ZENworks Patch Management
Strengths: A solid patch management solution that scales nicely. Centralised web-based administration
Weaknesses: Installation is slightly picky
Verdict: Overall a strong offering in the patch management space. Recommended
ZENworks Patch Management helps to analyse endpoints and deploy patches across multiple different platforms in an enterprise. It is available as a standalone patch management product or as part of the ZENworks Configuration Management suite.
Installation could be perceived as slightly picky, as it requires a very clean instance of Windows 2003 (no fixes beyond SP2 can be applied at the time of installation). The product uses Microsoft SQL Server as its backend and 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 it.
Overall, the performance of the product has a very professional feel to it. All of the administrative tasks are organised through menus located both at the top and bottom of the interface. It may be easy to miss some of the dynamic menu options at the bottom as the tabs are so small.
Novell categorises issues into: vulnerabilities, an indicator of which fixes are available to you; and 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 minimise reboots.
There is a wealth of administrative options that provides very flexible control over analysis and patch deployment across any type of group in an organisation. 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 less laconic. Novell's support site is outstanding 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, winning it our Recommended award.