29-Jan-09

First post of 2009! The new job is going well, certainly learning a lot of new things, especially where Novell’s ZENworks Configuration Management is concerned. I thought now might be a good moment to impart some of the things I’ve picked up over the last four months as I think I probably get 90% of the ZCM traffic that comes through Technical Support here.

Firstly, if you’re a ZEN7 shop and you’re wondering, should I upgrade? The answer takes many different facets, and each situation is totally different. I think you have to analyse your business drivers first and then wrap the technology around that as it fits best.

My first question would be – what’s the motivator to upgrade? If you are a ZEN7 shop with Windows XP with no plans to move from XP any time in the near future, my advice would be to stay as you are. Why? Well as Windows 7 has been brought forward considerably by the relative failure of Windows Vista, in many cases there is no pressing need to support Windows Vista workstations in the enterprise. If you take a look at Novell’s Support Lifecycle page for ZENworks, you will see that ZEN7 is supported until the end of August 2010 and then stays in Extended Support until the end of August 2012. What do these support phases mean? The short answer is that regular support is just that – service requests against the product by Novell, bug fixes, security releases, new TIDs, service packs etc.

Extended Support is what is available for customers on the higher level support plans, generally where you have PSEs or ASEs on your account. If you have Premium Support, you can continue to raise SRs and get defect fixes until the end of the Extended Support phase. So if you’re in this category, you needn’t worry too much about moving to ZCM until perhaps early 2011, which is a good two years off.

On the other hand, ZCM has not had the best of starts. From it’s release up until Christmas last year, there seemed to be a major release of bug fixes every month. It’s quite a departure from what you’re used to with “traditional” ZENworks, and I would strongly recommend attending any courses you can get on the product before you even throw it up in the lab for testing. There are many major differences from “traditional” ZENworks, including :-

– ZCM content repository for applications and content

– ZCM holds all configuration information in a backend SQL database (Sybase by default, NO MySQL support as yet)

– ZCM can operate in a “pure” Microsoft AD environment (as some customers already do)

– Much of the ZEN nomenclature changes – we now talk of “bundles”, “content servers”, “deployment stages” and “baselines”

I hope to write further postings as we go along to help current “traditional” ZEN customers decide when and if ZCM is suitable, but for now, this is a good start!

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