Cool Solutions

ZENworks Next Generation – part 1



October 10, 2006 10:06 pm





In an earlier Cool Blogs post I set out my plan to describe the Next Generation of ZENworks. This is the first in that series – the History of ZENworks.

I have written this series of blog posts using my experience of describing the Next Generation of ZENworks to customers and partners. These are slightly longer posts than normal – I apologise in advance. I hope the content is informative and useful. I look forward to your comments and questions.

Written at: Waltham, MA

The History of ZENworks

Looking back. Product evolution.

As I have been working with customers and partners to describe the future of ZENworks I have found it useful to describe the evolution of ZENworks over the years and to use that context to understand why we are evolving the ZENworks architecture.

As many of you may remember, ZENworks traces its origins back to the days of NetWare 4.11 when the NetWare Application Launcher (NAL) and Workstation Manager were released. Soon these components were expanded, features were added and the first Zero Effort Networking for users – 1 – was released in 1998.

The ZENworks product line was expanded in 2000 with the release of ZENworks for Desktops 3 and the first release of ZENworks for Servers. ZENworks for Desktops 3 was a milestone release; it used ConsoleOne for the first time and was cross platform – supporting NetWare as well as Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 server platforms.

ZENworks for Desktops 4 in 2002 added the Middle Tier server – allowing management across the internet and without requiring the Novell Client32 on managed devices.

ZENworks for Servers continued to evolve adding close integration with ZENworks for Desktops and Tiered Electronic Distribution allowing vast scale for enterprise software distribution.

ZENworks historical roadmap

These architectures are still at the heart of ZENworks today. They have made ZENworks exceptionally successful.

Why so successful?

There are three main threads to the success of ZENworks:

Cross platform support

As I noted, cross platform support started with ZENworks for Desktops 3. Today ZENworks runs on NetWare, Windows, Open Enterprise Server and SLES. It supports a variety of databases. It manages Windows, Linux and Handheld devices.

Cost effective management

Time after time independent study shows that ZENworks costs less. Less to deploy, less to manage. Some of our most vocal reference customers stand up and state they manage tens of thousands of users with a team of a few people. ZENworks runs on your existing infrastructure, without requiring dedicated Windows servers or database servers.
The most telling aspect of the cost effectiveness of ZENworks is that once configured users and workstations will inherit their desired state by virtue of their business role, location or characteristics. ZENworks administrators regularly share that they ‘just create users, ZENworks does the rest’.

Best in class scalability and reliability

ZENworks uses Novell eDirectory as its backbone and store for all of its relationships, actions and objects. ZENworks also uses Tiered Electronic Distribution – part of ZENworks Server Management – to replicate applications and images across a heterogeneous enterprise. ZENworks inherently includes methods for failover, redundancy, load balancing as well as support for roaming and mobile users.
All of these features mean that ZENworks will scale. Typically ZENworks will run in any environment from 250 users to way over 125,000 users. Without breaking a sweat.
Novell shares its own best practices for design and architecture with customers and partners. The ZENMaster framework has been used around the globe as a blueprint for successful deployments. Using these recommendations anyone can deploy ZENworks with confidence that they will succeed.

ZENmaster structure

Why Next Generation?

ZENworks has been wildly successful. There are many, many tens of millions of workstations under management, ZENworks is now the second largest revenue generating product inside Novell, customers are having great success. Why change?

The main reason for change is to meet the expectations of all of our customers in the coming years. Web services, open standards, server consolidation, desktop migration, security pressures, virtualisation, adoption of ITIL, COBIT and other best practices are all on the ‘To-Do List’ for IT organisations. The Next Generation ZENworks is intended to be a platform for the future that delivers on these areas, while continuing to deliver the value and agility that ZENworks has shown for the past eight years.

My next post will dive into the Next Generation architecture and cover why this is a good thing for existing Novell customers and also a good thing for new customers.

Stay tuned.

Written at: Waltham, MA

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  1. By:Chris in the UK

    Hey Martin,

    Good article, makes me nostalgic! 😉 However, I’m always curious to know why ZEN for Networks has been airbrushed out of history? Was it pants or something?



  2. Are you asking for a ZENworks for Networks post too? It’s still available for download 🙂

  3. […] So I got inundated with email from inside and outside Novell when I posted that ‘ZENworks for Networks’ was still available for download. […]

  4. By:ditto


    I know this has nothing to do with this blog but i was really wondering why zen-updater is so terribly slow and east a huge amount of memory. I mean, I’ve installed Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) a few days ago and after installation i got 40 new updates for the system (including a new kernel). I did the updates and it took me only 2 minutes. If i get 40 updates on SUSE 10.1 (like updating KDE) it takes me from 8 to 12 minutes to update (update downloads not included). Also zen-updater uses a huge amount of RAM. I’m sorry if I’m posting this here but i really don’t know who or where to ask why this new SUSE update system is so damn slow… will it be fixed/improved someday soon? And what was wrong with the previous YOU update system? Why replace it with something slow, ugly and buggy?

  5. By:Oliver McLean

    I can’t wait for a Zenworks version that runs under Active Directory, without Edirectory!

  6. By:Ron van Herk

    “that runs under Active Directory”

    Hmm, let me get into that a bit….

    Yes, ZENworks currently makes use of eDirectory and due to the great scalability of eDirectory this allows ZENworks to scale to extremely large environment. Unfortunately the eDirectory support guys aren’t always happy with the ZENworks objects within the tree, the objects often have large stream files and somehow the eDir people don’t really like these large objects.
    OK, so now we want to run native with Active Directory. Somehow the people that administer AD are extremely careful on what they do with their domain controllers, for some reason there seems to be a need to be careful with these if you want to keep them running stable :-). So, what do you think if we would like to add all our ZEN objects to AD? Most of these AD admins would start screaming and will refuse to have any additional info into their database.
    OK, so what do we do (and I assume Martin will get back to this later), ZENworks will have it’s own database and will just use AD (or eDirectory) for the user provisioning. This is all done through LDAP without the need to do anything within the AD environment, no need to extend the schema, no need to install something on your catalog servers. Does that sound nice?

  7. By:Jack Liu

    Dear Martin,
    I’m an Novell ZENworks customer & Partner from China. I know ZENworks history as well. Yr article impressed me so much.
    My question is: Will Brimstone support device only management
    mode as well?Just as what LANDesk does. LANDesk knows China’s market well. Customers here like more choices for their
    it resource management.

    Another question is: Will Novell’s Brimstone natively support some kind of Network Admission solutions as Cisco & MS
    provides? So far as I know, most of China’s biggest enterprises such as China Mobile, China Oil, China Gas, ICBC,
    CB, CCB have done or are looking for similiar RM solutions.

    Thanks again and hope could read yr next article soon later…

  8. Device only management is possible today with ZENworks 7 – and naturally it will be part of the Next Generation of ZENworks.

    Adding user-based management is however the key to unlocking the real value and savings from using ZENworks. That’s what all of our most successful customers keep telling us.

  9. I will be posting the second part of this article in the next couple of days. Stay tuned!

  10. […] The big thing is the Next Generation of ZENworks – I’ve blogged about that before. […]

  11. By:Will

    When will we get the next post in the series? I am looking forward to some screen shots!!

  12. By:Vojta

    Martin, nicely done blog. What are the key differences between ZEN 6.5 and 7.0, I’m looking for the main selling point to get going on it…

  13. By:Christoff

    Does anybody have a report on how many resource Zenworks use on a Desktop pc?


  14. By:Tim Wohlford

    Of course, the major coup will be if Novell sells their eDir database engine to M$, which would allow them to have the ability to run a lot more types of objects, etc. If M$ and Novell really want to exchange technology and money, the combo would put Windows servers substantially in the lead compared to most other systems.

    In fact, at one time, M$ approached Novell about licensing eDir for W2k (or so the story goes).

  15. By:Nibbik


    I’ve got a question for you; with ZENworks 7, will we be able to do some remote control over Mac OS X computers? I’ve seen somewhere that Assets Management will actually see the OS X machine on the network, but I don’t find any reference about doing some remote control over Mac computers.

    Thank you for your time.