No More AD Chaos
Novell File Management Suite Brings Even Greater Control to File Storage in Active Directory Environments
Written by Ken Baker
Novell recently released an update to Novell File Management Suite, an offering that combines Novell expertise in file storage and identity technologies to deliver intelligent file management. With integration between Active Directory and the following three Novell products, the suite works together to provision, relocate, optimize and report on file storage based on user roles and customized business policies:
- Novell Storage Manager
- Novell File Reporter
- Novell Dynamic File Services
The major update to Novell File Management Suite is that its Novell Storage Manager component now delivers feature parity between Active Directory and Novell eDirectory environments. The significant enhancements in this new version of Novell Storage Manager bring to Active Directory environments the same powerful file-level management capabilities that used to be available only in eDirectory environments. In short, there is no longer a requirement for any Novell infrastructure to enjoy the full benefits of Novell File Management Suite.
Novell Storage Manager ties together the directory, identity and file systems, enabling organizations to align user storage resources with corporate policy. The product accomplishes this by dynamically managing and provisioning storage based on user and group events that occur in either Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory.
Prior to this update, Novell Storage Manager could only manage file storage in a user's home folder in Active Directory environments. Now it has the ability to manage almost every aspect of storage as it relates to Active Directory users and groups, including auxiliary or collaborative storage (discrete pieces of storage associated with a user or group).
Much of the power in Novell Storage Manager comes from its ability to apply a variety of changes to file-level storage based on policies that you define. For example, when users are created in Active Directory, a policy can dictate that home folders—as well as personal storage in collaborative or group folders—be created for those users with specific rights and permissions based on their roles in the organization. This can be especially helpful for Active Directory administrators who—by corporate policy—don’t want users to have “full rights” in their folders that Active Directory assigns by default.
In the past, to correct Active Directory’s over-assigning of rights, administrators would either have to manually scale the rights backs or create scripts to change those rights assignments. Novell Storage Manager does away with this need for scripts or manual rights adjustment. You simply create a policy that dictates what rights you want users to have, and Novell Storage Manager will assign those rights upon user creation. (See Figure 1.) The policy can also be used to change the rights and permissions of existing users and their storage.
Additionally, if you have corporate user storage policies that your administrators are supposed to adhere to when they set up user accounts, Novell Storage Manager can automatically implement those policies to save your administrators time and ensure compliance.
But policy enforcement isn’t limited to the assignment of rights and the creation of storage folders. In your Active Directory environment you can use Novell Storage Manager policies to govern what types of files users can store and how much storage they can have. For example, Novell Storage Manager provides what it refers to as file grooming and scrubbing capabilities. These new features—available to the Active Directory version for the first time—allow administrators to set policies that remove file types that the organization deems inappropriate for network storage. These file types might be MP3 or .AVI files, or files associated with specific MIME types like video or audio. When Novell Storage Manager finds any of these file types- based on policy - it can remove the files and either delete them or vault them to another storage device.
In terms of how much storage users can have, Novell Storage Manager now enables Active Directory environments to set quotas for users and groups. As part of this effort, you can use reports provided by Novell File Reporter (see File Storage Reporting) to get an overview of how storage space is being used by your users. Using the sizing information provided by these reports, you can create storage quota policies in Novell Storage Manager that provide appropriate storage capacity for different user types, as well as prevent unnecessary storage consumption by individual users.
As mentioned before, Novell Storage Manager allows you to use policies to set up collaborative storage for your users. With collaborative storage, you can set up folders to be used by groups of users, such as cross-functional teams. These folders might contain a general folder for common group documents, as well as personal folders where individual users can store their documents associated with the group's work.
To make it easy for you to set up this collaborative storage, Novell Storage Manager provides dynamic templates that represent optimal folder structures. (See Figure 2.) Based on how you structure your template, the policy will automatically set up the collaborative storage when a group is created or users are added to a group. You can also set up policies such that if a user becomes disassociated with a group, the user will no longer have access to the collaborative storage folders, including the user’s personal folder. However, the remaining group members can still have access to that former member’s personal folder to allow them to retain the knowledge and leverage the work.
Novell Storage Manager also allows you to set up policies to redistribute user and group storage among multiple servers. This can be helpful when you need to offload storage because a server is approaching its capacity limits. Novell Storage Manager delivers a wide variety of policy options that give you extensive power and flexibility in managing user and group storage in Active Directory environments. In some areas, it delivers even more capabilities than it provides for eDirectory environments. For example, it provides support for policies for managing storage access through Remote Desktop Services and profile paths.
In addition to its policy enforcement, Novell Storage Manager provides a variety of anomaly reports to assist you in managing storage for your Active Directory users. Anomaly reports can help you spot orphaned folders, users without a home folder, folder assignments that don’t match user object names, duplicate storage points and more.
Also new to this latest release of Novell Storage Manager is expanded support for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. In addition to supporting EMC Celerra devices, Novell Storage Manager can now manage NetApp NAS devices. This support enables an extensive array of new file-level storage management capabilities to be applied to these NAS devices, including support for clustered NAS devices.
A major enhancement has also been added to the Novell Dynamic File Services component in the latest release of Novell File Management Suite. Novell Dynamic File Services dynamically allocates and optimizes storage resources on your Windows servers based on actual data usage. It transparently directs less valuable and infrequently accessed files to less expensive, secondary storage devices so you can reduce hardware, power and cooling costs while streamlining back-up processes. And it does all this in an automated, seamless manner with no impact on your end users.
Prior to this release, the secondary storage used by Novell Dynamic File Services needed to be on the same Windows server that hosted the primary storage, such as direct attached storage, iSCSI or a SAN. Now Novell Dynamic File Services supports remote network shares, allowing the secondary storage to be hosted on a different Windows server, as well as NAS devices and even cloud storage. This added support is possible because the product no longer requires any Novell Dynamic File Services software to be installed on the target secondary storage.
In terms of using cloud storage for your secondary target, Novell Dynamic File Services currently only supports Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2 ) Web storage service. This limited support is more of a testing constraint than a technical constraint. Using the product’s ability to target iSCSI devices for secondary targets, support for additional Web storage providers will be added over time.
A major benefit of this cloud storage support in Novell Dynamic File Services is that it addresses the fear that some organizations have about cloud storage: that once their data is in the cloud, it becomes trapped in the cloud. This new enhancement in Novell Dynamic File Services allows you to liberate your cloud data. If you want to pull some or all of your data off of cloud storage, you simply reverse your policy for secondary storage, and the product will automatically migrate that data back to your primary local storage. Also, as support for other Web storage providers is expanded, if you become unhappy with one cloud provider, you can set the policy to move the data from your original provider to a different provider. So, simply by having Novell Dynamic File Services enforce the policy you set, you can control how and where your static data is stored—whether it’s in the cloud or on a NAS, a remote network share or a local network share.
In addition to the expanded support for locating secondary storage, Novell Dynamic File Services has new capabilities for managing your secondary storage. It has a new yearly policy option that makes it easier for you to reevaluate your policies on an annual basis. The new version also supports using wildcards, file patterns and file mime types to determine what files should be moved to secondary storage or retained on primary storage.
Intelligent File Management for the AD World
As you look at all the new policy and storage target enhancements in Novell File Management Suite, you’ll realize that the new version is not just about bringing feature parity to Active Directory environments. Novell File Management Suite focuses on the unique needs of Active Directory environments to allow administrators to optimize existing storage investments and derive greater business value from their digital assets. To learn more about visit Novell File Management Suite.