Ever since the introduction of Novell shipped version 1 in 1998, ZENworks has been an innovative platform for managing enterprise devices. The original data paradigm was user-based management using eDirectory as the core database. On this platform Novell created one of the most respected toolsets for application distribution, policy management and imaging.
A complete redesign followed the acquisition of Tally Systems in 2005 and the reintroduced ZENworks 10 that arrived in 2008 included a device-centric database. User-based management was in no way diminished, but enhanced with a powerful hardware/software inventory, discovery for all IP-attached devices, and flexible reporting options. Incremental updates that followed added patch management, endpoint security management and full disk encryption.
Now with ZENworks 2017, first released in January, we have the integration of a previously stand-alone mobile device solution, providing “single pane of glass” management for nearly all devices in the enterprise.
Clearly the headline feature in ZENworks 2017 is the integration of mobile device management into the core ZENworks management console. Now you can distribute software, gather inventory, enforce policies, and manage security for your iOS, Android and ActiveSync mobile devices. Essentially, everything you can do for desktops and laptops can now be managed for mobile devices.
Do you license ZENworks on a per-user basis? Then you can start managing up to five total devices per user without the need for additional licenses. Do you use the Apple Volume Purchasing Program? ZENworks 2017 integrates with VPP and allows you to distribute covered software with the associated licenses.
Other new features include:
- The ZENworks User Application replaces Novell Application Launcher and/or ZENworks Application Window – whichever you’re used to – with an updated, brandable, easier to use interface. (ZAPP will be available for Macintoshes in future updates.)
- Steam-lined and enhanced System Update feature to make product updates easier.
- New inventory engine that scans faster and generates better software usage data
- A myriad of “under the hood” improvements that boost overall application performance
- Expanded browser support for the web console – with the removal of browser plugins for special tasks, just about any browser should work your day-to-day ZENworks tasks.
Upgrading to ZENworks 2017
The upgrade to ZENworks 2017 is relatively straight forward with a typical media-based installation and, as of this writing, one patch to be added. Managing the distribution of upgraded agent software is still simple and non-invasive, with the ability to perform the upgrade and delay any necessary reboot until a more convenient time.
Of greater interest for upgrade planning are requirements for the underlying server operating system or database server. In an effort to manage the testing matrix, Micro Focus has been pruning back the list of server OS and DBMS variants supported with each release. For ZENworks 2017, Windows servers are limited to 2012 and 2016 variants and SLES servers to the more recent service packs for SLES 11 and 12. External database support is moving forward similarly with recent versions of MS SQL and Oracle. New with this release is experimental support for PostgreSQL 9.5.4, following a trend in other Micro Focus products to add this support.