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Novell Extending to Windows Management

Novell has become well-known as a Linux vendor, but it has ambitions to be known as a Windows management vendor, too.

Enter Novell's ZENworks Configuration Management, released today as a multi-OS tool that enables patch, policy and endpoint security management on both Windows and Linux. The new tool also builds in technology from security vendor Senforce, which Novell acquired just yesterday. (The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.)

Richard Whitehead, director of product marketing for Novell, explained to Internetnews.com that the Senforce technology extends ZenWorks to endpoint devices. The Sendforce technology has been billed by some as a Network Access Control (NAC) type of technology, though Whitehead argued that NAC is not Novell's goal.

Management is what the new ZENworks Configuration Management product is all about. Whitehead noted that the product has been in development for a year with the first public beta released in March of this year.

"The big focus of this release is about easing the pain of deployment and management of Windows desktops," Whitehead explained. "This product is fully aware of directory services to provide near real time updates based on user identity and not just identity of the machine."

Administrators are able to set security policies across both Windows and Linux machines, while others are specific, based on the operating system. One generally applicable policy that ZENworks Configuration Management manages is who is able to remotely control a machine, which can be set -- regardless of the OS.

When it comes to more specific pieces of security policy such as SUSE Linux's AppArmor and Microsoft's UAC, both of which are user access control type of systems, Whitehead noted that the configurations are specific to the OS in question.

System management is handled via a user agent that is remotely administered. Whitehead explained that the policy work takes place on the back end server and, as such, is non-intrusive to the end user. The agent itself is an adaptive agent that can self-update.

"So there is no need for an administrator to have to go machine by machine to update," Whitehead said.

Though Novell and Microsoft have become a whole lot friendlier since last November when they signed an interoperability and patent deal, the fruits of that partnership are not yet part of ZENworks Configuration Management.

"What the agreement will allow us to do is the ability to leverage the WS-MAN standard," Whitehead said. "It's a common way of describing the management versus how it is managed. The how is still unique to Microsoft or Novell."