ZENworks for handhelds: Deal with handhelds hands-on

DQW Bureau
13 Sep 2002
New Update


Handheld devices fill the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce. As a

result, the challenges that IT organizations face are similar to the challenges

they faced before PC desktop management software was available. The key

difference today, however, is that an effective management architecture is

available and already implemented on many networks–the Novell ZENworks family

of products. By adding ZENworks for Handhelds, IT organizations now have the

tools the need to manage and support handheld devices.

Managing limited connect-time devices

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges in supporting a handheld

device is the lack of opportunity to manage it. A well-used handheld device

usually spends extended time in a briefcase or pocket and little time connected

to the network. Therefore, anytime the device is connected to the network,

ZENworks for Handhelds exchanges data and updates inventories using the device's

native synchronization software (for example, Win CE's ActiveSync or Palm's

HotSync Manager) and the ZENworks for Handhelds client.

Management Functionality

Although handheld devices are more mobile and more specialized than standard

PC desktops, these devices have the same basic management requirements as their

larger counterparts:


Software Distribution. As the network administrator, you need to be able to

install applications and new patches on a device with minimal or no information

required from the device's user.

Software Inventory. You need to determine which applications are installed on

a particular device. This feature is a necessary component for proper licensing

and enforcement of corporate standards.

Hardware Inventory. You need to determine a handheld device's CPU, memory,

disk capacity and other hardware-related items. A hardware inventory is

necessary to ensure compliance with corporate standards. In addition, a hardware

inventory allows you to distribute software only to handheld devices that can

support that software.


Reporting and Scheduling. You need to create printable reports of the

handheld devices that connect to or synchronize with workstations on the

network. You also need the ability to schedule software distributions to run in

the future.

Because ZENworks for Handhelds supports all these functions, it is a complete

management system for handheld devices including Palm, Windows CE and Pocket PC


Software distributions

If you have ever installed an application on a handheld device, you will

probably agree that the process can be tricky. Normally, the process requires

you to run an installer (such as ActiveSync or HotSync Intaller) to stage the

application for installation. The installer connects to the device and installs

the application.


The software distribution feature of ZENworks for Handhelds allows you to

automate this process, enabling you to remotely distribute applications to

handheld devices as the user connects the device to the network. Much like

ZENworks for Desktops, ZENworks for Handhelds allows you to create a software

package that you can deploy to handheld devices.

Data Distributions

Although applications are important, after applications are installed, they

do not have to be updated daily. On the other hand, users may need to change or

update the data on their handheld device every day. For example, a mortgage

broker may need to update current mortgage rates on his handheld device daily.

Using the software distribution feature of ZENworks for Handhelds, you can

transparently deliver data and files.

Targeted Distributions ZENworks for Handhelds also allows you to distribute

software based on the type of handheld device as well as the type of task the

device performs. You can group devices according to the needs of users. For

example, you could deliver up-to-date customer lists to all sales people who

have Palm OS-compatible devices.


You can also group handheld devices according to hardware. Because

applications are device-specific, you can target installations to specific

handheld devices. For example, you can configure ZENworks for Handhelds to

deploy a Windows CE application only to Windows CE devices.

Software inventory

The ZENwors for Handhelds software inventory feature allows you to better

control your company's network and ensure that you are meeting software

licensing requirements. The software inventory feature allows you to see which

applications are in use (perhaps, for widespread distributions or upgrades) as

well as how many clients actively use those applications.

For Windows CE and Pocket PC devices, the software inventory feature

identifies the following:


Application name, version and company name

The location where the files are installed (machine name, installation path)

The number of copies installed


For Palm OS-compatible handheld devices, the software inventory feature

identifies the following information:

The application, version and creator (vendor) ID

The size of the application and whether or not that application is ROM based

Hardware inventory

To properly deploy software, you need to know what kind of hardware you are

working with. You cannot deploy an application that needs 2MB of RAM on a device

that has only 1 MB available. Ideally, you should be able to identify the

handheld devices that cannot support a particular application that is targeted

for deployment.

With ZENworks for Handhelds, you can identify hardware components that are

critical in determining the capability of devices. Specifically,t he hardware

inventory feature identifies the following key hardware components:

Device type, card name and manufacturer, OS version and serial number

Amount of RAM and the amount of available RAM

Battery type, voltage and status

You can configure the hardware inventory to accurately target outdated

devices, devices that do not fit you corporate standard or devices that lack the

capability to install ad run a critical application.

Reporting and scheduling

ZENworks for Handhelds provides the infrastructure necessary for managing your

company's handheld devices. In addition to the features already mentioned,

ZENworks for Handhelds provides several other benefits.

For example, one of your mantras as a network administrator is ‘document

the system.’ ZENworks for Handhelds provides several reporting capabilities

that enable you to accurately document the handheld devices deployed on your

company's network. You can query and report on any information stored in the

ZENworks for Handhelds database.

After you create reports, you can export them to formats such as HTML, tab or

comma-delimited format, or Microsoft Excel. You can then easily share report

data or integrate that data with other applications.

You can use the ZENworks for Handhelds scheduling feature to set up specific

actions such as software distribution. A set of actions is called a job. Using a

calendar-based utility, you can define the jobs you want to run, the clients the

jobs should run on and the day (or days) and time when the tasks should run. The

monitoring and alerting feature of ZENworks for Handhelds enables you to view

the status of clients and jobs offline. Information about failed jobs, missed

jobs, job output and overall client statuss is available from a single point.