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Nterprise Branch Office covers more territory

Jan 13, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Novell releases Nterprise Branch Server Version 2

Some of you (heck, most of you, I’d wager) may have heard this story before, but it does illustrate how far we’ve come. Back in the mid-1980s I was IT manager for an organization with a headquarters and 25 branch offices. When one of the branch office servers (each had a NetWare server, Versions 1.0 through 2.15) fell over, I jumped in my car and drove up to four hours to get it back on the straight and narrow. Upgrading a server in the branch meant camping out for a couple of days for NetWare installation, hardware setup, software and file restore. My, how things have changed.

About a year ago I extolled the virtues of Novell Nterprise Branch Office, a software “appliance” that turned installing, maintaining and restoring a branch office server into a routine, almost no-brainer, operation. Version 2 is now shipping. It includes a few new wrinkles but the best news is that it’s even easier to install and yet covers a lot more network territory. What does that mean?  Read on.

Version 1 required a NetWare server at the “headquarters” location to handle communications with the branch office server. The new version eliminates that need. Nterprise Branch Office now works with Windows servers (Windows 2000 or newer) and Linux hosts (Red Hat Advanced Server 2.1 or later, or SuSE Enterprise 8.1 or later). While the use of a Linux host does require the installation of eDirectory, in a pure Windows environment you could be using eDirectory – or Active Directory (talk about living on the edge). Nterprise Branch Office will use standard Lightweight Directory Access Protocol calls to sync its local eDirectory tree with the Active Directory installation at HQ – and no one will notice anything different.

Version 1’s installation program allowed you to specify a script that would be read to set individual parameters (IP address, for example) for the branch office server when it was installed. For even easier installation, Version 2 of Nterprise Branch Office includes a new utility (MakeISO), which will create a CD image file you can ship to the branch office. So now you can include any server based files (or entire applications – like anti-virus packages) on the installation media you send to the remote site. A one-page instruction sheet should allow anyone at the branch office to insert the CD and do the actual installation. Once the basics are done, you can connect to the server over the Internet for any finishing touches that are needed.

Version 2 continues to provide a NetWare version of Rsync, the open-source synchronization utility (, which allows you to do almost continual, incremental backups of the data from the branch to the HQ (on a NetWare, Windows or Linux platform). A restore can be done over the Internet, or the synchronized files can be used to setup a new replacement server (bigger drives, more RAM, whatever needs to change over time) that you then ship out to the branch.

Once it’s plugged in and performed a quick restore of the changes Rsync has picked up while it was in transit, it’s ready to go. One big change with version 2 is that it now correctly tracks file system trustee assignments without any human intervention. New with this version is the “Virtual Office” technology from NetWare 6.5 as well as a fully functional GroupWise post office should GW be the collaboration software you use.

This looks to be a winner, you should check on it ( to see if it would help you. I know I sure could have used it 20 years ago.