Novell released Zero Effort Networks (ZENworks) 2 in June. ZENworks 2 includes additions to and improvements on version 1.1, such as Lights-out Distribution. This feature lets you deliver software installations to workstations when users aren't logged on. You can schedule the distribution to take place after hours. This process saves time for users because they don't have to wait for each distribution process to run. ZENworks 2 performs the entire distribution process, including copying files and modifying text files, .ini files, and Registry settings. ZENworks 2 doesn't modify user-specific settings, however. The Application Launcher performs these modifications when users log on to the ZENworks 2 server.

ZENworks 2 can automatically check for predefined criteria before software installation because of Dynamic Criteria-based Distribution, which goes beyond relying strictly on information stored in the database to check for workstation criteria. ZENworks 2 checks certain software and hardware items to ensure successful software installation. These items include available hard disk space, processor types, filenames, dates, and Registry keys that include language versions. ZENworks 2 distributes new versions of applications to workstations by checking the date or time of the existing application files on the workstation. You can flag the distribution for users as Prompt Before Distribution. This flag prompts ZENworks 2 to inform the user how long the distribution may take and what the distribution will do. The user can then permit or decline the software distribution. Declining the distribution will cancel the launch until the next scheduled distribution time.

Because ZENworks 2 is integrated with Novell Directory Services (NDS), you can create custom desktop policies to distribute across the network. This process lets you deliver the same desktop to users at every workstation. You can also create an exclusionary policy that restricts a user to using only certain workstations. Such exclusionary policies can help provide network security and efficiency.

Novell expanded the Inventory feature to include software inventory. The Inventory feature supports Desktop Management Interface (DMI) 2.0 as well as ODBC-compliant databases, so you can easily access hardware and software inventory data.

Novell has also enhanced troubleshooting with features such as workstation diagnostics and chat, remote control of users' machines, and remote file transfer, and the ability to view recreated errors on remote consoles and execute applications on a target workstation. For security, ZENworks 2 provides a rights policy that specifies which administrators can control which users' machines remotely.

The company has also added a few new features to the Help Desk utility. Administrators can configure the trouble ticket to include specific information. Also, users can view workstation hardware information and add it to the trouble ticket to help with problem resolution.

The ZENworks Reporting component now includes reports showing software installation successes and failures. This component also shows predefined software and hardware inventory reports.

With ZENworks 2, you get desktop virus protection in the form of Network Associates' McAfee VirusScan. Your virus scan package includes 6 months' worth of signature and virus updates. You can choose from two signature download options. Backweb client sites (i.e., Internet servers that use push technology to send you software updates) can automatically push signatures down to you when the signatures become available. Alternatively, the Backweb site can notify you when signatures become available, and you can download the updates manually.

ZENworks 2
Contact: Novell * 888-321-4272
Web: http://www.novell.com
Price: $59 per user
System Requirements:
Server:
486/33 processor or better
intraNetWare
NetWare 4.11 or later, 24 MB of RAM with Windows NT, 16 MB of RAM with Windows 9x, 8 MB of RAM with Windows 3.1x, and 32 MB of RAM with NetWare server
15 MB of hard disk space with NT, Win9x, and Windows 3.1x; 125 MB of hard disk space with NetWare server
NetWare 5 Platforms:
NT Workstation, Win9x, or Windows 3.1x