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Life is full of tough choices. Wouldn't it be nice if, once in awhile, a few of them were fun? Like your business offers you a company car, and you get to choose between a Ferrari Spider and a Lamborghini Diablo. Or maybe your rich uncle decides to gift you an all-expense- paid vacation to your destination of choice.

Unfortunately, in the IT world your choices aren't quite that fun, but they can be just as difficult. For example, you've been running GroupWise flawlessly on NetWare for several years, but you wonder if it's time to consider moving to Linux. Perhaps you're getting pressure from management to evaluate Windows Vista. Or maybe you want to take advantage of higher performing hardware along with the server consolidation and virtualization capabilities provided in Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, but you're not sure whether to consolidate on NetWare, Linux or both.

Novell GroupWise is all about giving you the choice and flexibility you need to meet your business objectives, including giving you the option to run your GroupWise servers on NetWare, Windows or Linux.

The good news is that Novell GroupWise is all about giving you the choice and flexibility you need to meet your business objectives, including giving you the option to run your GroupWise servers on NetWare, Windows or Linux. (See More Choices.)

While you're evaluating server options, there are a lot of solid reasons for taking a serious look at what Linux has to offer. When Novell IS&T moved the company's GroupWise servers from NetWare to Linux (see Migrating GroupWise to Open Enterprise Server on Linux), the following are just a few of the things they noticed:

  • Improved operating system stability
  • Application crashes didn't affect server or other applications
  • Better application fault handling and recovery
  • Faster, more automated GroupWise agent restarts
  • No database corruptions with agent crashes and minimal database corruption resulting from hardware or power failures

These same benefits, and considerably more, should be expected if you're moving from Windows to Linux. Of course one of the other benefits of moving from Windows to Linux is you'll leave behind the considerably higher hardware requirements and licensing costs that Windows servers demand.

Free Support and Training

Novell offers a free 20-hour Web-based training course to help you bridge your NetWare skills to Novell Open Enterprise Server for Linux. Read the details on this offer.

Also, if you own, purchase or upgrade to Novell Open Enterprise Server before June 30, 2007, you can download a free copy of the fiveday Integrating Novell Open Enterprise Server for Linux course. If you have maintenance, you can also take advantage of 90 days of free, unlimited Novell Open Enterprise Server support to help you deploy the product with confidence.

> Linux—Free and Easy
Perhaps the nicest advantage of running GroupWise on Linux is that you get Linux free. As a GroupWise 7 customer, you automatically receive an entitlement to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 that lets you deploy the Linux platform on as many servers as needed to host your GroupWise services.

But even with all the advantages that Linux has to offer, some of you hesitate to look at it because it's unfamiliar territory. Perhaps most of your training has been in the NetWare and Windows world, and you still have the misperception that Linux is difficult to learn. The truth is: Linux isn't rocket science. Most of the expertise you already have can be easily transitioned to the Linux world with just a little training. To make sure you get the training you need, Novell offers some free classes on Linux. (See Free Support and Training.)

GroupWise 7 customers automatically receive an entitlement to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 that allows them to deploy the Linux platform on as many servers as needed to host their GroupWise services.

When you do decide to make the move, Novell simplifies the process with its free GroupWise Server Migration Utility. The utility will transfer your GroupWise agents, domains, post offices and data from either a NetWare or Windows server to your new Linux server. To share firsthand experience and tips and tricks, Novell IS&T Engineer Steve Whitehouse has written two Novell Connection articles on using the utility. (See "Migrating GroupWise to Open Enterprise Server on Linux" and "EZ: Migrating Your Stuff to Linux using the GroupWise Server Migration Utility")

> Server Options
When you move your GroupWise system to Linux, you'll need to decide what Linux offering makes the most sense for your organization: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on its own, or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as part of Novell Open Enterprise Server. On its own, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server provides an enterprise-quality server that has been designed to handle mission-critical applications. It comes with Xen Hypervisor for server virtualization, AppArmor for strong application security, and a comprehensive array of Web infrastructure tools and services. With Novell Open Enterprise Server you get all of that, plus all the Novell networking services you've come to love and trust, such as eDirectory, Novell Identity Manager, iPrint, iManager and file services based on the Novell identity infrastructure.

You'll also need to choose which Linux file system to use for your GroupWise server. Both Novell IS&T and the GroupWise engineering team recommend Reiser, citing higher levels of performance for the collaboration server over both ext3 and NSS. Some Novell partners favor ext3 in their GroupWise on Linux deployments. The advanced features of NSS are not leveraged by GroupWise and can thus add unnecessary overhead, but NSS does provide easier migration from NetWare environments that have SAN storage.

> High-Availability Collaboration
Some of the most frequent questions asked by Novell customers planning a GroupWise migration to Linux deal with setting up clusters. If you're deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 on its own, you'll be using Heartbeat 2, an industry-proven clustering solution developed by the open source community as part of the High-Availability Linux Project. Novell has been an active contributor to this project, and Heartbeat 2 is included in the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 distribution. Heartbeat 2 can handle up to 16 cluster nodes.

GroupWise can run on Reiser, ext3, or NSS Linux file systems

If you deploy Linux as part of Novell Open Enterprise Server, you can choose to take advantage of Heartbeat 2, but Novell Cluster Services is usually the favored choice. Novell Cluster Services is a 32-node clustering solution developed by Novell that has been enabled for eDirectory and has richer failover services than comparable open source solutions. Novell Cluster Services supports both Linux and NetWare and allows you to manage SANs and clusters remotely, pool free disk space to improve efficiency, and dynamically configure clusters and storage volumes without rebooting (depending on the file system being used). It also enables you to take advantage of Novell Business Continuity Clustering to automate management of site-to-site failovers.

> GroupWise and Novell Cluster Services
For the September 2005 issue of Novell Connection magazine, I wrote an article on planning and setting up a GroupWise cluster in a Novell Open Enterprise Server Linux environment. (See "Nuts About Clusters") The article provides insights on high-availability design considerations, configuration parameters for Novell Cluster Services, failover and failback concepts, enabling high availability in YaST, enabling the GroupWise Monitor and general Novell Cluster Services requirements. It also covers GroupWise clustering-specific requirements, but many of those have changed due to updates in GroupWise. So, I'll address those here.

First of all, make sure you have GroupWise 7 with at least Support Pack 1 and Novell Open Enterprise Server with Support Pack 2. In GroupWise Support Pack 1, the Novell engineering team enhanced the GroupWise installation to make it even easier to implement clustering. To take advantage of these enhancements, simply choose the Install to a Cluster option during setup. (see figure 1.)

In GroupWise Support Pack 1, the Novell engineering team enhanced the GroupWise installation to make it even easier to implement clustering.

A nice benefit of the Install to Cluster option is its ability to store your Post Office Agents, Message Transfer Agents, GroupWise Internet Agent, Messenger Agents, agent configuration files and log files in your GroupWise cluster resource. This eliminates the need to install every agent—and the agent startup file—on each cluster node. It also keeps the log files from being spread across all the nodes in the cluster. Administratively, it just makes things simpler.

Another advantage of the Install to Cluster option is that it exclusively binds the GroupWise agents to the cluster resource's assigned secondary IP address. The secondary IP address is used to identify the partition for the GroupWise cluster resource, and it floats with the resource from cluster node to cluster node when a failover or failback occurs.

Also be aware of the following few other configuration considerations:

  • GroupWise and Novell Cluster Services can run on NSS, ext3 or Reiser file systems. But if you want to migrate an existing cluster from NetWare to Linux, use NSS because NetWare clusters require NSS. If you're using Reiser or ext3, manually create your new cluster resource using iManager. It's recommended that you use a generic IP template since it already provides the proper syntax to mount a file system, load a secondary IP address, and start and stop services.
  • GroupWise must be configured in Client/Server mode. GroupWise will not failover or failback in a cluster environment unless it is using Client/Server mode.
  • Install all of your GroupWise agents into your Linux clusters from a single and writable software distribution directory.
  • This allows your agent configuration files to be easily accessible by the cluster resource's GroupWise High Availability configuration file.
  • All domain links must be TCP/IP, not file path.
  • Once GroupWise is installed and configured to run in a cluster environment, create and configure a GroupWise resource in Novell Cluster Services. This includes configuring GroupWise load and unload scripts; setting GroupWise Start, Failover and Failback modes; and assigning the GroupWise resource to specific nodes in the cluster.

Heartbeat 2 is an industry-proven clustering solution developed by the open source community as part of the High-Availability Linux Project

For more details on implementing GroupWise clusters on Novell Open Enterprise Server, refer to the GroupWise 7 Interoperability Guide.

> GroupWise and Heartbeat 2
Clustering with Heartbeat 2 on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is newly supported in GroupWise 7 Support Pack 2. To set up GroupWise clusters with Heartbeat 2, first use the YaST interface to install Heartbeat 2 on each Linux node that will participate in your cluster. Then configure the failover paths for those nodes. Once your heartbeat clusters are set up, use the Heartbeat Management GUI found in /usr/lib/heartbeat/haclient.py to create a GroupWise resource group and add it to the cluster.

 

A resource group is simply a set of resources that need to be running on the same node and need to be started and stopped in a set order. Your GroupWise resource group will typically include at least the following three resources:

  • An IP address resource that will add the secondary IP address to the node
  • A file system resource to mount the file system on the shared storage device that holds the GroupWise database
  • One or more GroupWise resources

To add the GroupWise resource group to your cluster, perform the following steps from the Heartbeat Management GUI:

  1. First, create a group for your cluster resources by highlighting Resources and clicking the + icon on the menu toolbar to add a new item. When the Type of New Item dialog appears, choose Group from the pull-down menu.
  2. To add an IP address resource to this newly created group, highlight the newly created group and click the + icon on the menu toolbar. When the Type of New Item dialog appears, choose Native from the pull-down menu. When the Add Native Resource dialog appears, enter an appropriate name for In GroupWise Support Pack 1, the Novell engineering team enhanced the GroupWise installation to make it even easier to implement clustering. the new resource in the Resource ID field. (see figure 2.)
  3. From the Belong to Group pull-down menu, select the name of the newly created group.
  4. In the Type field, choose IPaddr (ocf/heartbeat).
  5. In the Parameters field, set the name to ip and enter the desired IP address.
  6. Click the Add button.
  7. To add the file system resource to the new group, repeat step 2, but with the following changes to the Add Native Resource dialog:
    • In the Type field, choose Filesystem (ocf/heartbeat).
    • In the Parameters field, set the name to fstype and choose the appropriate file system, such as reiserfs or ext3, from the Value field.
  8. To add the GroupWise resource or resources to the new group, repeat step 2 again, but with the following changes to the Add Native Resource dialog:
    • In the Type field, choose GroupWise (ocf/Novell).
    • In the Parameters field, set the name to object_name and choose the object name that corresponds to the agent to be managed, such as PostOffice.Domain, from the Value field.
    • Repeat step 4 for each GroupWise resource that needs to be added.

That's pretty much all there is to adding GroupWise resources to your Heartbeat 2 cluster, but be aware of the following few other points:

  • To use the Heartbeat Management GUI, give the user "hacluster" a password on each node where you will be using the GUI.
  • The first time you start your new group, you will have to start each resource individually by highlighting the resource and then clicking Start Resource. Be sure to start the resources in the following order: IP address resource, file system resource and GroupWise resource.
  • Heartbeat has support for application restart, but to enable it, add a monitor operation to the GroupWise agent resource and set its time interval to the frequency with which you want GroupWise polled.
  • The described configuration assumes an Active/Passive cluster mode. In this mode you won't want the resources to automatically fail back when a node comes back online after a failure. Be aware that by default it will fail back. To disable this behavior, add the resource_stickiness attribute to the resource group with a value of INFINITY.

> An Easy Choice
Your rich uncle probably won't care if you move your GroupWise servers to Linux. But you never know...giving your company the added advantage of running those rich collaboration services on a more reliable platform, in a highly available clustered environment and at a significantly lower cost, might be just what you need to score the company car you always dreamed of. Maybe there are such things as easy choices in the IT world.

Parkview Health System

Indiana-based Parkview Heath System, a NetWare customer for several years, recently moved their GroupWise servers to a clustered Linux environment on Novell Open Enterprise Server. The health care organization took a measured approach to the transition, first creating a new Linux infrastructure within their existing GroupWise system, and then gradually moving users to the services provided there. Jason Todd, Technology Services Specialist at Parkview, says of the move, "Without disrupting service to our 8,000 users, we were able to consolidate our six GroupWise servers running in a NetWare 6.0 cluster to a two-node OES Linux cluster. As a result, we've simplified our infrastructure, reduced administrative expense and ensured continuity for our mission-critical services."


More Choices

In addition to running your GroupWise backend services on Linux, you also have the choice to run your GroupWise client on Linux. To sweeten that choice even more, Novell will greatly improve usability with an update to the GroupWise Linux client later this year. (See figure 3.)

Some key new features include group labels, a navigation bar, categories by color, discussion threads and perhaps the most anticipated new update: the ability to turn GroupWise into a personal productivity dashboard with the enhanced Home View feature.


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