For a "dot 5" product, Novell Storage Manager 2.5 is surprisingly rich in new features and enhancements. In fact, anyone who has worked with previous versions of Novell Storage Manager or the originally-named "File System Factory," will probably be impressed right from the start with the completely new and easier-to-use user interface (more on that later).
But first, a little bit about Novell Storage Manager itself. Novell Storage Manager automates storage management tasks that are normally done manually, using identity and policies stored in the directory (Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory). For example, when a user is created in eDirectory, Novell Storage Manager can automatically create the home directory, provision it with documents, set the disk quota, and set access rights based on the user’s role.
Novell Storage Manager can enforce disk storage quota, perform file "grooming" by deleting files that are not supposed to be stored on a network drive (such as .mov or.mp3 files), re-associate storage to a renamed user, direct file migrations between servers, and automate file archiving, deletion, and forwarding of storage when a user leaves an organization.
If you’re continuing to manage user and collaborative file-based storage manually, maybe the new features and enhancements summarized below will get you to join the hundreds of Novell customers automating their storage management through Novell Storage Manager.
Expanded Linux Support
In version 2.0 Novell Storage Manager could manage storage on NSS volumes on Novell Open Enterprise Servers running SUSE Linux. With version 2.5, Event Monitors can be hosted on servers running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Novell Open Enterprise Server (OES) running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Agents (known previously as "Sentinels") can now be hosted on Novell OES 2 running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. New supported file types include OES 2, ext2/3 and Reiser if you have the NCP extension.
Collaborative Storage Enhancements
Rather than first having to first create a Group object in eDirectory, an administrator can now create collaborative storage based on the Organizational Unit (OU) object itself. Novell Storage Manager 2.5 also extends its powerful file vaulting and grooming capabilities to collaborative storage. Now, you only need to set collaborative storage vaulting policies for aged files and unallowable file types and just like user file vaulting, these files will be moved to a vault location on less expensive hardware or deleted altogether. Finally, network administrators that are in the process of consolidating servers will appreciate Novell Storage Manager 2.5’s ability to migrate collaborative storage by simply changing the storage location path within the collaborative storage policy.
Novell Storage Manager 2.5 includes new "Action Objects" APIs to enable the automation of very distinct storage actions outside of what is practical with Novell Storage Manager policies. Action Objects enable specific actions in coordination with other applications that manage through Novell eDirectory or LDAP. One such example is Novell Identity Manager.
Bob Stumpp, a consultant with EOS Systems had never worked with Novell Storage Manager but had worked extensively with Novell Identity Manager for four years. He was intrigued by what he had heard about the capabilities of even better integration between the two products through the Novell Storage Manager Action Objects, so he enrolled in Novell Storage Manager 2.5 training in December. He was impressed by what he learned. "The Action Objects worked great with Novell Identity Manager," Stumpp remarked. "More and more of our customers are looking to tie storage into identity management and integration through Action Objects is a great opportunity for upselling either product," added Stumpp.
Auxiliary User Storage is an enhancement that was also added at the request of many Novell Storage Manager enterprise customers. It allows administrators to create a policy in eDirectory that creates auxiliary storage folders when a new user is created. This auxiliary storage can even be invisible to the user for whom it was created. There is no limit to the number of auxiliary folders that can be created. Auxiliary folders can be created in volumes that differ from the location of the user's home directory.
Michael Tracy, a Systems Engineer at LDS Business College and a Novell Storage Manager 2.0 administrator got an early look at Auxiliary Storage during Novell ATT Live training in December. Tracy writes: "For our faculty we maintain 3 separate folder locations and with Version 2, I've only been able to manage one of those locations. Being able to manage multiple folders with version 2.5 is something I'm really looking forward to. It will make managing the faculty accounts and their files a lot easier for me. There are of course other enhancements with the new version that I'm sure I'll take advantage of but managing multiple folders really caught my attention."
Novell Storage Manager 2.5 features a fresh new NSMAdmin interface. Icons and dialogs have all been given an updated look. Additionally, the interface has been redesigned to be easier to use. For example, where an administrator had to previously perform certain tasks through multiple steps in NSMAdmin, many of these steps can now be addressed through a single form. In addition, a Quick Links tab lets you place and access your most frequently used management options.
"The new interface simplifies administration quite a bit," remarks EOS Systems consultant Rob Monson. "I thought the previous interface was easy-to-use, but I found that using Version 2.5 was even simpler to use and let me do things much faster" added Monson.
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A completely new NWAdmin interface with page tabs, quick access icons, drop-down menus, and more, make administrative tasks easier to perform.
A series of interviews with IDC analysts brought about this enhancement. IDC noted the difficulty of locating and restoring archived data following a disaster—either a global or a personal disaster.
Specifically, the ability to locate, recover, and properly restore user files after they have been archived, and perhaps moved among various storage devices over time.
As a result of these conversations, Novell Storage Manager 2.5 includes a new "Custodian" feature that maintains a history of file movements in the Novell Storage Manager catalog. Similar to a building custodian that comes in (normally after business hours) to perform regular cleanup and maintenance tasks, the Custodian updates the catalog with time-based data recording. This means that if needed, archived files and folders can be easily located and restored with to the original user’s access rights.
The Custodian also gathers and presents an extensive amount of analytical summaries pertaining to file system data in a Novell eDirectory-managed network. In fact, once you launch NSMAdmin, you are presented some of this analytical data in the main screen. Analytical information is available covering the distribution of data per server or volume, the distribution of disk space quota between user and collaborative storage, the number of orphaned home directories, percentage of managed versus unmanaged storage, historical time lines and much more.
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Some examples of what can be reported through Novell Storage Manager 2.5’s graphical analytics.
Software Appliance Installation Option
New to Novell Storage Manager 2.5 is the ability to install the product as a "software appliance." This means that the Storage Manager Engine can be installed on a Windows*, Linux* or any other VMWare*-based host. This installation option makes the deployment not only more efficient and smaller, but it eliminates the need for a Novell NetWare server or Novell Open Enterprise Server running Virtual NetWare as the host for the Engine.
The new Path Analysis feature helps ensure compliance by allowing administrators to browse down a file path from any server and volume to a particular folder and perform an analysis of both access rights through either direct assignment or inherited rights through both the file system and directory services. Path Analysis can also report file types that are being stored in a folder and all subfolders based on file extension. For example, by selecting a home folder, you can easily see the number of .MP3, .MOV, .JPG, etc., files the user is storing on the network.
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Path Analysis can quickly and easily show who has access rights to a particular directory.
Disclaimer: As with everything else at Cool Solutions, this content is definitely not supported by Novell (so don't even think of calling Support if you try something and it blows up).
It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test, test, test before you do anything drastic with it.