Novell ZENworks Patch Management
Strengths: A solid patch management solution that scales nicely for any size environment; centralized web-based administration.
Weaknesses: Installation needs a very specific and clean instance of Windows 2003; documentation could be a bit more robust.
Verdict: Overall, a strong offering in the patch management space. We recognize this product as our Recommended product this month.
SummaryNovell ZENworks Patch Management is a solution that helps to analyze endpoints and deploy patches across multiple platforms in an enterprise. The solution is available as a standalone patch management product or available as part of the ZENworks Configuration Management suite.
Installation could be perceived as slightly picky as it requires a very clean instance Windows 2003 (no fixes beyond SP2 can be applied at the time of installation). The product uses Microsoft SQL Server as its backend, and, as part of the installation, it installs several additional components. We encountered a small problem with this detail, but once we had it installed, we were impressed with the web-based interface and how easy it was to centrally administer.
Overall performance of the tool has a very professional feel to it. All of the administrative tasks are organized through menus located both at the top and bottom of the interface. However, it may be easy to miss some of the dynamic menu options at the bottom because of how small the tabs are.
Novell categorizes issues into "vulnerabilities," which fixes are available, as well as "packages," which are the groupings of patches to deploy to the enterprise. The solution is agent-based and Novell pre-tests the patches and enumerates dependencies in order to minimize reboots for large enterprise environments. There is a wealth of administrative options that provide very flexible control over analysis and patch deployment across any group in your organization. A shortcoming we did notice was with auto-discovery and push of agents. This requires a separate installation program - natively and out of the box, agents must be pulled from the server.
Documentation is adequate, although the help file could be a bit more robust. Novell's support site is outstanding, however, and offers many different support features for its clients and prospects. Overall, we found that Novell's solution represents a great value for many different-sized enterprises.