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The old and new Novell Storage Services

Sep 25, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* A brief history of Novell Storage Services

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Several of you pointed out, in the wake of last week’s comments about Novell Storage Services (NSS) that I might be living in the past when it comes to NetWare and file systems. The clue, of course, might be the title of that newsletter: “Why it’s hard to praise Novell Storage Services.”

NSS was designed to be released with NetWare 6.0, and it was. But like many other new features of NetWare 6.0 (iFolder, iManager, etc.) it was also released for a patched version of NetWare 5.1. And that’s where the bulk of the problems occurred.

For that matter, a number of the other technologies released as backwards compatible with 5.1 also suffered in production environments when they were thrown in with services and applications (and patch levels) that they hadn’t encountered during Novell’s testing. The testing wasn’t very deep or broad since the company was more concerned with NetWare 6 and getting that out the door.

People took it as some sort of warning when Novell announced that a server’s SYS volume (where the directory and system files are stored) should be a traditional NetWare File System rather than an NSS volume. That may be, but there were more practical reasons.

A major reason was that Novell Directory Services (NDS, now called eDirectory) required a transaction tracking system and NSS doesn’t support TTS. Support? Actually, as a journalled file system, it doesn’t need transactions and outperforms a transaction-tracked system. Still, this set up a feeling that NSS shouldn’t be trusted with critical data. Setting up NSS on a 5.1 server also required not only partitioning of the disks but also partitioning the server’s RAM – some for NSS, some for the operating system and applications. Get it right and things were fine, but it wasn’t easy to get it right.

Add to that the fact that NSS didn’t support disk quotas and you might be wary of it but when you consider that those early systems had a nasty tendency to simply “forget” files (they weren’t deleted, but they weren’t there either) you can understand why I was less than enthusiastic about using NSS.

Still, others persevered in attempts to get it right (most of this perseverance, by the way, occurred in lab systems not in production environments) and succeeded. So much so, that with the advent of NetWare 6.5, Novell happily rolled out all-NSS servers and continued to be happy that it did. It appears that Novell has finally gotten NSS to behave in NetWare 6.5, so it does behoove you to strongly consider it when you upgrade to the new version. Old fuddy-duddies like me might want to play with it in the lab a bit longer, but it doesn’t appear you’ll be risking your livelihood to install NSS on your production 6.5 servers.