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Extend Your Reach

Enhancements in Novell File Management Suite Deliver Even More Control over Your Storage Resources

Written by Ken Baker

To help you deal with the file system challenge caused by the rapid and ongoing proliferation of user data, Novell released Novell File Management Suite earlier this year. (See Controlling the Chaos.) Comprised of Novell File Reporter, Novell Storage Manager and Novell Dynamic File Services, the individual products in Novell File Management Suite work together to turn file system chaos into organized efficiency. Supporting file storage infrastructures in both Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory environments, Novell File Management Suite brings intelligence to file storage management. It works at the file level to let you better manage the growth of storage, allocate and control storage based on identity, and save money in the administration and procurement of storage resources. (See Not Your Typical Storage Management.)

Due to its ability to dramatically improve the efficiency, effectiveness and manageability of file storage in both Novell Open Enterprise Server and Windows Server environments, customers have welcomed the new offering with much excitement. So much so that they quickly began asking Novell to broaden the solution’s reach across their file storage infrastructures too. In response to those requests, Novell made the development of an updated version of Novell File Management Suite a high priority —and released the product just weeks ago.

Supporting file storage infrastructures in both Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory environments, Novell File Management Suite brings intelligence to file storage management.

Intelligent NAS Managements

Novell Storage Manager leverages identity, policy, and directory service events to automate the full lifecycle management of your file-level user and group storage. As changes occur in the directory service (Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory) that affect a user’s storage needs or user storage policy (i.e., user creations, user deletions, group assignments, moves, and renames), Novell Storage Manager automatically makes the necessary changes at the file system level to address them.

Novell Storage Manager implements these changes using an extensible combination of local agents and proxy agents. A single Novell Storage Manager proxy agent has the ability to manage and effect these changes on multiple servers, eliminating the need to deploy a local agent on every server. These proxy agent characteristics are also what give Novell Storage Manager the ability to manage data on network-attached storage (NAS), such as an EMC Celerra device. Once installed on a Windows Server, a Novell Storage Manager proxy agent can act in an efficient manner as the Novell Storage Manager agent for multiple NAS appliances.

When Novell File Management Suite shipped earlier this year, EMC Celerra customers appreciated the ability to automate the file-based storage management of their devices. However, customers of other NAS devices wanted this same capability. A number of customers with NetApp filer devices in particular requested this support. Novell listened and as a result it addressed this demand by adding proxy support for NetApp filer devices in Novell Storage Manager as well.

Intelligent NAS Reporting

Demand didn’t end with expanded management of NAS devices on Novell Storage Manager. As customers recognized the power and versatility that proxy agents delivered in Novell Storage Manager, they wanted to see similar benefits from the suite’s Novell File Reporter component.

Novell File Reporter gives you file-level visibility into your organization’s storage usage resources so you can make more informed storage management decisions. It makes periodic scans of the file systems of your storage resources. These scans serve as the basis for a collection of detailed and summary reports that give you an accurate assessment of your unstructured data, let you better plan for and deploy an efficient storage infrastructure, and execute on compliance and governance requirements.

Storage resources to be scanned and reported on by Novell File Reporter can include server volumes, Windows shares, Novell Storage Manager policies, network folder paths and Linux mount points. These scans provide comprehensive information on your storage content, such as file types, file size, duplicate files, file owners, when files were created or last modified, and much more. Each scan is indexed and compressed so it can be stored at a fraction of its actual size. These scans have the ability to examine and report on billions of files and hundreds of millions of folders and subfolders scattered across your network. To efficiently scale to this level of reporting, Novell File Reporter distributes its workload between a reporting engine and multiple agents. One of the key and differentiating benefits of this ability to scale is that Novell File Reporter can provide you a single aggregated report on all your storage resources in all of your different locations, even in very large environments.

This release of Novell File Management Suite enables the use of proxy agents—in addition to local agents— in Novell File Reporter, giving it the capability to now scan and report on file based storage on NAS devices in Active Directory managed networks. Specifically, this support extends to both EMC Celerra and NetApp filer devices. (See Figure 1.)

In addition to adding support for NAS devices, proxy agents in general let you report on storage in locations in both Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory Environments where agents can't typically run. Proxy agents also reduce the number of Novell File Reporter local agents that you have to deploy in order to service your other traditional storage servers in eDirectory and Active Directory environments. Since you don't have to deploy as many agents, it significantly reduces your deployment and configuration time. This also makes it easier to try the evaluation version of Novell File Reporter to do a quick assessment of your storage infrastructure.

As customers recognized the power and versatility that proxy agents delivered in Novell Storage Manager, they wanted to see similar benefits from the suite’s Novell File Reporter component.

However, you need to be aware that reducing the number of local agents you deploy can create performance consequences. Since proxy agents take remote scans of your storage resources across the network, scans will take longer than those performed by local agents. Even so, Novell File Reporter gives you the ability to schedule your scans to run at the most efficient times for the individual devices being scanned. Scan schedules can also be staggered by having one proxy agent be responsible for scanning multiple storage resources. This can help ensure that an agent is not proxy scanning an excessive number of storage resources at the same time.

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