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A Step in the Right Direction: Novell Nterprise Linux Services

Articles and Tips: article

Kevin Ryan

01 Mar 2004

I considered several things when deciding where to bank: What services are available? How can I access them? Is there only one or are there many convenient locations? Is there free checking? A high minimum balance? What advanced services are there? Can I pay bills online? How secure are they? Does the bank have a good track record? Are others moving to it or leaving it? Who backs it up? Is it insured? What will be my total cost? Do they really want to serve me or just take my money?

Choice is one of the major attractions that lures companies into the Linux world. And although banking may be a different vertical market than yours, these questions can be applied to your computer world too. You've probably even had to address some of those same concerns about the operating systems you employ in your enterprise: What services are available? How can I access them? Are advanced services available? How secure are they? Are people moving to the platform or are they leaving it? What is the total cost of ownership? You get the idea...

Since its inception, Linux has been building momentum with more emphasis on available services and the security of those services.

Enter Novell Nterprise Linux Services. This offering from Novell fills the gap between expectation and reality for Linux end users, administrators and developers and convincingly addresses all of those concerns. As an added benefit, these feature-rich services lower the barriers to adopting Linux for small business and enterprise customers alike. "Many third parties have developed a variety of open source Linux services," said Hugo Parra, product manager for NetWare and Novell Nterprise Linux Services, "but that's a double-edged sword. Because there are so many to choose from, the services often lack the integration and consistency in features, as well as the look and feel that users have come to expect."

For example, a person could use one interface to log on to his company's network at headquarters and a completely different interface in a remote office. Novell Nterprise Linux Services not only eliminates the frustration and retraining required in such cases, but provides the improved features, consistency and integration end users want.

Novell, known for its pioneering role in developing next-generation networking services, has ported its expertise to the Linux environment. The result: a suite of high-performance, customerdriven services, from file access and printing to collaboration and calendaring. "With Novell Nterprise Linux Services," continued Parra, "users can move from office to office and be productive the moment they touch the keyboard. Novell Nterprise Linux Services delivers a uniform and therefore satisfying experience time after time. The services scale not only across machines but across an entire organization no matter how geographically dispersed it may be."

Easier Access to Services

Novell Nterprise Linux Services runs on Novell SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other leading distributions. As part of the Novell cross-platform strategy, Novell Nterprise Linux Services works seamlessly with eDirectory, which provides the foundation for all Linux services. "eDirectory is the fabric that pulls all the services together," explained Parra. "It's the base upon which the enterprise- and eDirectory-aware Novell Nterprise Linux Services services run. Together, eDirectory and Novell Nterprise Linux Services ensure end users have a consistent, hassle-free experience when using Linux."

Finding a network printer in a large enterprise, for instance, can be an ordeal. Typically, users would have to contact an administrator to assign them rights and tell them the printer location, IP address or URL path, and which driver to load on their workstation. The Novell iPrint service eliminates these problems. With iPrint, a user can sit at any workstation in the enterprise and, using any browser, browse to a map that shows all the printers on the network, click on the nearest one and then print to it. It literally is that easy.

Virtual Office makes the user experience even more convenient. By combining open source technologies, eDirectory-based identity management and other Novell services, Virtual Office provides custom portals on a single screen that lets users easily and securely access files, print documents or collaborate with colleagues. "The demand for Linux will be driven, in large part, by end users," said Parra. "By providing the services and the comfortable, familiar experience they have grown to expect and appreciate, we will make the transition to Linux transparent for them and speed its adoption."

Click and Drag Network Management

Novell Nterprise Linux Services is also making life for Linux network administrators more relaxed and trouble free. Before, administrators had to manage servers separately. "Each machine was an island unto itself as far as identity, authentication and management of services were concerned," said Richard Jones, product manager for storage and clustering. "Administering servers was a very time-consuming process. But Novell Nterprise Linux Services has changed that." eDirectory and Novell Nterprise Linux Services bring the distributed computing knowledge and infrastructure of Novell to the Linux world. These services allow administrators to manage machines across the Linux enterprise from a single console. Now administrators can be assigned different levels of responsibility and securely authenticate and manage all of their network components. They can also perform their duties from any Web browser, anywhere in the world. "Novell provides that level of access and security," continued Jones, "because our customers specifically asked for it. If there's an emergency and the administrator is out of town, he can log on from any PC with Internet access and resolve the problem."

Scale Administrators

Novell Nterprise Linux Services has also eliminated text-based command-line headaches for Linux administrators by including GUI administration tools. While companies are attracted by the low cost of entry associated with Linux, administrative costs can climb due to the time-intensive nature of text commands. "An administrator must remember dozens of line executions," noted Jim Abbott, product manager for NetWare and Novell Nterprise Linux Services. "In many ways, it's similar to working in a DOS environment." Command-line switches, which are the detailed subsets of a command, add yet another level of difficulty and frustration. If administrators must use 40 command lines and each one has a dozen or more switches, they suddenly have a huge number of configurations to remember, which will take a lot of time to implement in text mode.

In addition, because many text-based utilities are built by different open-source communities, each one will have a different look and feel. "Administrators are forced to master a variety of interfaces," said Abbott, "which again slows productivity. Most Linux server events also must be configured manually. For example, if an administrator wants to automate a process so it occurs at boot-up, he would have to use a run-level editor and build it by hand."

iManager which are mature, full-featured GUI tools which allow administrators to quickly and easily manage enterprise resources by clicking and dragging. "Novell Nterprise Linux Services increases productivity exponentially and can significantly lower overhead costs," according to Jones. Novell Nterprise Linux Services effectively frees up your admin resources to solve other strategic problems in the enterprise (such as how to keep those other insecure platforms up and running) or to address other strategic IT needs in the enterprise.

"If, for instance, you have 200 servers and 5,000 users in a non- Novell Nterprise Linux Services Linux environment, you'll need approximately 100 administrators to manage it. With Novell Nterprise Linux Services, you can manage the same network with ten administrators. A customer once told me that a big value associated with Novell Nterprise Linux Services is that it allows a company to scale its administrators. In a classic, non-distributed Linux infrastructure, one administrator might be able to manage 30 or 40 end users and two servers. But add Novell Nterprise Linux Services, and that one administrator can scale to manage between 400 and 1,000 users and 50 to 200 servers and services. So besides making the administrators' experience with Linux user-friendly, Novell Nterprise Linux Services makes Linux much more cost-effective for any size business."

More Development Tools

The open source world of Linux has created, in a relatively short time, a rich environment for application developers. Novell Nterprise Linux Services tools like Apache, MySQL, PHP and Pearl permit developers to quickly and easily produce custom applications. "There are literally thousands of open source components built using PHP and Pearl that now run on Linux and NetWare," said Abbott. "In contrast, if you develop in the Windows environment, you lock yourself into that operating system. On the other hand, any application developed with an Novell Nterprise Linux Services tool will run on SUSE LINUX, NetWare, Red Hat, Solaris, UNIX, AIX and even some older IBM mainframes." That's cross-platform flexibility that developers don't have with every other OS on the market.

Currently, developers can use APIs for iFolder, iPrint, Virtual Office and other services to extend the functionality of those components. To make the developer's Linux experience even more user friendly, Novell is creating an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which will include a full set of drag-and-drop tools to create applications. Besides being able to plug a number of different views for Java, PHP and Pearl into their programs, developers will also have access to various types of online help. If, for example, a developer wants to know how to integrate eDirectory through the help desk, IDE will provide online code walk-throughs and sample code.

"It's all about giving back to the open source community," said Abbott. "Novell is doing its part to enhance the Linux experience by developing products like Novell Nterprise Linux Services. We have a large number of mature infrastructure elements, developed over many years on NetWare, that now make Linux an even more viable option for the enterprise."

So now ask yourself the banking questions I listed at the beginning of the article and just apply them to your admin job: Yes, people are flocking to Linux. It's cheaper in the long run than other options, and now you can have those advanced network services on Linux that you can't live without on Windows and NetWare. You can access them from anywhere you want because they're as secure as it gets. The answer is Novell Nterprise Linux Services from the company that wrote the book on networking. And best of all: there's no minimum balance!

* Originally published in Novell Connection Magazine


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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