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Dell Delivers Novell's Linux Zen

Managing both hardware and software on Dell servers is about to get a whole lot easier, thanks to a bit of Novell Zen.

Dell today is announcing Novell ZENworks 7 Linux Management –- Dell Edition, which offers the promise of being a comprehensive Linux systems management solution for Dell's PowerEdge servers.

Novell's ZENworks is certainly not a new product, and Dell has resold it in the past. ZENworks is Novell's flagship Linux systems management application; version 7 was announced at last year's BrainShare.

What's new in the Dell Edition is specific customization for Dell's hardware, enabling ZENworks to handle both hardware and software.

"What we've done is integrated the pre-OS bare metal deployment tool for Dell servers into ZEN works 7 Linux management, and we've also integrated Dell's system software patching tools into Zen works," Ed Reynolds, senior manager of Dell's systems management marketing group, told internetnews.com.

Reynolds explained that ZENworks 7 Dell Edition centralizes tasks and allows administrators to use the same console for the hardware systems software patching that they use for OS and application patching on Linux.

Though ZENworks is a Novell-developed product, it isn't specific just to Novell's SUSE Linux. According to Reynolds, it'll handle Red Hat Linux deployments, as well.

"It's not a SUSE-only management tool," Reynolds said. "It will manage SUSE, Red Hat and probably other distributions that will go unnamed at this point."

Judy Chavis, Dell's director of business development and global alliances, told internetnews.com that Red Hat currently represent 65 percent to 70 percent of Dell's Linux business, though Novell is improving quickly. Dell has a partnership in Asia with Asianux, and Chavis noted that Dell is aware of many Debian and Mandriva Linux users on Dell hardware.

In terms of how Linux users want to actually manage their systems, there is no clear consensus, according to Reynolds.

"Our research has shown that there is really no 'everybody on Linux wants to use scripts' or 'everybody on Linux wants to use a graphic interface'; everybody is kind of in between," Reynolds said.

ZENworks 7 Dell Edition satisfies the needs of both types of users.

"If you want to just write a bunch of scripts to manage your environment, and use the graphical user interface of the ZLM {ZENworks Linux Management} container to put them in, you can drag and drop scripts onto the console and use it in that way," Reynolds explained. "Or you can take advantage of the GUI capabilities."

Linux systems management is a cornerstone of Linux adoption and one of the targets of Linux competitors.

The allegation that Linux management is more expensive than Windows management was recently rebutted by an OSDL sponsored study, which found that 88 percent of survey respondents spent less effort managing Linux than Windows.