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What's New in ZENworks for Desktops 3: Part One

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Jerry Chadwick

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Posted: 23 Aug 2000
 

Version: ZENworks for Desktops 3

Just when you thought you'd reached "ZenTopia", ZENworks for Desktops 3 (ZfD3) is going to blow your socks off! Here's the scoop, direct from Jerry Chadwick, one of the Development Managers for ZENworks for Desktops.

A few years back I was into martial arts in a big way. Throwing caution to the wind (not to mention several thousand dollars!) I quickly rose to the lofty rank of blue-belt-with-one-green-stripe. (Or perhaps it was green-belt-with-one-blue-stripe; I can't remember.) With this prestigious title, however, I was master of four katas, dozens of forms, and about a hundred different ways to maim, slash and disfigure. I was in heaven.

Now I could safely walk the streets knowing that if even the cruelest misanthrope accosted me I could stare him in the eye and with Patton-like courage reach into the hidden flap of my Chuck Norris stretch jeans (you know, the ones that look like normal jeans but let you kick high above your head because the crotch area is spandex) and hand him my wallet. (I'm not stupid.)

Anyway, the one thing I do actually remember from my ninja-owns-the-night days is the philosophy of ZEN. After countless hours of kneeling on a rock-hard wooden floor breathing ("in through the nose, out through the mouth") and meditating, I finally discovered that peace is a priceless jewel. Clarity of thought is without peer. For a few moments each day all of my worries, fears, regrets, anxieties, etc., were swept quietly down the laughing brook bubbling through my mind.

But just like the street, business life is fraught with peril. The philosophy and goal of ZENworks is to leverage Novell's world class Directory Services to provide desktop administrators the "peace" of a safe corporate "street."

ZENworks for Desktops 3 builds on the solid foundation of ZENworks 2 to provide unparalleled desktop administration. This article describes what's new in the latest version of Novell's award-winning product.

So let's whet your appetite a little. For an hors d'oeuvre, try some robust Windows 2000 support including group policies and Microsoft Installer (MSI) integration. Next how about a tasty morsel of running in an NT/2000 only environment -- no NetWare OS dependencies? Follow that up with healthy portions of disconnected (mobile) application support, enterprise-wide hardware and software inventory with database roll-up, faster, more functional remote control with Wake-On-Lan support, consolidated policy packages, auto workstation import and registration, and a brand new imaging solution. To fill up the corners we have a completely revamped, much more palatable install. Salivating yet?

These and other enhancements and new features make ZENworks for Desktops 3 your best choice for outstanding total desktop management.

In this article we'll give you a quick peek at what's new in ZENworks for Desktops 3. Upcoming installments will go into more depth on particular components of the product.

No NetWare OS Dependencies

Right out of the gate, ZfD 3 takes a giant step forward in supporting Novell's "one Net" vision by removing the requirement to have NetWare installed in your corporate network. Using eDirectory, ZENworks provides unbeatable desktop management to customers using any supported platform. Of course NetWare is still the world's fastest and most reliable network operating system. ZENworks also runs like a cheetah on NetWare, but for those shops that use another network operating system, ZfD3, coupled with eDirectory, cannot be beaten.

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 support is at the heart of ZENworks for Desktops 3. A couple of the more exciting features added for ZfD 3 are MSI support for Application Objects (discussed in detail below) and Windows 2000 Group Policy integration. All features of ZfD 3 are fully functional on Windows 2000 and take advantage of this robust, more stable client platform. We'll have much to say about rolling out and administering Windows 2000 using ZEN in the next installment of this article.

ConsoleOne Administrative Interface

ConsoleOne is Novell's java-based network administration tool. All components of ZENworks for Desktops are administered through snapins to ConsoleOne. No other administration tools are necessary to configure ZENworks NDS objects and policies.

Application Management

Disconnected Application Launcher

The Novell Application Launcher components of ZfD 3 allow the administrator to deliver applications to workstations that can then be disconnected from the network, while maintaining the availability and integrity of the applications and preserving the familiar NAL launch and distribution functionality. This feature provides the ability to run Application Launcher or Explorer on a disconnected machine, to install and verify software delivery packages, and to run locally installed applications. These application packages exist in a compressed, disconnected application cache that resides on the local hard drive and can be delivered from the network or from a portable storage medium such as a CD or removable hard drive.

Imaging Application Launcher support

This feature provides the ability for Application Launcher packages to be installed as part of a workstation image. Images of individual workstations are created using Novell's workstation imaging product (described below). In NDS, Application objects can be added onto Image objects representing the actual images to create a "customized" virtual image that can be applied to the target machine. This effectively reproduces not only the base image but also the desired applications.

Application Uninstall

This feature provides the ability to uninstall a ZENworks installed application. This includes both applications installed with ZfD 3 and applications installed with previous versions of ZENworks. The removal of an application includes deletion of files, ini entries, and registry entries associated with the application. Shared DLL reference counts are observed.

MSI Integration

This feature provides the ability for the Application Launcher to fully support the installation of an MSI-based application. Application objects can now be created using Microsoft's MSI installation packages. This enables Application Launcher to handle applications such as MS Office 2000 that are instrumented to support "install on demand" functionality. MSI-based application objects support all new ZfD 3 functionality including uninstall, imaging, and disconnected mode. Of course ZENworks supports MSI integration on all Win32 platforms including Windows 95/98, NT and 2000.

Reporting Enhancements

Application Management Reporting in ZfD 3 simplifies and improves the database schema allowing the use of third-party reporting tools, and provides new reporting events and templates. SNMP traps are no longer used to send events to the databases. Alarm Manager is thus no longer required. Also, the NAL reporting database schema is published on the web to facilitate use of your own reporting tools.

Tiered Electronic software Distribution (TED) Integration

With the ZfD 3 release, the Application Launcher will integrate with the soon to be available ZENworks for Servers 2 product. This integration, known as the NAL Application Distribution Agent, allows administrators to schedule creation or synchronization of any existing Application Launcher Object from one geographic location to another in the NDS tree, and to distribute associated files to subscribing servers located near users of the application. This will drastically simplify the process of distributing applications to multiple sites.

Policies

A tremendous amount of effort was put into revamping and improving ZENworks policies and packages. Included in that effort are:

  • Consolidated Policy Packages. Now NT packages and 95/98 packages are integrated to provide simpler management of heterogeneous platform environments.
  • A new policy for Windows Terminal Server user settings.
  • Windows 2000 Group Policy support. One of the really cool aspects of ZfD's group policy support is to be able to apply group policies not only to containers but also to users, user groups, workstations, workstation groups, etc.

Auto Workstation Import

This feature eliminates the manual step between registration and having a workstation object in your tree. We've also added a removal policy and engine that will remove old, unused, workstation objects from your NDS tree, thereby assisting in keeping your tree clean and up-to-date. Workstations are now completely autonomous -- they don't have to be tied to user objects. From a user object you can now see what workstations a user is using at that time.

Inventory

Inventory enhancements in ZfD 3 include enterprise inventory, with database roll-up capability for small to large enterprises, reporting enhancements to allow third-party reporting tools, a simplified inventory schema, and Oracle 8-ready for shops with proper Oracle licenses. (Sybase still ships with ZfD3.)

Remote Management

Remote Control adds capabilities to blank a user's screen and lock use of their mouse/keyboard. Wake-on-LAN is now supported so that individual workstations can be awakened and remotely controlled. Also there are vast performance enhancements in remote control (really!).

Imaging

Workstation Imaging is a completely new component in the ZENworks product line. The goal with imaging is to show how common, routine functions like setting up workstations can be simplified, automated, and centralized through integration with NDS. No, this won't solve all your imaging issues today, but it is a pretty cool first cut at doing something that many IS departments need on a daily basis. Workstation images are represented as objects in the NDS tree. Those objects can then be directly applied to a workstation or can be associated through policies, thus putting control of which image is applied to which workstation back into the hands of the administrator rather than a desktop technician.

Conclusion

ZENworks for Desktops 3 is destined to be another big hit from the Novell kitchens. Part Two of this series will include detailed descriptions of ZEN's Microsoft 2000 support and ZfD 3 Imaging. Y'all come back hungry now, heeuh?

For more information about ZENworks for Desktops 3 see the Product Home Page.


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