Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 simplifying application installation, delivery and management

Novell hopes its ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 will make it easier for organizations to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7 as well as install, deliver and update applications. The company faces strong challenges from Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Intel and AppZero, however.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Justin Strong, Novell's Senior Global Product Marketing Manager, and Andy Philp, Novell's Senior Product Manager for ZENworks, stopped by to introduce Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization 9. Before we got too involved in the enhancements and features in this new release, I wanted to hear Novell's definition of "application virtualization." I was pleased to learn that Novell and I use a similar definition.

What is application virtualization?

Application virtualization can be quite confusing because client-side application is all about application isolation and encapsulation to make application installation, updating and migration much easier.

Server-side application virtualization starts there and goes on to provide workload management for encapsulated applications. As requests for encapsulated applications increase the workload management capabilities distribute the requests to the application instances based upon the availability of host resources.

Novell's ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 is only offering client-side application virtualization capabilities. Furthermore, the product is focused on encapsulating Windows applications for delivery to Windows host environments.

What's new?

Here's what Novell has to say about ZENworks Application Virtualization 9:

The latest release leverages a unique approach to application harvesting that enables enterprise IT staff to tap into a library of trusted resources and find the best stored version to build the necessary virtual application dynamically. By harvesting work that has already been done, IT users can scan a target endpoint and quickly build a set of needed virtual applications, saving time and ensuring quality.

ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 includes access to a large number of pre-built templates for building virtual applications based upon tested and optimized application configurations.  These Web-based Templates provide IT administrators with access to a central repository that includes the most up-to-date versions of common applications. Building applications using templates greatly reduces the manual labor necessary to configure virtual applications, while Web-based access eliminates the need to upgrade the version of ZENworks Application Virtualization each time an application needs to be updated, reducing IT labor and costs.

Additional customer benefits of Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 include:

  • Offline Streaming Support – Novell provides the fastest adaptive application streaming in the industry and now offers the ability for streaming applications to be executed without a persistent web connection.
  • “Juke-Boxing” – Reducing the time and hassle associated with downloading multiple sub-products that aren’t being used in an enterprise, “Juke-Boxing” affords the ability to launch individual products from within a single application stream for suite applications.
  • Application Control – Ensuring IT can maintain compliance with its license agreements, portable virtualized applications can now be configured to only execute for users who meet defined criteria, such as Microsoft Active Directory membership or if the device is being managed by ZENworks.

Snapshot Analysis

It's been quite some time since I last had a chance to speak with a Novell representative The last time was just prior to Novell's acquisition by Attachmate and being broken up into the following business units.

  • Novell kept the core of what the company was prior to embarking on the journey into being a supplier of Linux. That is this business unit that owns GroupWise (collaboration and productivity software), ZENworks (endpoint management) and the Netware file/print operating system.
  • NetIQ took the the data center management, identity and security products.
  • SUSE took the Linux desktop, server, virtual machine software and cloud computing infrastructure products.

My quick analysis is that Novell's application virtualization messages are clean and simple. The technology appears to have most of the features end user organizations would want. Novell has made the process of encapsulation straightforward through the use of templates and the creation and maintenance of a database of images, Novell, by the way, is calling this "Juke-boxing." My main concern, however, has little to do with the product itself.

Novell, as a brand, has slipped quite a bit in the past few years while Novell's competitors in this area, Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, Intel and AppZero, have continued to pound out their messages. These competitors have been busy enhancing the capabilities of their products and have spent a great deal in building strong brand images.

So, regardless of the quaility and design of Novell's software, the company faces significant challenges. The most important of them is simply being heard by potential customers.

That being said, IT decision makers would be well advised to evaluate what ZENworks Application Virtualization 9 could do to simplify migrating applications from Windows XP to Windows 7, installation and delivery of applications to remote PCs and delivery of application updates to PCs.

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