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Novell preps users for move to Linux

Mar 27, 20064 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

Outlines plan to support NetWare until at least 2015.

SALT LAKE CITY – Novell used its BrainShare conference last week to elaborate on its product migration path to Linux, and included an assurance to customers that it will support NetWare well into the next decade.

The annual event, which Novell said drew 6,000 attendees, featured a series of product announcements, including a preview of a new edition of Open Enterprise Server (OES), expected to ship in June 2007. Another new offering is Version 10 of the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, a suite of workgroup programs and software for mobile users. (For more details, see here and here)

The new edition of OES, code-named Cypress, will run NetWare on Linux only as a guest operating system under the open source XEN or VMware’s ESX Server virtualization platforms. Existing OES implementations let IT run a NetWare or Linux kernel.

Many NetWare customers say they will migrate to the Linux-based OES when a NetWare kernel is no longer available. One issue preventing them from doing so now is that Novell’s Network Storage Services (NSS) and its file permissions and access rights are not fully supported in Linux.

“We want to stay with the NSS file system, as it has numerous advantages over other options such as the [Windows NT File System] or any of the available Linux file systems,” says Chuck Perilli, a consultant in Washington, D.C., who manages seven NetWare 6.5 servers. “We are looking at the NetWare Core Protocol (NCP) on OES-Linux as an option, but our testing has shown there are still a few glitches in Novell’s implementation of NSS on Linux.”

E. Axel Larsson, enterprise integration specialist for Computing and Network Services at Drew University in Madison, N.J., runs Novell’s eDirectory and Identity Manager user provisioning product on Linux, but he voices similar concerns. “We would anticipate moving most of our current NetWare services over to Linux when Novell is able to close the performance and stability gap on file and print services between NetWare and Linux,” he says.

Jason Williams, OES product manager at Novell, says that while NCP on the Linux kernel in OES does not support the Novell Archive Server or Distributed File System junctions, the Cypress version of OES will. Those junctions allow Windows Common Internet File System clients to access a NetWare 6.5 server. Williams adds that recent tests show NSS on Linux out-performing NSS on the NetWare kernel.

Fernando Seguro, manager of systems engineering for Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn., says he is sticking with file and print services on the NetWare kernel for as long as he can.

“We are starting to migrate some services like GroupWise to Linux,” says Seguro, who has 25 NetWare 6.5 servers and 10 OES servers. “But Novell needs to continue to support NetWare until everything they make can run on the Linux kernel and is just as easy to implement.”

Bill Brush, information systems infrastructure support lead for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications at the University of Nebraska, is concerned about support for 32-bit applications.

“Although Novell says it will continue to support NetWare for at least 10 years, it’s probable that within the next five to seven years, hardware demands are going to dictate that I migrate most of my file and print services off the NetWare kernel simply because I won’t be able to find hardware that will run 32-bit code,” Brush says. “When that happens it is my expectation we’ll go with Cypress or one of its descendents.”

Brush says he is hopeful that in the next five to 10 years he can convert his office to Linux and eliminate Windows.

John Fagg, manager of storage management at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, has no such concerns about Linux.

“We will be migrating all 70 of our Netware 6.5 servers to [OES-Linux],”he says. “We had actually written Novell off a couple of years ago but when they announced that they had purchased SuSE and were moving toward Linux, we decided to stay with Novell.”