Novell perpetuates trend of security vendors ignoring mobile

Zenworks 11 bundle combines plenty of tools for securing and managing computers and portable drives -- but not smartphones

Novell this week rolled out a tidily bundled suite of endpoint security tools under the moniker Zenworks 11. The offering is similar to those from BigFix, Altiris, LANDesk, and the like in that it aims to give IT admins a single pane of glass with which to secure and manage user systems.

Another striking similarity: Novell, like many of its rivals, appears to be ignoring popular mobile devices, such as iPhones and Android smartphones, that are cropping up in the enterprise and exposing organizations to risks.

Zenworks 11 does cover plenty of endpoint security bases. Novell has integrated four of its products -- Configuration Management, Zenworks Asset Management, Zenworks Patch Management, and Zenworks Endpoint Security Management -- in such a way that admins can perform an array of security tasks from one product and with a single agent.

Those tasks, as the product names imply, include patch management, software-license tracking, security policy creation, and system configuration across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. The package also sports location- and device-awareness, according to Novell, meaning policies can be designed to take into account who is using a particular device (such as a high-level admin or a temp employee) and in what location (such as a public wireless network at a coffee shop or the company's secure network).

According to Novell, Zenworks 11 also includes the ability to configure Windows power management settings and to perform out-of-band power management tasks using Intel vPro.

Zenworks 11 may have an advantage over some of its rivals in that it does both Windows and Linux devices, including laptops and netbooks. It also provides security for portable drives, such as thumb drives and MP3s, that could be used to swipe large amounts of sensitive data.

Absent, however, is support of any kind for mobile platforms such as Android or iPhone. Novell isn't alone here, mind; support for popular mobile platforms in traditional client management tools has been sorely lacking -- a source of hand-wringing from IT admins who have to deal with users accessing company data from their smartphones.

Novell is not oblivious to the fact that mobile devices need to be secured and managed: The company has (had?) an offering called Zenworks Handheld Management designed to "help you to standardize, deploy, and manage software and device configurations across your entire organization." Though perhaps Novell no longer offers that product, as according to the tech spec sheet on the Novell site, it supports Palm OS 3.5 and later; Windows CE 2.11 and later; and BlackBerry 6000-, 7000-, and 8000-series devices, along with some older RIM models.

Fortunately, though, while Novell and other purveyors of endpoint security tools lag in terms of support users of iPhone, Android, and other popular mobile platform, vendors of mobile-specific management tools have stepped in.

Good Technology, for example, released iPhone and Android clients late last year, bringing BlackBerry levels of security to the platforms. Good also supports Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Palm OS and devices from all major manufacturers, including Apple, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, and Samsung. MobileIron, Sybase, Zenprise, and others support many of these as well.

Still, IT is left with two panes of glass to manage: one for desktops and one for mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Juniper Networks has an offering aimed at securing smartphones called Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite. The suite, released last October, includes antivirus, personal firewall, antispam, loss and theft prevention, and monitoring and control services for all the major mobile platforms. Moreover, according to Juniper, the suite equips admins with the ability to grant smartphone users secure access to corporate networks and sensitive applications and data.

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