Last issue, I introduced the new features of NetWare 6.5 (a.k.a. "Nakoma") which are gathered together under the heading "Business Continuity." Generally, these are the features most useful to you and your department as opposed to the general user population. Today we'll peek into the Branch Office Manager.Novell's Nterprise Branch Office was released for NetWare 6.0 late last year. Also known as Branch Office Manager (with the acronym BOMA, for some reason), Nterprise Branch Office is dubbed a "software appliance." Set it up on a hardware platform in your office then ship it out to a remote site with instructions on how to plug it in and everything "just works."One of the hidden costs associated with maintaining a single network for a far-flung enterprise is the need for constant high-speed links so that the directory can be kept synchronized. BOMA takes advantage of eDirectory's "filtered replication" technology to keep a cached copy of local users and resources available. Only if the object can't be found locally will the directory tree need to be walked back to your central site saving lots of communication costs. This also allows "autoprovisioning" for mobile users who happen to be visiting the branch office.Another feature in BOMA is the open source archival utility called Rsync. This utility allows you to do incremental backups from the branch office to a central site over the Internet. Rsync handles change determination, flow control and timing issues so that there's little disruption to the network servers and the almost constant presence of a fully archived version of the branch office files, folders and resources.Couple this with add-on utilities such as Novell's ZENworks line (especially ZENworks for Desktops and ZENworks for Servers) that periodically and automatically update and maintain the branch office servers and user desktops, and you might never have to visit the branch again! Not bad, especially if the branch is in, say Dubuque. Of course, I'm sure you could still find reasons to visit the branch in Paris.Nterprise Branch Office carried a price tag of $2,500 when it was introduced last fall. Now it's being included in NetWare 6.5 (although the full licensing details aren't quite settled). If you were considering BOMA as a way to save you time and effort, then the upgrade to NetWare 6.5 should be a no-brainer - it's likely to be a lot less expensive than buying Nterprise Branch Office licenses.But wait, there's more. Come back next week and we'll look at other network manager benefits to NetWare 6.5.