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Linux makes inroads with Novell users

By , Network World
August 16, 2004 12:00 AM ET

Network World - Early adopters of Novell's Nterprise Linux Services say the package lets them consolidate server operating systems and offers a smooth migration path to Linux from NetWare servers.

NNLS was the first product that launched Novell full-bore into Linux. Released in December 2003, the package contains Novell's Virtual Office collaboration tool; its iFolder file management system; iPrint, which lets users print from any location; its Internet messaging package NetMail; its Web-based iManager package; Novell Resource Management, a tool for automated software management; and Novell's eDirectory. NNLS works on Red Hat or SuSE Linux.

In March, Novell announced that its next operating system - Open Enterprise Server (OES) - would incorporate NetWare and Linux kernels, letting users deploy applications on whatever platform they want. In OES, NetWare services will run on both kernels - those services include file services, clustering, print, identity, administrative, Web, patch management, health monitoring and client integration. Novell says OES will be available by year-end.

To familiarize themselves with Novell services on Linux, many users have tested the waters with NNLS, which contains components of OES. The operating system will run initially on 32-bit extension technology from Intel and 64-bit versions of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, which Novell acquired last year.

Anthony Hill, CTO for Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and Keith Rajecki, infrastructure manager at the university, have deployed NNLS and plan on upgrading to OES when it is released.

There is a fundamental reason we started looking at NNLS - we are pursuing an IT strategy based around consolidation," Hill says. "We chose Linux as the [operating system] to consolidate database applications and Web servers. When Novell announced its Linux strategy it became a very obvious way for us to go and consolidate our networking environments around Linux."

Hill, who has 14 NetWare servers and 1,000 users, considered migrating his servers from NetWare to Windows, but he saw problems with that approach.

"Had we gone with Windows, we wouldn't have achieved any economies of scale through consolidation, and it meant bringing in some competing architectures such as messaging and directory services," says Hill, who uses Novell's GroupWise, eDirectory and ZENworks management package.

Staying with NetWare wasn't a good choice for Hill either.

"Had we stayed on NetWare, we could have stayed with the Novell tools, but we wouldn't have enjoyed any economies of scale because NetWare requires dedicated staff and skill sets, and there's a relatively small number of software vendors supporting [the operating systems]," Hill says.

Hill chose to pin Golden Gate's network on Novell's OES instead.

"For us, the ability to run Novell's messaging and management tools, and consolidate that all around Linux allows us to achieve the maximum economy of scale and consolidate the enterprise from one end to the other," he says.

"Novell's strategy of providing a NetWare and Linux kernel has allowed us a smoother migration strategy," Hill says. He and Rajecki are migrating their network to NetWare 6.5 first because NetWare access controls won't be available until NNLS 2.0 is released at the beginning of next year.

"We did that only because we didn't want to have to migrate file system structures - in Linux you lose a lot of the security features that are available in NetWare, such as access controls," Rajecki says.

When NNLS 2.0 is released, "the Novell file system will be ported onto the Linux platform. Then, we are looking at taking our 14 servers from NetWare to Linux," he says.

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