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What's New in ZENworks 2?

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Posted: 15 Jun 1999
 

What's New in ZENworks 2

Wondering exactly what goodies you'll find in ZENworks 2? You're not alone. Ever since the product was announced we've had a steady stream of reader mail asking for a peek at the entire feature list. If you've been keeping up with the weekly Q&A you'll know a lot of the things that will be available in ZENworks 2. And we've already run an article on the new Application Launcher features. But there's nothing like seeing everything in one place, now is there? So grab a Dr Pepper, put up your feet, and take a look at what's in store.

Here is a brief tour of all the new features in ZENworks 2. You'll also notice we've included some of your letters in these descriptions. Since customer input has been a hallmark of this product's development since the beginning, we thought you'd like to see the kinds of customer needs that have helped shape many of the new features. (If you've ever wondered how influential a single little e-mail can be, wonder no more. And whatever you do, don't stop writing.)

Three areas of functionality

ZENworks 2 has three main areas of functionality. They are application management, workstation management, and remote management.

Frequently Asked Questions about ZENworks 2 gives info about some popular reader questions. Undoubtedly there'll be more questions once the product ships, but that's why we have weekly Q&A. Also, we've got several upcoming articles under development right now, to illuminate a lot of the nooks and crannies of this coolest of ZEN releases. Stay tuned...

Application Management

Workstation Association

Workstation Association allows the administrator to associate an Application object to a Workstation object, a Workstation Group object or any Container object. The application is then available on the affected workstation or workstations no matter who is logged in at that workstation. The application can be distributed to, or run on those workstations even when no user is logged in. This provides for "lights out" distribution. The application stays with the workstation and doesn't follow the user, thus limiting the availability of the application to the appropriate location or locations. This is particularly useful when software licensing schemes are set up on a per workstation basis. The administrator can easily restrict software licenses to only legitimate workstations.

Customer Input

This is one of the most requested new features in this new release. The ability to associate applications to specific workstations turns out to be a very useful extension of the product for lots of practical reasons. In fact, any time the ZEN team goes on the road and meets customers, this is on the wish list. We've seen lots of impassioned pleas for this as well. Here are some typical samples of customer requests.

  • We have updates that we need to make to an application on specific workstations. These updates are specific to the area the workstation is in, for instance on one floor of a hospital. The nurses that use this application may move from floor to floor however, and we need to make sure that the right update gets done to the right workstation and not to the wrong one. Is there a way to distribute NAL applications to a specific workstation based on workstation name or something like that?

  • Is there any way to associate an application object to a workstation object? Some of our applications need to be installed locally, but, since we're using NAL for the desktop instead of the NT desktop, we can't display a local desktop icon. We've been associating the local applications to the user object, but then if they log on to another workstation, it blows up. Also, if another user not associated with the app logs in, they can't run it, even though it's locally installed. Any way at all to make the object available based on the workstation id? OR, Any way to check if an application is locally installed before displaying the object's icon?

  • How can I allow certain applications to run on certain machines in certain areas. I have ZEN 1.1 and NOVELL 5. There doesn't seem to be a function that lets me associate applications to workstations? HELP!

  • Is there any way to distribute an application object based on workstation? I don't want to necessarily distribute an application to any PC that a user visits, and would have much more control for licensing purposes, if I could distribute based on workstation.

Pre-Install

Pre-Install allows the administrator to effect a "lights-out distribution" of an application, installing the app when no user is logged in but the machine is left on. This means that the application will be distributed according to a schedule that the administrator sets up in the Application object. When the application is "pre-installed" all of the local machine settings and files are distributed to the machine. Only the user-specific settings are distributed when the user attempts to run the application for the first time. In large applications or application suites this greatly reduces the time the user has to wait the first time the application is run.

Customer Input

  • How do I distribute an application overnight while users are not there? In order to avoid a lot of traffic during the day, I want to distribute Office 97 overnight. I have created two applications that should be run at night. One that removes Office 4.3 and one that installs Office97. It takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes to execute. How do I setup the application to run overnight?

Pre and Post Distribution Scripts

Pre and Post Distribution Scripts allow the administrator to run configuration programs specific to the installation of the application. These scripts are only run as part of a distribution. If the distribution has already occurred, the scripts will not run.

System Requirements

This gives the administrator the ability to deliver applications based on file existence, version, or date, on a registry setting, on an environment variable, or on another Application object's availability. Also available is the Show/Hide Icon flag. This flag allows the administrator to control whether the application icon is visible even if all of the system requirements are not met. If the flag is set to display the icon even if it is unavailable, the icon will appear in a disabled state.

Customer Input

  • I have a user group object that has all the apps, patches, fonts, etc. that all users get. I thought about creating a user group for certain OS's but that won't help when the users move from machine to machine like they tend to do(a lot). I though it would be great if I could distribute applications to workstation objects and workstation group objects. I could have a WIN95-OSR1 object that had the service patch application objects associated with it, regardless of who logged into it. But I don't see how I can distribute applications to workstations. So there must be a (better?) way? If you cannot distribute applications to workstations, then this will also interfere with anyone that was trying to distribute an application that took advantage of hardware that was only attached to specific machines ( certain printers, scales, serial port devices, whatever), and the users change every shift. I thought about a machine-specific user, but I don't what a generic user, how would I know at any given moment who that generic user actually is? That would wreak havoc on accountability.

Prompted Macros

Prompted Macros is an extension to the current Application Launcher macros to allow data values for a macro to be input at distribution time. This feature would allow a user to select where the application is installed or to customize other features of the application distribution. For example, you could set up a macro that will prompt people for their telephone extensions, name, organization name, etc., when the App Launcher does an install.

Customer Input

  • My users are very fussy about which drive their applications are installed to. Could you please, please, please give me a way to allow the user a choice of local drives to install the software to?

Run Application as Windows NT System User

Run Application as Windows NT System User provides full access to a Windows NT Workstation and the ability to run an executable on that workstation as a system user, even if the logged-in user has no rights to the system space. This functionality is very useful in rolling out applications that require their own installation program to be run and the user doesn't have rights to run it. A good example of this is Windows NT service packs.

Force Run Wait Processing

Force Run Wait Processing forces the application to wait for a previous force-run application to finish before running. This allows the administrator to serialize the installation or running of applications. Applications can thus be chained to run one after the other. Any reboot prompts are queued until the end of the chain.

Customer Input

  • As we migrate a lot of stations with a lot of applications like Office, client access for AS400, etc., we found there were some problems in the order of distribution. I have seen the tool NALRUN32 and NALRUNW however there is no proper explanation how to use it. How would I distribute several applications in a certain order? I would suggest you build something into the next release that properly addresses this issue.

  • Due to the inability to have an order in which to install things we have had a few stations getting the error novellnp.dll could not be loaded, after which the explorer causes a GPF error and the machine has to be reinstalled.

Workstation Management

Extensible desktop policies

Extensible desktop policies will allow an administrator to bring any .ADM file into the Directory. .ADM files for users can be applied to a container, or user, user group. .ADM files for workstations can be applied to any workstation, or workstation group.

Customer Input

  • We used to be able to assign a specific NT policy File to a container, group or user (The old NT Workstation Manager). It appears you can assign Policy Files (by specifying location under Novell Client Properties) to Workstations only. It also appears that you can only have one NT Workstation Group associated per Workstation Package. Since the Policy Settings in the User & Workstation package are not extensible (ie. Office '97, IE ADM Templates) we can't use them effectively.

  • Can you associate a User policy package to a workstation group, independent of who logs in at these machines? BUT not to everyone in the container. Here's the reason: I have several workstations where many different people log in, and they keep SCREWING up the settings i,e. change wall paper, modify wave files, change sound settings, MOVE and DELETE Files!!! (None of YOUR users do this do they??).

  • We are investigating running an action item that modifies the user's registry with the policy file settings that we want. This way we hope we can go back to specifying individuals. Are my assumptions correct? If so, when will the next release of ZEN works address these issues?

  • I want to extend the policies provided by ZENworks by importing additional .adm template files (for MS Office 97 as an example). Is this possible?

Hardware Inventory

Hardware inventory is now stored in an embedded database. The database is a server side, ODBC compliant database. A subset of the database information is still stored in NDS. This subset of information includes:

  • Operating system type
  • NIC type
  • Video type
  • Novell client version
  • BIOS type
  • Amount of memory
  • Computer type (Compaq, IBM, Dell)
  • Computer Model (Compaq, IBM, Dell)
  • Processor Type ( Pentium, Pentium II)
  • Disk Drives (C, D, E)
  • Drive Sizes ( C-1gig, D-4gig)
  • Asset Tag #, Serial #, Model #
  • Subnet address, MAC address, IP, and IPX address.

Customer Input

  • I am new to ZEN. We provide workstation management services to our clients. We cannot and will not be aware of all physical changes to our clients' desktops in terms of location and parts replacement maintenance. This leads to a problem I see inherent in all desktop management products: the inability to accurately provide inventory information for a particular location/site at any given moment.

  • I need to be able to get more info like free disk space, and memory usage.

Software inventory

Software inventory is stored in an embedded database. The database is a server side, ODBC compliant database and is shared with the hardware inventory information. In-house application signatures can be added to the Novell database, so that these applications can be discovered by the software scanner.

Customer Input

  • Just installed ZEN works 1.1 and took a look at the inventory page. Is this it or am I missing more info? I need to know what software is installed on the PC.

Reporting

Reporting will allow canned reports to be populated from the embedded database. These reports contain such information as

  • Application Launch\Distribution\Filter reports
  • Hardware inventory reports
  • Software inventory reports.

Customer Needs

  • We are managing a number of sites with ZENworks and were wondering if any reporting/analysis tools are available for the ZENworks NDS extensions. It would be nice to be able to compare application objects in different parts of an NDS tree to see what differences exist. Also, generally being able to use an application to document the settings of an application and application distribution would be very helpful.

  • I work in an environment that has multiple users using Novell Application Launcher daily to run and install applications. I would like to know is there a program that will display who has recently used an object and when, so I can determine if it is valid or needs to be replaced.

  • I am using ZEN works 1.1 (the full version) and have a question about the software distribution. When I distribute a new version of a program (which is made by ourselves with specific product information) to a selected group of people, I would like to see the progress of the distribution. Is there a way or a utility to see which people of this selected group have the new version and who don't?

  • I understand that Intel has a product by the name of Multi Platform Manager API, that runs on the workstation and has various trap reporting alerts for monitoring of disk space when getting close to a defined capacity threshold, processor violation, missing DLLS....etc. Does the ManageWise monitoring configuration work with ZENworks for the above stated monitoring alerts? If so this would be so hot from a centralized operations monitoring and alerting console for monitoring of workstations disk drives, memory issues, processor issues, application issue, etc. Where can I find the ZEN\ManageWise configuration information for the needed business requirement? This would be a nice thing! If this functionality is not provided with ZENworks via ManageWise can Novell ZENworks development engineer this functionality into the next revision of ZENworks? This is becoming a hot initiative in the industry!!

  • I would find it very helpful if the inventory program would report the speed and a more specific type of processor. I.E., Pentium II, 333mz, etc. Is this going to be included sometime? What about improving the reporting functionality?

Remote Management

Remote execute

Remote execute is a utility launched from NWadmin that allows an administrator to choose a target workstation and execute an application on that workstation. This feature requires distinct rights in NDS, and has a separate policy setting in the policy package.

Customer Input

  • Is there going to be an option to reboot a users workstation after a NAL download is complete instead of prompting them to do a restart? I can't believe how many users actually don't do the restart and then call our support desk for help. This would be a great feature.

  • I currently work on a help desk for a large insurance company. We have to service four states from this office. I heard that ZENworks has the capability to allow me to somehow view on my screen a users actual desktop screen, seeing what they are clicking on and also I can help them by clicking things for them. Do you understand what I am describing?

  • Is there a way to run the remote control in the background? So the user does not see the button on the task bar and cannot terminate it.

  • The remote control feature is truly amazing, and a big time saver. We have three main campuses at work. Using remote control lets us solve 90% of the user problems, without ever having to leave our desk, and miss important telephone calls.

  • Why is it not possible to enable Remote Control installation in the Novell Client Install Manager, so you can use it in an unattend.txt file in an /ACU client install?

  • Is there a way to have the remote control agent start on a WIN95 PC BEFORE logging in to a WIN95 workstation? Under WINNT, the service starts with the system, so a PC can be remote controlled without having to be logged in to the server.

  • Why is there no Object Copy Utility? I have many remote servers & hate having to setup all the NAL objects via the Duplicate an existing Application object. We have over 25 apps at every server, so it can be grueling to do this. Please create one fast, if there isn't one already around the shop.

Remote view

Remote view is a utility launched from NWadmin that allows a person who initiates the remote view session to view a target workstation desktop, but have no keyboard or mouse support. This feature requires distinct rights in NDS, and has a separate policy setting in the policy package.

File transfer

File transfer is a utility launched from NWadmin that allows an administrator to choose a target workstation and transfer a file to or from that workstation using IP. This feature requires distinct rights in NDS, and has a separate policy setting in the policy package.

Chat

Chat is a utility launched from NWadmin that allows a keyboard conversation to occur between the initiator and receiver of the chat utility.

Workstation diagnostics

Workstation diagnostics is a utility launched from NWadmin that allows an administrator to view real time workstation information such as client version, NetWare connections, memory, etc.

Customer Input

  • How can I recognize what PC the user is on? My users roam around the building, so when they call for help I would like to be able to find out what PC they are on and then go ahead with the remote control. I have not been able to find an easy way for me to find out what is the name of the PC so I can remote control.

Rights Wizard

Rights wizard will allow an administrator to easily grant rights to one or many users. These rights include the right to remote control, file transfer, remote execute, and/or remote view. Rights wizard will also provide a basic view by object of who has what rights on that object.

Improved Windows NT agent

The remote control Windows NT agent has been improved to be faster and more reliable.

Audit log for Windows NT

An audit log for the Windows NT remote control is kept in the NT security log. This audit log contains such information as who initiated the remote control, who accepted the remote control, and a time stamp to show the duration of the remote control.

Customer Input

  • I really like the possibilities of ZENworks remote control, but is there any type of audit trail? I work for a very security minded company and will not be allowed to even load remote control if no one can see where I've been.

Inventory information added to Help Request

The Help Request information has now been augmented with workstation inventory information. The inventory information can be viewed by the user through the Help Request system in ZENworks, and it can also be sent via e-mail through the Help Request system as part of the trouble ticket information. The inventory information contains:

  • Operating system type
  • Revision level (OSR2, service pack 3)
  • NIC type, and driver version
  • Video type, and driver version
  • Novell client version
  • BIOS type and revision
  • Amount of memory
  • Computer type

Configurable trouble ticket

The Help Request policy has been enhanced to allow administrator to configure which information is sent with the trouble ticket. The administrator can choose whether or not NDS information (User context, workstation context, etc.) is sent with the trouble ticket. The administrator can also choose whether or not workstation inventory (Operating system type, Revision level (OSR2, service pack 3), NIC type, and driver version, Video type, and driver version, Novell client version, BIOS type and revision, Amount of memory, Computer type, etc.) is sent with the trouble ticket.

Customer Input

  • I hear that ZEN 2 will include some level of helpdesk-style functionality. Can you run down the details of what's included? Any reporting functionality? Ticket-tracking?

Help Request Software Development Kit (SDK)

The Help Request SDK is available from Novell developers web site at http://developer.novell.com/ndk/leadedge.htm.

Leading Edge 108 - includes an early look at ZENworksAPIs, and provides access to the information in a trouble ticket as generated by a help requester.

FAQ about ZENworks 2

What will endusers notice in this new version?

Nigel wrote: I'll be installing ZEN works on the network here and my boss has asked me to write an announcement to the users explaining (selling) ZEN by what the users will get out of it. Does someone have a (nice) way to tell users they want ZEN? I'm terrible about this sort of thing.

While many of the benefits of ZENworks will be recognized by the administrator (time savings), and the boss (cost savings), the product was actually designed specifically to make networks easier for users. In fact, the name ZENworks stands for Zero Effort Networks, which means Zero Effort for users. As you well know, ZENworks doesn't make networking effortless for administrators. (Hence this site, the docs, the Help files, the TIDS, the AppNotes, the Tool Kit, Consulting Services, etc.) Networking is seriously hard work, but ZENworks makes it possible for all that work to seem effortless to endusers. By putting the technical configuration and other responsibilities in the hands of the network experts (that's you), the users are free to focus on their business, not technology.

Here are a few cool things that your endusers will notice:

  1. Users can have access to all their applications and their own wallpaper and screensaver, no matter what workstation they are using. (Hey, they spent a lot of time getting that Darth Maul gif to tile just right. They're invested, for crying out loud.)

  2. They can get the software they need, when they need it. They don't have to use a CD to install their applications, and the administrator can push stuff to them automatically without them having to know anything about using the network. Like most other magic, this can even happen at night, so they won't waste any time in the morning getting right to work.

  3. They'll always be able to use the printer that is closest to them. (Never underestimate the appeal of physical convenience.)

  4. If they have network problems, the administrator can troubleshoot them remotely, without having to schedule a visit to their office. (Nice as you are, they still think of you as the dentist, come to inflict shame and possible pain.)

  5. When they request help, they won't have to feel stupid. You'll be able to see what's going on with their applications and get all kinds of info about their hardware without having to ask them for a lot of bewildering details.

  6. They can't permanently screw up any application. If they accidentally delete an application file or rampage through their unprotected Registry, you can easily restore everything back to normal. (Never underestimate the instructional value of fail-safe exploration.)

  7. If you choose to purchase Check 2000 to use with ZENworks, they can rest more comfortably knowing they can stay productive when the new millenium rolls around.

Where do I go for more information?

Your best source for information about how the ZENworks 2 features work will be the online Help. This is often ignored, oddly enough. Customer Support reports that many of you are spending lots of money calling them about things that are answered (for free) in the Help file. Unless you have unlimited access to Support as part of your license agreement, you'll want to explore the Help before you do anything else. And even if Support is free to you, try Help once just for the adrenaline rush.

There will also be an online Reference guide on the CD that will contain details about installation and migration. And don't forget the ever-popular Readme file, which will contain essential information that didn't make the deadline to be in the Help or online Reference.

For troubleshooting information, one of the richest resources in the Support Knowledgebase. Check there to see if your problem has already happened to someone else, and how it was solved.

And of course, Cool Solutions will be here every week, supplying a steady stream of Q&A, Tips, Feature Articles, and reader-submitted solutions focused on the most common customer requests.

When will ZENworks 2 be available?

I would like to know when the next version of ZENworks (2.0) will be available? This version has some nice features that I need.

The official word is: Calendar Quarter 2. Which to us looks a lot like the end of June, 1999, but it's hard to say for sure when it'll cross your path. Ship dates are a tricky business, because there are so many factors that affect a product's availability in any given location. Namely, the mysteries of the reseller channel, the product localization process, and, most importantly, the final ripening (testing, tweaking, and more testing) a product undergoes which makes it safe for public consumption. Trust us when we say, you wouldn't want it before it's ripe, and we won't let it out the door until it is.


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