Tech Talk 5 by Ken Baker
Novell iFolder 3.7–Data Accessibility and Disaster Recovery Made Easy
You work hard delivering the services that your organization needs to succeed, but are there any new services that you’ve given your users in the past few years that they’ve really thanked you for? More than likely the answer is “no.” It’s not necessarily because your user base is full of ingrates; it's simply likely, that there’s nothing very extraordinary about the basic file, print and backup services that you spend so much time providing them. However, by introducing Novell iFolder into your environment, you’re bound to get some much overdo recognition from the rank-and-file all the way up to executive management.
Novell iFolder gives innovative anytime, anywhere, any machine data accessibility. With Novell iFolder, users’ data can basically follow them wherever they go, from machine to machine, and location to location. It consists of a lightweight client that resides on Windows, Linux or Mac machines, synchronizing user data across multiple user machines and the server. It eliminates the constant thumb drive shuffle that often happens when users need to move data from their office computer to their home computer. With the solution’s Web access capabilities, mobile users making sales calls can even access their data on a customer’s loaner machine.
Additionally, iFolder automatically synchronizes user data from local desktops or laptops to your servers, providing inherently powerful disaster recovery capabilities. If your computer crashes, all your iFolder data will automatically follow you to a new replacement machine. And with the iFolder data on all your corporate laptops and desktops synchronized to your servers, that user data can now be automatically backed up as part of your regular backup operations.
Originally provided as an add-on enhancement to NetWare (iFolder 2.x), Novell iFolder 3.x comes standard in Novell Open Enterprise Server Linux. And with the recent SP1 release of Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, new features and enhancements have been added to iFolder that further augment its data accessibility and disaster recovery capabilities.
A few of the key new features and enhancements for Novell iFolder 3.7 fall in the following categories:
- Enhanced administration
- Improved file conflict management
- Added support for Vista and Macintosh platforms
- Simplified install, migrate and merge capabilities
You manage iFolder services via the iFolder 3 plug-in to Novell iManager. If you’ve administered Novell iFolder before, one of the first improvements you’ll notice in the 3.7 version is the enhanced administration console. The look and feel is now streamlined to make it easier to use and navigate. (See Figure 1.)
Also new to the management interface is the ability to detect and manage orphaned iFolders. When users are removed from the directory, their iFolders are automatically flagged as orphaned and are temporarily assigned to an iFolder admin that you’ve previously assigned for that user. The iFolder admin could be you, another administrator or the user’s manager. As its owner, iFolder admins have full control rights to the iFolder with the ability to manage membership and access rights for other users of that iFolder, remaining the owner until the iFolder is reassigned or deleted.
Subscribe to Connection Magazine
The solution’s policy-based management of the iFolder system, user accounts and users’ iFolders has also been improved. One of these improvements deals with file synchronization restrictions. In previous versions of iFolder, all files in your iFolder were synchronized, including .mp3, .avi and .jpg file types. In iFolder 3.7, you can set file type restrictions by policy to prevent synchronization of certain file types. Policies can be applied system-wide, to individual users or to individual iFolders. Also, in the past, file sizes were only limited by the server and client’s local file system (i.e., 4GB for FAT32 and 2GB for ext2). Novell iFolder 3.7 allows you to set system-wide maximum file sizes by policies.
Novell iFolder 3.7 also provides better support for multi-server configuration, enabling you to set up multiple servers to participate in a single iFolder domain. This ability to host a single iFolder domain on multiple servers makes it easier to provision many users on that domain, as well as host large amounts of data on it. It also gives you the ability to leverage under-utilized servers to better support domain performance. The solution gives you increased storage scalability with its multi-volume support that can manage large amounts of data above a volume’s file system limits.
By policy, you can also mandate which servers in an iFolder domain must utilize SSL communication, or you can grant users a specific level of control regarding which of their iFolders should synchronize via SSL. With its multi-threaded asynchronous engine, iFolder synchronization performance over version 3.6 has been improved by 400 percent or more for small files.