Five Steps to Better Implementation of Group Policies in ZENworks

By Donna Moyer

Are you gearing up to deploy group policies in ZENworks? Or do you want to get a better handle on your current deployment? Here are five best practices that can speed up and streamline your implementation process:

Step One
Establish a test environment. There used to be so many reasons not to establish a test environment … no time, no hardware, no resources. Fortunately, with today’s advances in the realms of both hardware and software, it is no longer as resource- and time-intensive to establish a test lab. You no longer need multiple pieces of hardware to set up a lab – all you need is a single laptop using VMware images. VMware also saves you time by providing you with the capability to take a snapshot of your current test environment in case you need to go back. That way, if you have a real problem you won’t need to re-work the whole environment. You can also save time by using great references like Rob Baastiaansen’s book Rob’s Guide to Using VMware, available online at

Step Two
Document your changes. Use a template such as those available on Novell’s Cool Solutions to document changes as you make them. Ideally, use two workstations, side by side: one as your administration workstation, and one as your documentation workstation. As you change settings in the group policy, document each setting change. By documenting your test lab settings, you can then refer to the document when deploying the changes in production. Having accurate documentation also allows you to track down issues quickly, since you will know exactly what you have deployed.

Step Three
Employ test users in both the test and production environments. Have test users for each user type in your organization, i.e., staff, students, administrators, teachers, etc. Set these individuals up in both the test and production environments: this gives you the opportunity to test all settings in both environments prior to deploying changes globally. As an added benefit, thorough testing gives you and your staff a chance to experience the technology from the end user’s point of view, which can be extremely helpful for future troubleshooting calls. One word of warning: be sure to change passwords regularly for test users in the production environment or disable them entirely to avoid accidental or inappropriate logons.

Step Four
Test under extreme conditions. When you test, be ruthless. Remember, you’re testing application and workstation functionality with the new policy settings – you want to make absolutely sure everything is working smoothly. Therefore, you may even want to ask one of your more cooperative users to try to cause a problem. Many times when we test, we see that the application runs and we think that the job is done. Then the settings are deployed and they wreak havoc with the more advanced features of the application.

Step Five
Start slowly. It is natural to want lock-down to be as tight as possible when deploying group policies. However, turning off absolutely everything when you get into the editor can lead to unexpected and negative results that are difficult to resolve. Instead, decide exactly what you want to accomplish, i.e., limit access to control panel, network neighborhood, etc. Then, test and deploy only a small group of settings at one time, making additional changes as necessary. Following these simple steps will help greatly in managing your current implementation and in deploying new group policies.

© Copyright 2008, Uptime NetManagement, Inc.

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About the Author:
Donna Moyer is Principal/Senior Network Consultant of Uptime NetManagement, Inc. ( Uptime is a Novell Gold Solutions partner providing technology solutions, customized training, and consulting services. If you are interested in finding out exactly what Novell can do for your business, or are seeking to maximize the benefits from your current Novell systems, call us today at 610-621-1244!