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Novell Delivers New Software Distribution Tool for Intranets and Corporate Networks

Articles and Tips: article

01 Jun 1997

Novell has introduced a new product that lowers the cost of operating corporate networks and intranets by making it easier than ever for administrators to distribute software programs to users across a network. The Novell Application Launcher (NAL) version 2.0 integrates with Novell Directory Services (NDS ), the industry's most powerful and widely used directory service, to automate the software distribution process and manage user access to applications without the need for time-consuming scripts or expensive third-party tools.

Beginning in May, 1997, NAL 2.0 will be available free of charge via the World Wide Web to all customers of Novell's NetWare and IntranetWare , the world's best-selling network operating system, and ManageWise, the award- winning network management solution. NAL 2.0 expands on these solutions that reduce total cost of ownership and management of a mixed network environment by increasing network efficiency, reducing operating costs, and leveraging network investments.

"Centralized software distribution allows us to keep our users up-to-date with new applications in a more timely manner than we currently can," said Dan Brunner, systems programmer and network engineer with Administrative Computing Services at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. "Using NAL, I believe the overall cost savings will be over $100,000 a year. We won't need to hire more technicians and will cut down considerably on overtime pay. We no longer have to go to each individual desktop and spend a couple of hours installing and configuring software."

Brunner is responsible for administering a computing environment that includes about 40 NetWare servers 14 of which serve the entire campus with the rest acting as departmental file and print servers with approximately 3,000 Windows 95 and Windows 3.11 clients.

"Because we have integrated software distribution and management with the directory, we will significantly reduce the time organizations spend maintaining their applications," said Marc Epstein, vice president of Novell's Management Products Division. "This product is another example of how Novell continues to simplify and streamline network management processes for our customers. The Novell Application Launcher also builds on Novell's line of products for integrating Microsoft Windows NT, allowing administrators to easily manage NT users and their access to applications and servers within IntranetWare and NetWare environments."

How Novell Application Launcher 2.0 Works In a February, 1996 total cost of ownership report, Gartner Group estimated that a company with 2,000 PCs can easily spend $1 million each year on minimal software application updates. Novell believes Application Launcher 2.0 can help reduce that cost. It eases network management by leveraging the proven capabilities of NDS to automate the software distribution process and managing user access to applications on the network.

Not only does the Novell Application Launcher eliminate the need for physically installing software on each networked desktop, it relies on NDS user information to automate software distribution to one user or an entire group of users through a simple drag-and-drop process. Unlike other software distribution solutions, NAL eliminates the need to buy additional tools or spend hours writing tedious scripts.

NAL also offers network administrators a choice to either push applications onto the end-user's desktop or to make the installation easily available so the end-user can pull the software to their desktop. By using NDS as a foundation, access to files and directories are controlled and the entire process remains secure.

Eliminating the time-intensive task of manual distribution also increases productivity for users, as they can work uninterrupted while new applications are being added. Additionally, a special graphical user interface (GUI) enables users to view which network applications they can access, so they can avoid making unnecessary calls to their help desk. Because Network applications are managed through NDS, they're automatically linked to users allowing them to "follow" users around the network. So, no matter where they log in, users always see the same set of network applications, whether they're working remotely or roaming the corporate campus.

Novell Application Launcher delivers advanced software distribution capabilities through several key product features including:

  • The ability to modify registries and .INI files, enabling network managers to distribute software to a wide variety of client configurations, including Windows 3.1x, Windows 95 and Windows NT desktops, and allowing organizations to leverage existing network investments.

  • Pre-configured installation templates for popular applications, which silently and automatically run install programs as specified and scheduled by administrators.

  • Snapshot templates, which give administrators the ability to easily generate automated installation templates for custom applications. These templates let administrators create customized packages of target applications and any associated files without writing complicated scripts.

  • Scheduled delivery, which allows administrators to schedule software distribution for off-peak hours. Systems that are not turned on at night will load software upon booting up the following morning, or portable systems will update the next time they are connected to the network.

  • Streamlined set-up of target distribution lists for packages. Administrators can create software distribution lists through NDS user and group selections.

  • An auto-correct capability that reduces unnecessary calls to the help desk and reduces user down time due to application problems by detecting and correcting corrupted or accidentally deleted program files, .DLL files, or other startup files.

Novell Application Launcher fully integrates with IntranetWare and NetWare 4.x servers and snaps into NetWare Administrator (NWAdmin), allowing network managers to distribute software and administer user access to applications from a single interface. In addition, Novell Application Launcher can scale to support networks of 100 users to networks of more than 100,000 users. NWAdmin works with ManageWise to provide complete network and systems management capabilities to today's network manager.

Pricing and Availability The Novell Application Launcher will be available free of charge on Novell's World Wide Web site ( in May 1997. This free offer will extend through October 31, 1997. In addition, the Novell Application Launcher will be available on the next Novell Windows NT Integration CD, available in May of 1997. Go to the Novell World Wide Web site ( for more details.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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