Getting to Know the Novell Customer Center
Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
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Posted: 20 Jul 2006
Watch this short Flash demo about Novell Customer Center
As Mark Twain advised, "Put all your eggs in one basket and --- WATCH THAT BASKET." The new Novell Customer Center allows you to put all your Novell eggs in one basket, and keep a watchful eye on everything. If you've ever had the nagging suspicion that you have little piles of unused licenses going to waste, or if you need to be able to look the CIO in the eye and guarantee you are current on all security patches, you are going to love this.
With the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform, Novell has provided a new service that looks to make life much easier for you, and cut a substantial chunk out of your systems management costs. Novell Customer Center, available at www.novell.com/center is a secure website that helps you manage all your business and technical interactions with Novell.
- Why this is Cool
- What's Inside
- How Novell Customer Center Works
- Using Novell Customer Center
- Troubleshooting and Getting Help
From this one location you can review the status of all your Novell contracts, licenses, subscriptions and product entitlement - and obtain critical Linux updates and support. This is a particular boon for anyone who has to manage a Novell business or technical relationship, including purchasers, IT admins, IT managers, etc.
For example, system administrators get access to system information, subscription registration and the patches they need to address security and supportability concerns. IT managers are able to view the entire scope of their software contracts, including contract expiration dates, to effectively plan their spending. Purchasing agents can handle their part of the ordering process while leaving more technical tasks to the IT staff. And it will simplify things enormously when key IT personnel leave the company or change positions, as all information is in one place, and is easily transferred to the replacements.
The Novell Customer Center puts product media and updates within a few clicks' reach of system administrators. This will be appreciated by any administrator who has ever scrambled to find product CDs and license keys or activation codes to get a new server deployed on deadline. The Novell Customer Center takes the user right to the product downloads and patches relevant to the system's active subscriptions.
Previously, some of this functionality was available through the Customer Care Portal and the SUSE Portal, but this new Novell Customer Center (NCC) consolidates all of that and adds much more.
Here's what you get in Novell Customer Center
- Automated registration for new SUSE Linux Enterprise products
- Manual access to patches and updates for all shipping SUSE Linux Enterprise products
- Order-history logs for all Novell products, subscriptions and services
- Entitlement visibility for all SUSE Linux Enterprise subscriptions
- The ability to view Linux subscription-renewal status
- Subscription renewals via partners or Novell
And coming soon, NCC will include tools to enter, track and report on technical-support requests; purchase-planning tools; renewal-date synchronization; training resources; additional ordering tools for Novell business partners; and notification management.
Once you have been designated as an administrator for your organization, you can administer any product you have purchased from Novell. As of July 2006, the Novell Customer Center is initially fully enabled for managing the following products:
- SUSE Linux 10.1
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10
While you will see information on many Novell products within the Novell Customer Center, the activation, registration and subscription management features are fully enabled only for the products listed above. Novell plans to quickly add additional management features and supported products going forward.
This isn't just for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10. You can administer previous versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise products in NCC, but you will be unable to use some of the advanced features, such as viewing your system information and status.
NOTE: If you want to manage software from other vendors (not just Novell), take a look at Novell ZENworks. ZENworks includes capabilities for managing systems and software lifecycles on popular operating systems. It also has a complete software asset-management tool.
If you have purchased products from a reseller rather than directly from Novell, you will have the option to renew through them. In addition, you can allow others to manage products and subscriptions on your behalf by granting them access to selected company subscriptions and systems. This is terrific for small business owners who don't have their own IT staff, and instead use value-added resellers, ISVs and consultants to manage their networks.
Anyone with a Novell Login account can access NCC, although many features will not be available or useful until you either register products and services or are associated with a company that has registered products and services. Just go to www.novell.com/center. If you do not already have a Novell Login account, you will be asked to create one before you can enter the site.
There are three levels of authorization in Novell Customer Center:
- Organization administrators: Users who are authorized to manage information for the organization and all subscriptions the organization purchases.
- Group administrators: Users who are authorized to manage all subscriptions associated with a group.
- Entitled users: Users who are authorized to manage individual subscriptions.
You can even tweak some things to help you identify and manage your systems. You can choose a name for your system (it defaults to the system host name but can be whatever you prefer), some basic hardware demographics and software-update status.
All your information is stored securely, and you can look it up and edit it any time. System-specific information is available only to you to identify your systems or determine their patch statuses. Similarly, subscription-specific information -- such as the number of systems using a particular subscription activation code -- is available only to you. If you want your Novell sales representative or reseller to see this information, you need to grant them access to your account.
The Novell Customer Center simplifies the process of product activation, registration and subscription management. From the left hand navigation, the Products & Subscriptions option presents a consolidated view of both product and subscription information. Double-clicking any of the listed items provides additional details and management tasks.
Some of the important management tasks for subscription management available within the Novell Customer Center include:
- View and track subscriptions and purchased product information.
- View a list of people who have activated systems against a subscription
- View who has administrative rights to a subscription.
- Assign user access rights to updates and patches available from the Novell Customer Center.
- Restrict the use of activation codes to only users that are associated with a subscription.
When viewing a list of subscriptions, double-clicking an item brings up a page detailing the selected subscription. At this point the Administrator can add a customized subscription, view and manage entitled user for the subscription and view and manage the systems that have been registered and activated under the subscription.
Red Hat Network addresses subscription management and software-lifecycle support. Red Hat focuses on delivering what systems administrators need to keep their software up to date. While Red Hat confuses its customers by applying this name to both its online support system and its customer-premises-management product, Novell clearly delineates between its online tool (Novell Customer Center) and its management product (Novell ZENworks Linux Management).
Although Red Hat provides software updates effectively, the company does not meet all customer needs. For instance, it neglects the needs of IT managers and purchasers, and it does not provide tools for resellers.
Red Hat allows updates to be pushed from rhn.redhat.com. This provides a single point of compromise for Red Hat customers using this service -- if Red Hat gets cracked, bogus updates could be pushed out without any check or balance from the customer. Novell does not allow updates to be pushed. Instead, you obtain only the updates you want.
To access NCC, go to www.novell.com/center and log in. If you do not have a Novell Login account, you will be asked to create one. To view information about your account or subscription, you need to either register your product or contact your organization administrator to obtain access to subscriptions and products for your organization.
- Extending an evaluation
If you are currently evaluating Novell software, you may choose to extend the evaluation for an additional 60 days. To do this, you need to log in to NCC, look up your product and click the Extend link in the Action column. When appropriate, your Novell sales representative can extend your evaluation. NOTE: You can extend each product evaluation only once.
- Renewing a subscription
To renew an expired subscription, locate it in the products and subscriptions page of NCC and then click the Renew link in the Action column.
Note: In some countries and with some contract-pricing structures, Novell is unable to offer online transactions. To renew your subscription, you must purchase a new activation code and move your systems from the expiring code to the new code.
- Reassigning a subscription to another user
An organization administrator can reassign a subscription from one user to another in case someone leaves the company or changes roles. If the person who left the company is the only organization administrator, please contact us.
- Unsubscribing from e-mail notifications
To unsubscribe from an e-mail notification about your product, you may click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the e-mail. You can also do this by going to the notifications link in NCC.
- Getting online updates
In NCC, you can access updates by navigating to your product or subscription. In addition, registering your product with NCC when you install will enable your access to online updates. If you elected to report your hardware and software inventory information to Novell during registration, the NCC can also provide you update status ("traffic light") reports of your systems to help you know whether they are up to date with the latest security patches. You are always in control of what information about your systems is visible outside your firewall.
- Seeing who has rights to what
With sufficient rights, you can see a directory of other users for the currently selected organization, allowing you to see the systems and subscriptions associated to each user. This of course, can be limited to insure compliance with your established policy.
- Giving your reseller access to your account
You can grant your reseller or consultant access at any of the three authorization levels. To grant an organization administrator access, navigate to the Users tab of your organization's detail page. Click the Add button and check the Organization Administrator box. Group Administration access can be assigned to a group of products in the Products and Subscriptions List page by adding a new group or editing an existing group. You can add basic users to specific products by double-clicking the product, selecting the Entitled Users tab and adding a user there.
- Managing in multiple organizations
The NCC allows you to be associated with many different organizations. For example, if you are a reseller who provides ongoing service to several clients, you can use your same NCC login to view data for each of his customers and manage their information. When you select a different organization, your role and informational access also change based on your assigned rights.
You switch between your clients by selecting a new organization from the drop-down box in the middle of the NCC Home page.
If you notice there is some missing information in your accounts, please contact the Customer Response Center , your Novell sales representative or your Novell support account manager. You can find contact information in the left column of every page of NCC.
If you need any help, feel free to contact the Customer Response Center , your Novell sales representative or your Novell support account manager.
If you'd like to suggest enhancements or give us any feedback, just use the feedback button available at the bottom of any page on www.novell.com to send us a message.
The Novell Customer Center is designed to help the many people that interact with Novell technology, patches, contracts and orders do their job more efficiently as well as lower the cost of managing Novell products. By combining service and support options for all customer contacts, the Novell Customer Center simplifies administration, making it faster, easier and more cost-effective for companies to do business with Novell.
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