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AFP and CIFS Protocol Support in OES 2 Support Pack 1

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Later this year, Novell intends to release the first support pack for Novell Open Enterprise Server 2. As you talk to those involved with it, they’ll tell you that the primary objectives of this support pack are to enable even greater interoperability and simplicity. The interoperability objective manifests itself in the addition of protocol support for Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) and Common Internet File System (CIFS).
(See Figure 1.)

AFP and CIFS are network protocols that provide native network file services for Mac OS and Windows clients, respectively. While NetWare has long provided AFP and CIFS support as part of its Native Access File Protocols, when Novell Open Enterprise Server was initially released, similar protocol support was already available from Samba and Netatalk open source solutions. Samba provides native file access services to Linux servers for Windows clients, and Netatalk provides native file access services for Mac OS clients. Based on feedback from customers, however, Novell Open Enterprise Server will inherently support both AFP and CIFS on Linux servers in the upcoming support pack.(See Figure 2.)

Scaled Up Performance

Even though greater interoperability is the main focus of the new protocol support for Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, it also delivers some other nice side benefits, with performance and scalability at the top. While Samba and Netatalk do a good job of providing native file access, the solutions don’t provide the level of scalability that Novell customers are accustomed to. Customers found that Samba couldn’t scale much beyond 800 concurrent Windows clients, and Netatalk performance topped out after about 15 concurrent Mac clients. The need to address performance and scalability for these clients became one of the driving forces for Novell to incorporate CIFS and AFP protocol support in this first update to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2. (See Figure 3.)

As part of its latest round of beta testing for Support Pack 1, Novell put the scalability and performance of its new protocol support under close scrutiny. In Superlab testing, Novell engineers found that with its new AFP protocol support, Linux servers could easily handle 500 concurrent Mac connections. Superlab testing of CIFS demonstrated the ability to support more than 1,500 concurrent Windows connections. In both cases, the new protocol support on Linux servers not only matches what customers have enjoyed on NetWare, but in many cases, exceeds it.

One of the reasons that the new protocol support will enable your native Windows and Mac users to enjoy even higher performance on Linux than they could on NetWare is the addition of both multicore and multiprocessor support. AFP and CIFS on NetWare do not provide support for either, but Support Pack 1 provides it for Linux, thus

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delivering even higher performance levels for Windows and Mac users. But the added benefits don’t stop at performance and scalability.

More than Interoperability and Performance

AFP and CIFS support on Linux also provides Mac and Windows clients with universal password support of up to 64 characters. The AFP protocol supports the DHX authentication scheme used by Apple. CIFS uses Microsoft’s NTLM v1 authentication scheme. Clear text passwords are disabled by default for both protocols. And passwords are case sensitive. In the future, Novell plans to provide Kerberos support for both protocols, as well as DHX2 and NTLM v2 authentication support for AFP and CIFS, respectively.

The AFP support in this support pack also gives you greater flexibility in setting minimum and maximum threads, so you can optimize system performance based on the typical file access patterns of your users. If your users do a lot of video sharing, you might want to increase the server threads. If they deal mainly with smaller files, you have the ability to decrease the threads.

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