That cosmic applause you hear must be the sound of many hands clapping for Z.E.N.works' narrow victory in the Network & System Management category of Datamation's 1998 Product of the Year balloting.
Zero Effort Networks, which Novell Inc., of Provo, Utah, began shipping last May, received 140 votes, or 28%, of 494 votes cast by readers for the six products nominated in that category. The desktop management software is designed to improve the productivity of users of networked Windows PCs, enhancing reliability, improving help-desk support, and making it easier and faster for users to access the full range of applications and resources on the network. The product relies on the vendor's popular Novell Directory Services (NDS). Jon Oltsik, senior analyst for computing strategies at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., says Z.E.N.works allows network administrators to manage tens of thousands of desktop systems.
The second-place finisher in this category was CONNECT:Remote from Sterling Commerce Inc., of Dallas, which garnered 122 votes, or just under 25%. Analyst Paul Mason, vice president of infrastructure research at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass., says CONNECT:Remote is ideal for companies whose mobile computer users can't do their jobs without access to critical application information.
The third-place finisher, with 84 votes, or 17%, is WebSpective from WebSpective Software Inc., of Needham, Mass. The fourth- and fifth-place products are Netcool/OMNIbus V.3.3 from Micromuse Inc., San Francisco, with 56 votes (11%), and Enterprise Profiler from CACI Products Co., in La Jolla, Calif., with 46 votes (9%).
Z.E.N.works allows for automatic software distribution from a central point, which means IT officials don't have to manually install application upgrades. Also, if a user requests application information while sitting at someone else's desktop, the product launches the nearest copy of the application, which can save time for the user and bandwidth for the organization. The software also enables network managers to diagnose and solve software-related problems from a single desktop.
Having shipped version 1.0 in May, Novell delivered Z.E.N.works 1.1 in November. The new release included a five-user version of Check 2000 from Greenwich Mean Time, in Fareham, Hampshire, U.K., a developer of Year 2000 software; software metering; support for NetWare 5; and integration with ManageWise 2.6, Novell's network- and systems-management product.
Officials at The National Cotton Council, in Memphis, Tenn., began using Z.E.N.works for software distribution when the company rolled out Office 97 from Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., to more than 100 users. "Z.E.N.works made the software distribution easy and we had no problems," says Barry Akin, the council's network administrator. Additionally, the company can use Z.E.N.works to verify files that are being replaced, he says.
The Cotton Council is interested in version 1.1 because of the Y2K-analysis feature, and the organization's officials like the new version's integration with ManageWise 2.6. "Z.E.N.works makes it easy to manage distributed applications, and a remote-control feature is good for help-desk support," says Akin. It's also helpful, he says, that when policies are implemented, they are automatically moved in to directory services so there's no need to copy new policies to new servers.
Lynn Haber reports on IT and business technology issues from Norwell, Mass. She can be reached at email@example.com.