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Why Use Centralis AXE to Process ZENworks PC snAppShots?

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Ewen Anderson

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Posted: 4 Mar 2002
 

Ewen Anderson is the Managing Director of Centralis, a Novell Solutions Partner who specialise in developing software to assist ZENworks administrators managing both PC and Citrix MetaFrame environments.

Overview

This document presents the main uses and benefits of Centralis AXE, looking at real customer solutions as examples.

Centralis AXE is designed to assist users of Novell's ZENworks for Desktops by simplifying, standardising and accelerating the process of creating Novell eDirectory (NDS) application objects.

Centralis AXE imports ZENworks for Desktops AXT files into a database, creating Application Profiles which can then be edited using the software's powerful processing capabilities. Centralis AXE contains built-in editing Rules to correct common problems and allows the creation of user-defined Rules so that new knowledge can be captured, stored and applied easily to future AXT files.

Situation

Centralis consultancy services specialise in automating the distribution of applications for customers. While the ZENworks software has clearly emerged as the most effective solution, Centralis consultants identified a number of areas where additional functionality and automation would add greater value, and help to deliver an even shorter return on investment.

Key areas were:

  • Most applications needed manual editing to ensure that the correct system macros and variables were in place, or to remove unwanted settings
  • Administrators often had sections or entries which they needed to add to every snAppShot
  • Deploying snAppShots sometimes overwrote files (e.g. DLLs) which were shared by multiple applications
  • Customers were often planning to upgrade, and did not want to snAppShot applications until the latest version of ZENworks was fully deployed

Solution

Centralis AXE has been specifically designed by our consultants to assist customers using ZENworks for Desktops. It offers the following key features:

Accelerating Application Processing -- Variables, file names, directory paths and other settings, even in Windows applications like MS Office 2000 & IE5.5, make turning snAppShots into application objects complex. Centralis AXE overcomes common problems, allowing most snAppShots to be turned into applications objects without further editing. This is achieved through a database of rules which automate the manual changes and which can be shared by ZENworks for Desktops administrators, improving standards and supporting best practice. Organisations often have a variety of client environment settings, including drive letters and application directories, and Centralis AXE can automatically insert the variables and other settings required to provide portable applications.

Cleaning Application Objects - snAppShots may contain temporary files, system and user information not related to the application, which could cause problems if installed - Centralis AXE rules also strip redundant entries from snAppShots, improving the accuracy and reducing the size of final application object.

Simplifying Compatibility - Updating files shared by multiple applications can cause problems if incorrect file dates lead to older versions being deployed. Centralis AXE scans files for version information, and provides comprehensive conflict prediction reports, together with the option to automatically apply the "set copy if newer version" flag to any files containing version information. Centralis AXE also allows snAppShots taken with later versions of ZENworks for Desktops to be exported in a format compatible with any earlier version, but maintains all the information in the database for future export and use.

Customer Results

"The problem we had before deploying Centralis AXE was that there wasn't much consistency-a lot of application objects had a lot of junk in them that could cause problems," said Robert Garito (Systems Analyst, North Broward Hospital District, Florida). "I was tasked with going through every one of them and cleaning them up, which took almost a year to do. But the last 50 percent of the work was completed after BrainShare 2000 in Salt Lake City, when we bought Centralis AXE. And it took about a month to complete the project, where it would have taken another 6 to 8 months if we hadn't had Centralis AXE."

On average, the customer estimates that it now takes just 5-10 minutes to process a snAppShot using Centralis AXE. By adding up all the hours no longer dedicated to dealing with application object issues, month after month, it is easy to conclude that Centralis AXE saves North Broward Hospital District substantial sums of money and offers a quick return on investment.

Cool Solutions Offer

Any Cool Solutions readers who order Centralis AXE up until the close of BrainShare 2002 will be provided with 12 months free upgrade protection. Simply quote "Cool Solutions offer" on the order to activate.

Useful Links

For more detailed information, please check out the Centralis AXE APPNote.


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