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!

31-Aug-08

So I’m heading into September, which means I have less than a month to go at MMU. For a while, it’s been a bit strange having handed in my notice but having to keep going for two months before I can move on. Often at times like this, you spend odd moments snatched away from every day life to wonder if you are doing the right thing. This is entirely human and entirely expected. I don’t think I can give MMU any more than I’ve given in the last decade, and conversely, MMU has nothing left to give me.

Thankfully other avenues exist, and it’s been surprising and flattering that I have allies in several places who rate me highly enough to have opened doors to move on. As it stands, I still believe the choice I have made to move to Salford Software is the correct one. I want a job,  not a career. I suppose it will sink in around 10am on my first day in my new job that I’m somewhere different after spending a third of my life with one employer. Sounds bad when you phrase it like that!

What else? A trip to Vienna next week for the annual pan European GUG get together. It’s an interesting time as it serves to highlight the many cultural differences between the UK and the rest of mainland Europe. For example, they are still very excited about GroupWise 8 and Teaming “PLUS” Conferencing (you aren’t allowed to say “and”, I’m told), whereas in the UK we’ve already dropped off our perches in boredom as we’ve seen the new bits for over a year now (two BrainShares in fact, get a move on!).

BrainShare was a little depressing this year after last year’s virgin effort. I had this idea that Novell needed something big to launch at the event. I don’t know how I got there, but pretty quickly I latched onto the idea of the “Magnificent Seven”. You could have a cheesy Clint-a-like come on stage in a poncho (Fistful Of Dollars era, naturally!) and take out some Microsoft looking wimp. Then I thought, what would be the seven products you could use? What about :-

– GroupWise

– Open Enterprise Server

– IDM

– Sentinel

– Teaming PLUS (for f**ks sake) Conferencing (even though I don’t rate it)

– eDirectory

– SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server

At the every least it’s a concept that attendees can identify with and get behind. I still think Novell is a good company with good technology, but they’re far too nice and have an over reliance these days on the Faustian pact with Microsoft.