7.0 is the only product to use policy-driven automation to deploy and manage Linux-based resources centrally, regardless of where they reside on the network.

"Rather than focusing on just patch updates and software distributions, we are trying to bring full lifecycle management to the Linux platform so we can also do things like bare metal provisioning, asset management, and inventorying. This lowers the cost, risk, and complexity for desktops," said Martin Buckley, product manager at ZenWorks.

Some industry observers believe Novell is heading in the right direction with the lifecycle management approach with the product.

"Users need integrated tools that automate Linux system management. Novell is trying to change Linux management through policy-driven automation as a way to reduce management costs as well as hoping to accelerate the adoption of Linux higher up in the enterprise," said Fred Broussard, a research manager at IDC.

Policy-driven automation essentially allows administrators to define their business processes and policies just once and then have them automatically applied to the appropriate devices or entire groups of devices, Buckley explained.

Another new capability allows IT workers to use Web-based administration through the product's Control Center, which is a task-oriented management console for deploying, managing, and maintaining Linux systems from a single location.

A new remote control feature helps cut down on the typical number of required technician visits to remote locations, a company spokesman said. The remote control feature is run by the open-source-based VNC (Virtual Network Computing) client, which Novell has directory-enabled using its identity management technology.

"As we move forward with our Linux-based strategies, we need to know the tools we put in place will help keep us in control and contain costs. We think this (ZENworks 7.0) can help us to more quickly gather updates and patches, and distribute them to the Linux servers," said Dennis Large, an IT LAN administrator at the University of Louisville.

Scheduled to be released in this year's second quarter, Novell intends to demonstrate the product at its annual BrainShare conference later this month.

"Some of the key things we'll show at Brainshere are how ZenWorks can help migrate you from a legacy environment to the latest and greatest. By having deeper lifecycle management, we can now say we have a comprehensive solution for Red Hat or Suse desktops and server," Buckley said.

Users can go to Novell's Web site for an online demonstration.

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