Novell has released a new version of its Zenworks PC management suite, consolidating separate applications through a new unified administrative console, and adding a range of features including awareness of the end user's identity and location.
The goal is to make distinct PC management functions – managing PC assets, security, configuration and patches – part of a single interface, instead of separate applications. By adding identity and location, Zenworks can associate a range of enterprise policies, permissions and provisionings to end users when they login via the PC-based Zenworks client.
The company has also released a new product, Novell Service Desk, an application for managing help desk incidents, based on the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework.
Previously, the components of Zenworks had separate Web interfaces. With the 11.0 release, there's now a single administrative interface for these PC management and security tasks. The desktop and laptop computers now download a single Zenworks agent. Handheld mobile devices are still handled by a separate application, Zenworks Handheld Management.
With the addition of identity support, Zenworks can automatically provision end users with the applications, privileges, settings and even their display "wallpaper" preference when they log in. If users move to different physical devices, Zenworks carries these settings to the new device automatically.
The new location awareness means Zenworks now can detect when a user is logging in from outside the secure corporate network, and provision access and security policies, and permissions based on that location. An employee who logs in using a home PC and a slow network connection while visiting his parents, for example, might as a consequence use corporate Microsoft Office applications via the Web or via a virtual machine.
With 11.0, administrators can now configure the Windows power management settings.
Also with this release, Zenworks now integrates Linux (in addition to Windows) client and server management, instead of having this as a separate application.
Novell's chief PC management rivals include LANdesk, Altiris, and Microsoft. Novell says its key differences are support for more than one operating system (at desktop and server), and now the new identity and location awareness features.
There is no change in Zenworks pricing, which is still priced per device or per user for each of the Zenworks applications. Novell offers bundle pricing, reducing these total costs.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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