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NDS for Solaris: An Overview

Articles and Tips: article

01 May 1999

NDS is the leading network directory for Solaris, NetWare, and NT users alike. This article explains how extending the benefits of NDS to the Solaris platform, NDS for Solaris improves your network and simplifies administration in many ways.


Novell Directory Services (NDS) is the leading network directory for Solaris, NetWare, and NT users alike. By extending the benefits of NDS to the Solaris platform, NDS for Solaris improves your network and simplifies administration in many ways.

Improve user experience and productivity NDS for Solaris helps you deploy Solaris applications by reducing the costs of Solaris server management. Now, any UNIX application running on Solaris that takes advantage of the operating system security is automatically integrated with NDS security, enabling a single password to network resources and applications.

Adapt quickly to organizational and technological change In essence, NDS enables multiple systems to run as if they were designed to work together. An example of this is how NDS for Solaris simplifies access to the network by allowing users to log in to both NetWare and Solaris servers with the same username and password.

Organizational change is continuous. So you need NDS to provide a simple way to create users, connect them with network resources and manage their access. Then you can move them anywhere in your organization or remove them quickly through simple functions with the mouse.

As a Year 2000 Ready Novell solution, you can count on NDS for Solaris to work in the year 2000 and beyond.

Maximize IT staff efficiency By integrating Solaris servers under the NDS umbrella, you achieve a single point of administration for the network, eliminating redundancy. NDS provides a simplified and distributed way to administer users for mission-critical applications scaling across your entire network. There is only one user object to create and manage, so a simple point-and-click provides access to resources across the network, on multiple operating systems and networking devices.

Integrate Solaris workgroups with NT and NetWare networks NDS is the world's leading network directory, and with good reason. It's the only directory service that addresses all aspects of a network spanning major hardware and software components, enabling single password, providing single point of administration, and laying a foundation for developers to build upon using their tools of choice.

NDS for Solaris Simplifies Complex Networks

At Northern Illinois University, the 30,000 faculty, staff, and students who use the computer network daily have such widely disparate needs that, according to David Gersic, a systems programmer in the university's information systems department, "We use everything: NetWare, Solaris, Windows NT, plus other flavors of UNIX and a mainframe. We even have an old VAX machine."

In its heterogeneity and complexity, the Northern Illinois network resembles the network at most large organizations. The university's network administrators and users also face the same critical problem how to manage multiple directory services.

Users have to login twice and remember two separate passwords, and administrators have to spend extra time maintaining passwords and access privileges on different platforms.

"There's no good reason for that," says Gersic. "Having multiple directory services"synchronizing and securing them, logging in more than once"all of that wastes time, costs extra money, and increases the chances of security breaches and errors."

The Cross-Platform Directory Now Supports Solaris

What Northern Illinois needs what the entire networking industry needs is a single directory service that can communicate and synchronize with all the different platforms and applications. Although that goal is far from reality, Novell is bringing the industry closer than ever with its cross-platform directory, Novell Directory Services (NDS).

In 1994, Novell introduced NDS as part of NetWare 4. It quickly became and remains the world's most widely used network directory.

"NDS is the only directory service that addresses all aspects of a network"spanning major hardware and software components, enabling single password, providing single point of administration, and laying a foundation for developers to build upon by using their tools of choice," says Michael Simpson, director of marketing for Novell. "That's part of the reason more than 40 million people use NDS. Another reason is that we have extended NDS beyond the NetWare platform to deliver its value to even more users and network managers."

In 1997, Novell released NDS for NT, allowing the management of complex NT domains. Now Novell is taking the directory to the most popular UNIX platform with its brand-new product, NDS for Solaris.

NDS for Everything

Northern Illinois was a beta site for NDS for Solaris. "Although we use many different operating systems," says Gersic, "NDS is our central directory for security, authentication, and access privileges. Plus it's tied into our registration system so that when students signs up for a class, they automatically receive rights to all the services associated with that class."

Because Sun's Solaris runs the E-mail application used by about 12,000 people at the university, NDS for Solaris can allow the administrative staff to integrate Solaris systems with NDS.

"I couldn't even begin to estimate the number of hours we could save with a solution like this," says Gersic. "It's confusing for most users to have to deal with multiple logins, and all that can go away. The support staff can get fewer calls for help, and our network administrators can spend less time synchronizing directories and more time on more valuable tasks."

Gersic says his hope is simple: "I want NDS for everything."

How NDS for Solaris Works

NDS for Solaris allows the network user administration to scale in relation to an organization's Solaris application needs. Sun SPARCstations running Solaris are noted for their high vertical scalability in delivering mission-critical applications and Web services from a single server to many users. NDS provides a simplified and distributed way to administer users for these applications that scale across your entire network. There is only one user object to create and manage, so a simple point-and-click gives the user access to resources across the network, on multiple operating systems and networking devices.

"Because NDS runs seamlessly in the background, most users will never know that NDS for Solaris is on the network," says Paul Corriveau, NDS product marketing manager at Novell. "What administrators will notice is that they have more time to perform tasks that improve the network and business process instead of responding to repetitive support calls."

By decreasing support calls, improving user access to the network, and decreasing the cost of owning and operating a network, NDS for Solaris can benefit everyone from the end-user in the mailroom to the most cost-conscious CEO.

Customers with existing licenses for NetWare 4, or NetWare 5 can download matching server licenses of NDS for Solaris at no charge. For more information, including technical requirements, visit the NDS for Solaris home page.

NDS: The Directory for the Enterprise

NDS for NT and NDS for Solaris aren't the only platform-based NDS solutions. Already, NDS is available for IBM's AIX, Caldera's Linux, and The Santa Cruz Operation's UNIX, and Novell continues to work with other operating system vendors to bring NDS integration to even more enterprise platforms.

"Our phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from companies wanting to integrate their products with NDS," says Simpson. "Those calls are the direct result of customers who are demanding NDS integration wherever possible."

Novell is also developing NDS-enabled applications that deliver the benefits of a directory to the end-user. Novell's uses the directory to simplify desktop administration, and more products are in the works at Novell and at third-party developers.

Furthermore, working with hardware vendors such as Cisco Systems, Lucent Technologies, Nortel/Bay Networks, and others, Novell is also bringing the power of NDS to switches and routers. Such partnerships could eventually lead to NDS integration with devices such as PBXs, voice-fax-video gateways, and voicemail systems helping drive IT costs even lower.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is NDS for Solaris?

A. NDS for Solaris gives Novell and Sun enterprise customers a unified directory service from which to manage users and their access to mission critical applications. By extending its directory expertise to Solaris, Novell makes mixed networks easier to manage and provides easy access to network resources. NDS for Solaris eases network access by allowing users to log into NetWare, NT and Solaris networks with the same password and user name. In addition, it maximizes IT efficiency by enabling network administrators to manage users, groups and access to multiple network applications from any location and across multiple platforms.

Q. Aside from Solaris, what other platforms support NDS?

A. NDS in now available on all server platforms including: NetWare 4 and 5, Microsoft NT, IBM OS/390 (to ship in Q2), IBM AIX, and Linux.

Q. What percentage of the server market does NDS now reach?

A. Based on IDC statistics for 1998 server operating environments (12/98; Jean Bozman), NDS now reaches a potential audience of about 65% of the server market.

Q. Which version of Solaris does NDS for Solaris support?

A. NDS for Solaris supports Solaris 2.6 (SPARC version).

Q. When will NDS support Solaris 7?

A. NDS for Solaris was not thoroughly tested with Solaris 7, but it should interoperate with Sun's newest version of Solaris. NDS will be tested with and will support Solaris 7 in future releases.

Q. What percentage UNIX customers use Solaris?

A. The most recent IDC report (12/98; Jean Bozman) covering server operating environments license shipments showed 51.1 percent growth for Solaris SPARC servers in 1998. In 1997 Sun shipped 92,000 Solaris SPARC servers or 12.6 percent share of the UNIX market. In 1998 Sun shipped 139,000 Solaris SPARC servers or 18.6 percent share of the UNIX market.

Q. With NDS for Solaris, how many and what type of applications can now leverage NDS?

A. There are more applications for Solaris than for any other brand of UNIX. There are over 7,000 independent ISVs developing for Solaris and over 12,000 applications that run on Solaris, according to a report in Network World on April 27, 1998. The most popular applications in Solaris environments are mission-critical applications such as database and data mining applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, and a large number of custom applications in education, engineering, research, financial, and military environments. Any of these applications that leverage the UNIX Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM) framework APIs for login services (i.e., login, rologin, and telnet) can now use NDS to manage access to UNIX applications on Solaris.

Q. What markets open up for Novell as a result of NDS for Solaris?

A. Solaris is a popular operating system in the enterprise space, and has a strong presence in mission-critical computing environments. With NDS for Solaris, any market that requires 24x7 uptime from both its server operating environment and directory services can benefit from NDS' stability and performance. We believe that the ISPs, telcos, and other large service providers that use NDS to manage their Solaris systems will not only benefit from the current offering, but will also benefit from other directory-enabled services that Novell will be tailoring for the Solaris market. These services include desktop management, application distribution, policy-based management, collaboration, network management, caching, authentication, single-sign on, and PKI services, and more. All of these services will be available to NDS for Solaris users this year.

Q. Is this the first version of NDS for Solaris? Why is it called version 2.0?

A. This is the first version of NDS for Solaris. It is called version 2.0 because it provides the same features and benefits as offered in the recently release NDS for NT 2.0 mainly the ability to both redirect Solaris to NDS as well as to store an NDS replica on a Solaris system. NDS for Solaris versions 1.0 and 2.0 were developed concurrently, so we decided to roll both versions into a single release.

Q. Does Novell have a partnership with Sun regarding NDS for Solaris 2.0?

A. No, Novell developed NDS for Solaris and Novell will sell it. Since Novell and Sun share many of the same customers, both companies are interested in satisfying customer needs today. Both Novell and Sun believe that open directory services supporting the LDAP standard, such as NDS, will become mission-critical.

Q. How does Sun intend to support NDS for Solaris?

A. Although NDS for Solaris is a Novell product, Sun is pleased Novell has decided to extend its directory service to their leading UNIX platform. Sun supports Novell's efforts to make Solaris more manageable and accessible. Both companies are exploring ways to work together to solve our customers' needs. At a minimum, you can expect to see information about NDS for Solaris on Sun's Web site.

Q. Was there a beta of NDS for Solaris 2.0? Can I get names of some beta testers?

A. Yes, it was a closed beta. Please contact Carrie Merritt at (650) 858-3788 for beta references who are able to speak to the press.

Q. How much does NDS for Solaris cost?

A. NDS for Solaris 2.0 pricing is the same as pricing for NDS for NT 2.0, with two separate licensing components: a server license and a per-user connection license. Each Solaris server that stores an NDS replica requires a server license for $695. Each user license is $26. Owners of NetWare 4.x and NetWare 5 may obtain matching licenses for Solaris servers storing NDS replicas at no charge. Customers who qualify for this promotion can download NDS for Solaris from the Novell Web site at To order or for more information, customers may contact an authorized Novell reseller or call at (888) 321-4272 in the U.S. and Canada or (801) 228-4272 worldwide.

Q. Is there an evaluation copy of NDS for Solaris 2.0 available? If so, how can I obtain it?

A. The evaluation or trial version can be downloaded from the "Free Downloads" section on the Novell home page or from the NDS for Solaris product Web site at

Q. Is NDS for Solaris Year 2000 ready?

A. Yes, all Novell products released since 1998 are Y2K ready. In fact, all NDS-enabled products and services are Y2K ready.

Q. Does NDS for Solaris support a pure IP solution?

A. Yes. NDS for Solaris is intended to be deployed in TCP/IP networks with a mixture of Solaris and NetWare 5 servers. In fact, this product uses the TCP/IP protocol exclusively and cannot replicate over IPX without at least one NetWare 5 server somewhere in the network.

Q. What new features will be in future versions of NDS for Solaris? When will the next version be available?

A. As with all future products, our plans may be subject to change. We cannot comment on when the next version will be available.

Q. Does NDS for Solaris compromise Solaris security?

A. NDS for Solaris does not compromise Solaris security in any way. Because everything is stored in one directory and we provide a single password, security is increased and user difficulties are decreased while working with the network. In fact, NDS for Solaris extends the security of the Solaris system. Since users in NDS have only one identity (for all platforms), if an administrator locks a user account, the user's NT, NetWare, and Solaris accounts are all locked. A single identity for users makes intruder detection and password protection powerful.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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