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Feb 13: Windows Vista and ZENworks, with Martin Buckley

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February 12th, 2007 by

Martin Buckley is coming in to tell us the word on when and how Novell ZENworks will manage Windows Vista.

Post your tough questions in the comments section.


Comment by Sebastiaan Veld
2007-02-12 14:41:45

Inevitably my customers want to start testing with Vista and ZENWorks in a while. Today most of them run ZENWorks 7 on NetWare, so since there’s quite a difference in the way today ZEN for Desktops is managed and configured and how that will be done with the upcoming ZENWorks for Desktops with Vista support. How about migrating existing ZENWorks infrastructure to Pulsar and coexistence of the two versions in a testing or migration stage?

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 10:57:56

Good questions Sebastiaan.

There will be migration and upgrade tools between traditional ZENworks and Pulsar. We’ll cover those on NOA, Cool Blogs and at BrainShare.

Comment by Eric
2007-02-12 15:09:05

Ask why zen now falls behind so much against altirus?

Comment by Marcel Cox
2007-02-12 15:38:10

I have always been a bit sceptical about ZENworks Desktop Management, especially regarding the development resources Novell has on it and the commitment on support. However in 2005 based on Novell long term support promise and based more specifically on Shaun Pond’s assurance that ZEN 7 will undergo continuous development, we finally decided to go for ZEN7 and did major deployment work during 2006 and the project should go on in 2007. However now I’m shocked by the fact that apparently ZEN7 is dead and that the new ZENworks, rather than just being a normal upgrade will be a completely new product rewritten from scratch based on a new architecture and not ported to NetWare. Furthermore, it has been said that Novell will not add Vista support to ZEN7 but that only the next ZENworks version will support Vista.
This is a major problem for us. While we don’t consider implementing Vista this year, we panned our current ZEN7 installation as an installation that would be meant to last for a number of years possible with just simple upgrades to support Vista. But we never anticipated that we would have to throw away the current installation and replace it with something completely new running on a different platform in order to be able to support possible future Vista clients. We really feel to have been let down big time by Novell, and based on this huge blow to our desktop management plans, we seriously consider looking elsewhere for future desktop management solutions. Based on the saying “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”, we don’t want to make the same mistake twice and we don’t want to once again loose our investment in planning and installation just because Novell doesn’t deliver on their promise to give us a long term supported solution.
This is your last chance Novell, please show me that you have not let us down on idle promises but reassure me that we have not wasted our efforts in an configuration that was meant to be the bases for the next few years of our desktop management strategy. Don’t tell me what kind of new features the next ZENworks version may have. Tell me how Novell allows me to preserve my investment of the last 2 years, not in terms of software licenses, but in terms of efforts spent on implementing our ZEN7 installation.

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 14:01:52


Your ZENworks 7 investment is safe. ZENworks 7 will be supported and have support packs for the long term. The support lifecycle is described at Novell Support Lifecycle.

As for Vista – we added this support to the new version of ZENworks primarily because Vista is so different.

Comment by Marcel Cox
2007-02-15 01:51:47


Just the weak answer I expected. I guess I will start looking for other products for my future Desktop Management needs because I no longer have any confidence in Novell’s ability to deliver a long term viable solution.

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-15 08:31:00


I’d like to understand why you think this is a ‘weak answer’.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Marcel Cox
2007-02-15 11:58:16


The are worlds between what customers have in mind and what Novell has in mind when talking about long term support. With a desktop product, support does not just mean fixing bugs and taking people’s calls on the phone, but it also means making the adjustments required to stay compatible with the changes in the ecosystem around. You may well promise general ZEN7 support up to 2010, but by next year, that support will probably already be useless to many customers which for some reason might be forced to install a couple of Vista workstations.
Now I wouldn’t be upset if there would be a simpel software upgrade that would allow Vista support while keeping the existing infratructure, but Novell does not offer anything like that. Novell’s solution is simply “If you need Vista support, switch to out new product which has nothing in common with the old one but the name”.
In our case, we did heavy investment in ZEN7 in human resources. For instance, we sent a team of 4 people to ZEN7 ATT last summer. I now feel this investment is completely wated because I will have to replace ZEN7 much sooner than expected and the whole staff training will have been of little use. If at least Novell would offer minimal Vista support for ZEN7 so that I could postpone the switch to a new product for some time, that would make things *much* easier.
Furthermore, I have very little confidence in the quality of a newly written software by the ZENworks team. If I look back and the quality disaster that the last major architecture change (ZENworks 4.0) brought, I will certainly keep my fingers off a new product in the beginning and wait for at least a year for the product to mature. However I feel that by 2008, the pressure to at least introduce Vista in some places will be very strong, and I need to have a managment solution supporting Vista by then.

Comment by Graham Hickson
2007-02-19 21:28:42

I agree with Marcel completely, what use is desktop management software that only manages half your desktops, and worse still cant roll out a new desktop OS until 6 months after general release. 6 months may not be that long from where you sit, but if you have a scenario where you need to rollout Vista PCs before June, or have to wait 3 years till the end of lease to do it, then it is no comfort that the “next version will do it”, where was that migrating NDS to Active Directory manual again! You leave us with no choice guys…..

Comment by Andrew T
2007-02-23 08:53:03

“As for Vista – we added this support to the new version of ZENworks primarily because Vista is so different.”

Martin, I believe this is the weakest part as Marcel put it. It is not about the new version that will have support for Vista – it is about the old one ( which is still current ) that will *not* have it. Primarily or not this just does not make a good excuse for many.

On the other hand, we have been using Zenworks since 3 ( or was it 2, I do not even remember now ), had a good run with 4, even better run last year with 7 ( skipped 6.5 altogether ). We never had major problems migrating or upgrading ZfD. I believe that makes a good lifecycle, from that perspective I do not see Zen 7 as some separate new product – in fact after upgrading our ZfD401 to 7 I barely noticed the difference.

One thing I am hoping for is – I would like to see Zen ( whatever version ) supporting *both* XP and Vista as there is a good chance we will have a mix of both for a year or two ( starting next year or so ).

Comment by Michael W. Folsom
2007-02-12 17:37:13

– When oh when will the next version of Zenworks be released. First I heard it was early to mid Jan 07 then early Feb then late Feb and now March something. I need it badly.

– Why do Zenworks 7 and SLED/SLES10 have such wierd problems together. For example:

– when I try and use Zenworks on a SLED10 x86 system to upgrade bind-libs & bind-utils it wants to uninstall dhcp-client and yast2-printer

– why does updates for at, cron, cups-client tar & other stuff require the removal of lsb?

– Zenworks has other recurring problems that need to be fixed – downloads of SLES9 x86 and x86-64 patches from your servers often simply fail with lovely error messages like:

Error: An error occurred while trying to add the patch “patch-11328” to the bundle “/SLES9-i586/patch-11328”. (java.rmi.RemoteException: unknown exception at server could not load patch file: Unrecognised key in patch file: updatescript; nested exception is:
com.novell.zenworks.datamodel.extensions.packages.PatchFileException: Unrecognised key in patch file: updatescript; nested exception is:

I’ve had this happen to me multiple times for different patches requiring a strange dance of stopping/starting Zenworks, rebooting, and host of other types of incantations – shouldn’t Zenworks be past thay by now especially when we are talking about simply draging down patches for SLES9?

This is a nice product – please get it fixed!

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 10:59:16


I think you are referring to ZENworks Linux Management.

The next version – codename Breakout – is in Beta 2 right now. It should be released vrey soon.

Comment by Martin Moeller
2007-02-16 16:54:16

I have had these exact same issues. Quite frustrating.

And yes, it’s ZENworks Linux Management.

I would hope, though, that the basic things in ZENworks and ZENworks Linux Management are alike.
While I’m at it, will there ever be a ZENworks version that deals with both Linux, Windows, NetWare and Mac installations?

Comment by Paul Rock
2007-02-13 09:40:11

So Martin, what about the workstation-centric Dynamic Local User we’ve been asking for so long?

The change in Architechture might be seen by some as an opportunity to re-evaluate workstation management suites and we need to be able to say that you’ve delivered on things like this…

Comment by Jared
2007-02-13 12:44:21

1. Why the long wait, customers want to feel loved
2. What ZDM features will Vista support

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 11:02:50


It’s not really a long wait – we’ve been showing this next version under NDA for some time now.

ZENworks Pulsar will deliver all features of the ZENworks desktop management for Vista – OS deployment, personality migration, software distribution, policy management, remote control and management, inventory and great reporting.

All this in a new, browser-based console and a much more rapid deployment.

Comment by Steve
2007-02-13 22:18:28

We love having all our Zen icons, applications, workstations, policies in our eDirectory. Now Zenworks has its own database store so it really makes our eDirectory less powerful and usefull for us. I agree you needed to do that for AD customers to start using Zen but for us Novell shops this is a step away I feel?!?

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 11:01:16

Not really – we use eDirectory for what it’s powerful for – security and user management. We still deliver the value of ZENworks against the eDirectory infrastructure.

Let me be very clear – we are not stepping away from eDirectory.

Comment by Paulo
2007-02-14 07:09:39

We are currently using Zen 7, and would like to roll out this great product to one of our other companies. The only issue with this is that they have a pure Microsoft A/D environment. With the next release finally support native A/D support without eDirectory and IDM connectors. If the next version has this feature, then we are sold!!!

If not, SMS (eek!!) here we come.

Comment by Martin Buckley
2007-02-14 11:00:02


Native Active Directory integration is part of the next version of ZENworks – keep listening to NOA and reading Cool Blogs. We’ll naturally be covering this at BrainShare in a few weeks.

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