Novell to extend ZenWorks platform

Novell on Tuesday tried to take the momentum behind its recent partnership with Microsoft around platform interoperability and extend it from the operating system to the system management  level.

The company announced four additions to its ZenWorks product line from research firm Gartner Inc.’s Data Centre Management Conference in Waltham, Mass. These included ZenWorks Orchestrator, which serves as the “brain” that allows for policy-based automation, Novell ZenWorks Virtual Machine Management, ZenWorks HPC Management and ZenWorks Asset Management.

In a teleconference call, Novell general manager of systems and resource management Joe Wagner said the systems management tools are designed to deal with the added challenge of managing server sprawl. This includes enterprises involved in the consolidation of some data centre equipment into virtualized IT environments with multiple instances of an application or an OS on a single machine.

“The overall cost of the data centre and IT systems associated with it continue to increase,” he said. “Enterprises are seeking something to simplify and automate those complex environments.” 

Wagner positioned the ZenWorks releases as an early sign of the benefits of Novell’s partnership with Microsoft. Earlier this month, the two companies said they would work together to create better interoperability between Novell’s eDirectory and Microsoft’s Active Directory, “translators” between MS Office and OpenOffice and “para-virtualization” that will allow users to run Linux application workloads on top of Windows.

Systems management was another joint effort under the partnership, and ZenWorks Virtual Machine Management, for example, will allow virtualization whether running on Windows, Linux or Unix machines, Wagner said. “We will have the only heterogeneous management technology to support for everything from VMware to Microsoft to Xen virtualization environments,” in the latter case referring to an open source virtualization technology.

Novell’s Canadian ZenWorks customers include the City of Brampton, which chose ZenWorks 3.0 several years ago to help manage about 900 workstations running Windows 2000 professional. Jack Marsman, Brampton’s manager of infrastructure and client support, said it was too early to say whether Novell’s partnership with Microsoft will lead to any further investments in its ZenWorks deployment.

“We haven’t done anything with ZenWorks in a long time,” he said. “It’s still running, it’s still working. We haven’t looked at any other system management products.”

Wagner emphasized the features in ZenWorks Orchestrator, which he said will automate policy enforcement around IT resources based on resource identities. It will also pre-position workloads based on history and resource optimization.

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