Vintela, which develops software that integrates Windows and Unix environments, this week will release a tool that provides customers Windows-centric, policy-based management for clients and servers on either platform.Vintela Group Policy (VGP) extends the group policy features of Microsoft's Active Directory to Unix and Linux desktops and servers. The tool helps administrators create a consistent set of configuration policies for computers and manage those from a central console.Microsoft's group policy supports the configuration of clients and servers using Active Directory to store the policies for such tasks as file or application permissions, logon\/logoff scripts and startup\/shutdown scripts. Administrators target a set of desktops or servers, and the policies are pushed out to automatically configure the target system.VGP broadens Microsoft infrastructure to include Unix and Linux. VGP works with Vintela Authentication Services (VAS), which extends Windows authentication to Unix and Linux.Vintela also is shipping its new VAS 2.6 platform this week, which on top of support for VGP includes a new software development kit for building applications. The company also has added support for five new platforms: AIX 64-bit, AIX 5.1 and 5.2, Solaris 9 on x86 and Solaris 2.6 on SPARC."Microsoft thinks Vintela is a key answer to the interoperability questions," says John Enck, an analyst with Gartner.Those questions come from critics who say Microsoft has yet to define how Windows will work with other platforms in a distributed computing environment."The core Vintela stuff with Active Directory and Group Policy is very slick, and they've done a good job with it," Enck says. Vintela is the only vendor providing such integration technology, but he says others are on their way in the next six to eight months, although he would not elaborate.But Vintela isn't waiting for anyone to catch up. VGP is the latest piece of the Vintela Integration Architecture and the third product in the Vintela lineup."The use of group policy shows the depth of our integration," says Matt Peterson, CTO of Vintela. "Everything looks like it belongs in the Windows environment. We do everything in Unix that you would expect."VGP features three Group Policy Editor extensions that let users make any configuration changes on a Unix host for any application. VGP also includes native support for Unix conventions such as generic scripting, file copy and permissions, as well as Unix administrative controls such as sudo and cron. The software also includes configuration management controls for VAS-enabled Unix hosts including logon access control.