Novell ZENworks Configuration Management 11 Standard Edition review

We test the latest version of the best known network management suite to see how it stacks up.

23 Feb, 2011
ex VAT
Novell ZENworks is easy to use, integrates well with Active Directory and makes it possible to do an awful lot of management and support without ever leaving your desk. You'll only really need it if you have a big network, so there's no getting around its high cost.

For such a sprawling program, Novell ZENworks was surprisingly easy to install. We reviewed the standard edition of the network management suite, rather than the Enterprise or Advanced versions. Nevertheless even this version has asset discovery and management tools, server and workstation configuration, software deployment, support and troubleshooting tools, OS imaging and extensive reporting. It also integrates with Novell’s patch management and endpoint security applications. With so many features, we fully expected it to be a right old pain to get working.

However, once we’d setup the firewall with the right exceptions and made the necessary DNS entries, all we really had to do was run the install file. The program uses an SQL database to store object attributes; so to maximise security and performance, we didn’t want to install it on the domain controller. Instead, we stuck it on a Windows 2003 server which we joined to a Windows 2008 test domain.

Once we had the network’s DNS server properly configured (with the Novell ZENworks server assigned a static IP) device discovery, using either an IP or LDAP scan, was a snip. When our list of devices was complete, we created a new deployment task, selected those devices we wanted to manage and pushed the Zen Adaptive Agent out to them. The agent is the client software, which applies the settings you configure on the server.

To apply settings, you need something to apply them to: devices and users. The network discovery scans already took care of the devices. For the users, you need to create or – preferably – import a user source. Importing users from Active Directory was easy – just point ZENworks to the container where your user accounts are stored and give it authentication details with the right privileges.


Server System Requirements

Operating System: Windows Server 2003 (SP1)/Windows Server 2008 (SP1)/Windows Server 2008 R2/SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 10/Novell Open Enterprise Server 2/ Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.6 or later

Processor: Pentium 4 2.8GHz (or equivalent) or faster

Memory: 4GB RAM

Hard disk: 5GB free disk space