Novell's Brainshare event in Barcelona this week has been the venue for a number of product announcements.
The most important is the further development of the company's One Net architecture into the management arena with ZENworks for Desktops version 4.
ZENworks is one of the few desktop management solutions that has survived the market consolidation of the last few years and so, by default, is a market leader alongside Intel's LANdesk.
Microsoft likes to dabble in this space with SMS, but it doesn't really compete. All of the big management players have tested the waters in this market and found it too competitive and unprofitable.
The Novell announcement builds on the initiatives first trumpeted with NetWare 6. Release 4 of ZENworks for Desktops removes the need for a major Novell client component, and simply uses a small local agent to manage the desktop.
This is necessary only to ensure that management functions can continue when the user's laptop or PDA is disconnected.
And this is where it gets clever. With ZENworks, it is now possible to accidentally delete a file while disconnected and have the local environment recover it for you.
Novell has achieved this by quietly cacheing the details on your device and knowing where to go and find them when things start to go wrong.
The whole philosophy of One Net is reflected very clearly within this ZENworks release. The underlying directory infrastructure allows the requirements of individual users, devices, applications and other resources to be managed centrally.
The requirements of each session are established as a combination of policies and rules that take into account the user, the type of device and the available connection.
Therefore, a home user with a slow dial-up line sees the same as an office user with fast network. All that might change is the way in which information is delivered.
Interestingly, the download of files and applications is interruptible and can be restarted at will. This allows mobile users to grab applications when they can and to disconnect in the middle without penalty.
This is another important development for Novell, which has extended all of the usual desktop management functions out into the mobile space by using internet protocols and without any need for Novell technology on the desktop.
It is also important because businesses want it, if the applause from the 1,500 end users who witnessed the demonstration is anything to go by.
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