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Using ZENworks to Patch and Upgrade Your Servers

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Martin Irwin

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Updated: 16 Aug 2005

Typically, when administrators patch a given server, they need to remotely control each server, copy the patch, launch the patch installation and then monitor its completion. The time involved can be anywhere between half an hour and two hours -- and sometimes even more. Multiply that by hundreds of servers and many patches -- the costs to your business can skyrocket.

Not all patches can be slowly rolled out over time, either. Security patches need immediate attention, as do those that resolve the downtime that causes revenue loss. Additionally, scheduling each patch based on priority is crucial in reducing administrative costs. For example, giving your virus-update patch a higher priority over a service pack is imperative.

From a physical-networking perspective, things become even more complex. Sending the same patch five times to five servers instead of once and then forwarding it on can cause slow response times for your users. On the other hand, when you don't fully utilize the same WAN bandwidth, it is wasted during off-peak hours. The same arguments can be applied to upgrades, too. You can save much time and effort by automating application upgrades or even upgrades to the operating systems themselves.

Often, you may need to tailor each patch or upgrade for every server it's going to run on. You may need to establish set or registry parameters prior to running the upgrade or change a few text files to localize the install script or upgrade application in order for it to run. Making such changes manually for every server in your organization is cost-prohibitive. However, performing these tasks with ZENworks Server Management software packages is an easy and efficient process.

This white paper addresses all of these concerns by showing how the award-winning Novell ZENworks software can tier, schedule and automate the distribution of Novell patches. With ZENworks Server Management 6.5 policy and distribution services, you can use Novell templates for sending patches out, tailor them to suit a particular environment or even write and compile your own patches for any third-party software you may run on your servers. Almost any software patch can be programmed into a ZENworks Server Management software package.

In particular, this paper addresses two configurations of software packages from Novell: the uncompiled software package, which is a template for modifying to your own environmental needs, and the compiled software package, which contains the files and logic for the installation but cannot be modified.

Patches and Upgrades

Here are some of the available patches and upgrades detailed in this paper:

  • Novell NetWare Service Pack
  • Open Enterprise Server Upgrade: NetWare to NetWare
  • Novell eDirectory Patching
  • Windows
  • GroupWise Upgrades and Patching
  • Novell Java Virtual Machine for NetWare Patching
  • Upgrading and Patching Your ZENworks Server Management Environment
  • Upgrading Tiered Electronic Distribution Using Itself

Download the White Paper PDF.


Throughout the paper, we mention some Software Template files ( SPKs) by name that are included in this zip file. I have also included some additional examples; more SPKS than are mentioned in this article.

The white paper explains in depth what and how we apply various Software packages using ZENworks server Management 6.5. It was also meant to create interest by way of examples for you to explore what you can do with your own SPK files. I have included a few other test SPK files in the ZIP that hopefully will seed some of your own ideas on what to do with this feature of ZSM 6.5.

If you create your own SPK file or you find a neat feature to add to some of these and you'd like to share with the Cool Solutions community, please write a small paragraph on it and submit it here to Cool Solutions.


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