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Getting to Know Open Enterprise Server: Part II

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Posted: 2 Jul 2004
 

In Part I of this series, we discuss the components that will be included in Novell Open Enterprise Server, and explained how it will help you expand and solidify the deployment of open source tools in your network. In Part II, we explore the ways Open Enterprise Server can help you make sure that workers in your organization remain productive and have access to the information and services they need to do their jobs. And finally, in Part III we look at what it takes to manage, backup, and provide failover for an enterprise network with hundreds, even thousands of servers, when some of them are Linux boxes.

Productivity on Linux: Making your Applications Work

Novell has years of experience in providing industry leading networking services on NetWare. Now that experience is brought over to the Linux world to provide you true choice and flexibility.

The primary purpose of the IT staff is to ensure that workers in the organization remain productive and have access to the information and services they need to do their jobs. Productivity is key, so you may have some questions about how adopting Linux into your environment may disrupt productivity. These are some of the questions that Open Enterprise Server addresses:

  • How do we provide a consistent experience for both our Windows and Linux desktop users?
  • How do we make our users productive from the road and home?
  • Help desk costs are killing us. It would save us a ton of money if end-users could help themselves! Can we do it?
  • How do bring all of our user information, applications and services together into one, consistent place? I can never find anything!

Novell has years of experience in providing industry leading networking services on NetWare. Now that experience is brought over to the Linux world to provide you true choice and flexibility. Networking services in Open Enterprise Server include Virtual Office, Virtual Teams, advanced file and print services and Linux desktop support.

With Open Enterprise Server, users can:

  • Easily work from anywhere?all they need is a browser
  • Automatically create team collaboration environments
  • Locate people and information anywhere in the organization
  • Have all their data backed up
  • Have easy access to a secure file system
  • Painlessly set up printers in a matter of seconds
  • Have a complete Windows or Linux desktop environment

Let's look at these services in a bit more detail.

Virtual Office

End users get access to Virtual Teams, personal files from anywhere, point and click printing, a corporate directory to locate anyone in the organization, email, personal browser favorites, and even have access to online business applications.

Knowledge workers are increasingly using the Internet for real-time collaborative tasks, such as product design, mergers and acquisitions, and scientific or analytical research. Common to all of these tasks is the need to employ spontaneous messaging, data sharing and task-specific applications within a close-knit working community. End users become much more productive, as these personalized work spaces become virtualized, allowing the work experience to follow the user. Productivity is significantly magnified as self-help measures are introduced into this workspace. Virtual Office can be deployed on either a NetWare or SUSE Linux Server.

End users get access to Virtual Teams, personal files from anywhere, point and click printing, a corporate directory to locate anyone in the organization, email, personal browser favorites, and even have access to online business applications. All this to help improve their personal productivity.

Virtual Teams

Globalization and network connectivity are driving more enterprises to conduct work across time, space and cultural boundaries. This means that an increasing amount of the mission-critical work of the enterprise is being conducted in the context of the virtual team?a dispersed group of workers with shared purposes, accountabilities and work activities, who collaborate using technology-mediated communication systems and processes.

Team members using Virtual Teams as their virtual meeting place have access to news, discussions, secure Internet chat, resource/file sharing, calendaring, team links, and team management capabilities.

eGuide (Corporate Directory)

Novell eGuide provides a single location to search for the names you need to know and helps you communicate more effectively than ever before. eGuide also automatically generates organizational charts.

Locating individuals in the organization can be a challenge?unless of course you use Novell eGuide. eGuide is a Web-based application that lets you easily and quickly search for user information from a number of LDAP-enabled sources, including Novell eDirectory?. Novell eGuide is written in Java and works on any platform, including NetWare, Windows NT, UNIX, and Linux. eGuide is also integrated with Virtual Office and can automatically be installed if you deploy Virtual Office.

The eGuide user interface allows you to find the person you want to communicate with and then choose the best tool for the job, such as e-mail, instant messaging, or video conferencing. You can also define a personalized look for the Web-based client. Novell eGuide provides a single location to search for the names you need to know and helps you communicate more effectively than ever before. eGuide also automatically generates organizational charts based on the hierarchy in the directory structure. People are able to see what department an individual works in and can also locate any of their peers. From an individual's eGuide listing you can get further information about the individual from their public web page. This internal web page will automatically list the teams he or she is associated with, and will also list any links they want to share with the organization, as well as files they want to post for others to access.

Novell iFolder

With Novell iFolder you no longer need to e-mail files to yourself or save them to a disk: your files are up-to-date on all the machines that you use.

How often do people in your organization transfer files from one machine to another by sending themselves e-mail attachments? How certain are you that people in your organization are backing up the important information stored on their hard drives? How difficult is it for you to replace critical files when laptops are lost or stolen -- or transfer those files to a new computer?

Novell iFolder makes it easy for you to:

  • Keep files synchronized across all the different machines people use
  • Automatically keep files backed up on the network
  • Access, manage and store your information?offline, online, all the time. Your files are only a browser away
  • Restore information when computers are lost, stolen or upgraded

Winner of the 2003 Codie Award for Best Storage Software, Novell iFolder is a simple and secure storage solution that can increase user productivity by enabling people to back up, access and manage their personal files?from anywhere, at anytime. Here's how it works.

Once you have installed Novell iFolder, you simply save your files locally?as you have always done?and Novell iFolder automatically updates the files on a network server and delivers them to the other machines you use. For example, you can save a file at the office and Novell iFolder automatically transfers the file to your home computer. With Novell iFolder you no longer need to e-mail files to yourself or save them to a disk: your files are up-to-date on all the machines that you use.

To maintain data integrity and ensure you have the latest version of your files, Novell iFolder seamlessly synchronizes the contents of all of your Novell iFolders, no matter which of your computers you may be using. This is possible because computers that use Novell iFolder communicate regularly with the Novell iFolder server?ensuring that the most current information is distributed to all computers that use Novell iFolder. If you make a change to any of your personal files, Novell iFolder locates the changes you made and only communicates the changed data to the server and your other computers.

With iFolder, users can be productive from any location and you can finally protect the elusive data that resides on desktops and laptops. Yet another way that Open Enterprise Server helps you eliminate business risk.

Novell iPrint

Industry stats list printing problems as accounting for nearly 20% of all IT support calls. With iPrint, users can easily set up their own printers, and your support costs are greatly reduced.

With Novell iPrint you can provide location-based printing that is unmatched in ease-of-use. Industry stats list printing problems as accounting for nearly 20% of all IT support calls. With iPrint, users can easily set up their own printers, and your support costs are greatly reduced.

iPrint lets mobile employees, business partners, and customers access printers from a variety of remote locations using existing Internet connections. Whether users are working in an office building, telecommuting from home, or attending a sales meeting in another country, iPrint ensures that they can print documents quickly, easily, and reliably.

Using a Web browser, users point to a Web page that displays the available printers. By clicking a printer, the iPrint Client is installed (if not installed previously), the printer's driver is downloaded, and a printer is created in the user's Windows* Printers folder, enabling the user to send documents to the printer from any application on the desktop.

Using iPrint, mobile users no longer need to contact a busy network administrator to find out a printer's name, context, and the required printer driver. Instead, mobile users work within a Web browser to locate nearby printers using iPrint's default printer list or maps created by the administrator. Companies can also lower communication costs by reducing the need to fax documents between offices; instead, companies can use their existing Internet connections to print documents to remote printers.

Seamless File Services Integration and Interoperability

Whether a user is on a Linux desktop, a Windows desktop or using a browser, they want to have easy and clear access to important files, regardless of where they may reside within the network.

Whether a user is on a Linux desktop, a Windows desktop or using a browser, they want to have easy and clear access to important files, regardless of where they may reside within the network. With Novell file services, users can have a single combined view of networked files, even if the files reside on a Linux, Windows or NetWare server. File services within Open Enterprise Server take the complexities out of accessing files on different servers and ensure that each platform coexists nicely and end users have simplified views and access to what they need.

Novell Storage Services on Linux

No other file systems in Linux or Windows provide the ability for children files and subdirectories to know which directory they are located in.

Novell Storage Services implements a unique capability of back linking. No other file systems in Linux or Windows provide the ability for children files and subdirectories to know which directory they are located in. This gives NSS some unique capabilities.

Visibility is the most notable, and is discussed in greater detail below.

Inheritance is another, which removes the need for the administrator to be concerned about the access rights in the file system directories. In Linux FS, they must constantly monitor and track rights in the file system to avoid accidental security breaches. Access rights with inheritance and inheritance filters make managing shared file systems for thousands of users simple. Daily changes in access control needs are dramatically simplified.

NSS includes other unique capabilities, such as Salvage. If a file is deleted by an application, or by a user from a command prompt, the file can still be recovered. With other file systems, the ?trash can? only works for those operations performed by users in the GUI file explorer.

Administrators of both Windows and Linux have seen that the rights management models are very different, with Windows having a richer model (more modes) than UNIX/Linux. Novell's NSS rights model comes from Novell's long history with shared file system management. In fact, the Windows rights model is a derivative of Novell's NetWare 2.x rights model. Novell enjoys a superset of capabilities giving it the best management of any environment.

Rights are integrated with eDirectory objects. Therefore, data security is maintained throughout the enterprise, no matter where that data is replicated to, by virtue of Novell's eDirectory services.

How about NetWare to Linux migration? NSS volumes on NetWare (6.x) can be directly mounted on Linux hosts with NSS running on Linux. This paves the way for a ?High Availability OS migration? when coupled with Novell Cluster Services in OES.

Novell Storage Services Visibility

With NSS, the user ONLY sees the subdirectories to which they have rights.

Windows UNIX and Linux file systems allow users to see all subdirectories at a given level where they have rights to one or more of those subdirectories. With NSS, the user ONLY sees the subdirectories to which they have rights.

Two years ago, a customer related the following story to one of our product managers at a trade show:

"We had migrated to Windows from NetWare like so many others have done. One of our team's had a shared area on a file server. The manager had created a subdirectory called ?Employee performance issues? at the same level as the teams working directory where they shared project data. Under NetWare, the employees could not see this directory. However, under Windows, all the employees with rights to the project directory could see it. When attempting to access the ?Employee performance issues? directory, they would get an ?Access Denied? error back. It was slightly over a month later when one of the employees was able to obtain a password which gave him access to the ?Employee performance issues? subdirectory. Our IT department was first blamed, and questions raised as to ?how could this have happened?? We explained that this was the difference between NetWare and Windows. The File servers were subsequently migrated back to NetWare, while all the other servers have remained on Windows."

Support for both Windows & Linux Desktops

Whether you have chosen a Windows or Linux desktop, Open Enterprise Server ensures that critical services are available to any user.

Out of the box file services for Linux means Linux desktop users access networked files that are on a NetWare server or a Linux server.

The iFolder client for Linux or Windows desktops ensures that personal files are automatically synchronized between desktops and server to ensure that files are backed up and available from anywhere.

The iPrint client for Linux desktops means that Linux users now have the point and click printing capabilities that iPrint has provided for some time now. This will greatly simplify printer setup and reduce the number of the print-related calls to the IT help desk.

Linux browser support -- Through any standard browser?Linux or Windows, users are able to get to resources delivered through Open Enterprise Server.

In addition to the cross platform desktop components included in Open Enterprise Server, additional productivity enhancing-services can be found from other Novell products, including GroupWise support for a Linux server and desktop environment, Instant Messenger capabilities for Linux desktops, the actual Linux desktop provided by Novell's Linux desktop product (combined Ximian and SUSE desktop technologies), and ZENworks 6.5 includes ZENworks Linux Management so you can easily manage and update Linux desktops.

Making Your Network Even More User Friendly

Open Enterprise Server helps make your network even more user friendly.

  • You may have a mixed desktop environment and can now support Windows or Linux desktop clients
  • Because many productivity tools are only a browser away, users can work from anywhere and still work effectively
  • Users can locate people and information anywhere in the organization
  • Individual user files, vital to the organization and individual productivity, are always backed up - automatically
  • Printers are set up in seconds without support calls
  • Team collaboration environments are created as needed and managed by team members

What does this all mean? Greater productivity and less work for the IT staff. These services are for users, managed by users.

Security

Open Enterprise Server provides you with identity management and security capabilities that span the entire enterprise.

Security is critical in any organization and managing numerous users can add additional management complexity and an added level of vulnerability. Open Enterprise Server provides you with identity management and security capabilities that span the entire enterprise and provide the following:

  • Single identity to the enterprise
  • Manage once -- control many
  • Advanced levels of security and authentication
  • Policy-based management
  • Integrate and synchronize heterogeneous environments
  • Cost savings through centralized management

eDirectory

eDirectory provides the foundation for enterprise security in consolidated and distributed environments and supports the mix of multiple platforms that many customers have (Linux, UNIX, NetWare, Windows, etc.).

The basis of Novell's identity management solutions is Novell eDirectory. Novell has been recognized as the Directory leader for well over a decade and has been a pioneer in directory innovations. eDirectory provides the foundation for enterprise security in consolidated and distributed environments and supports the mix of multiple platforms that many customers have (Linux, UNIX, NetWare, Windows, etc.). eDirectory also supports the open-standard LDAP protocol which has been widely adopted by many application vendors. eDirectory allows companies to implement global security policies with multiple levels of security, including smart cards, digital certificates, tokens, etc. eDirectory ensures that only the right users are able to access any given piece of information.

Unless a company has only a couple of servers in a single location, it can become very difficult to ensure the security of their confidential information and systems while giving sufficient access to employees who need access to this corporate data. eDirectory was designed to allow companies to easily assign rights and provide access to users without compromising security. Because of its distributed nature, eDirectory allows companies to manage users and groups based on global policies at a very high level and then to easily add or restrict rights to specific groups or users by exceptions to these global policies. Rights are assigned on an hierarchical basis with the most general rights and access given at the highest level, and more specific rights given at a department, group or user level. This ensures that general rights and access are available to most employees, with specific rights being added or restricted at lower levels to specific groups or users.

eDirectory provides for very granular access control. A company can set specific policies to ensure that corporate data is secured from outside threats, as well as internal threats. It allows companies to set password policies, to determine when and where users can access information, how many times they can login, etc. These policies also apply globally and not to just a specific user on a specific server.

Identity Synchronization

Do you have multiple platforms, vendors, and technologies in your environment? Open Enterprise Server includes directory synchronization capabilities, so you can integrate your systems.

Do you have multiple platforms, vendors, and technologies in your environment? Do you have applications that require you to use Microsoft Active Directory? Open Enterprise Server includes directory synchronization capabilities, so you can integrate your systems. This allows you to efficiently manage heterogeneous environments, tying your systems together. Now users have consistent passwords across multiple systems and you are assured that you are eliminating potential security risks. Management is easy because you manage multiple directories from a single location. Information changed in one directory is automatically updated wherever else that identity information is needed. Open Enterprise Server includes the popular drivers to synchronize identity information between NT domains, Active Directory and eDirectory. Additional drivers are available to integrate various other applications and directories.

Add list of other drivers that are currently available can be found here.

Self Service Identity

Many companies wonder why users can manage their own information on the Internet, including their banking, travel, shopping, etc., and yet they call an administrator every time they forget a password or need to change a phone number.

Many companies spend lots of time and money updating user information. Many of these companies are looking for ways to allow users to manage their own information to free up these IT resources for more strategic initiatives. The Internet and the browser have changed the way that many companies look at self service. Many companies wonder why users can manage their own information on the Internet, including their banking, travel, shopping, etc., and yet they call an administrator every time they forget a password or need to change a phone number. With eGuide and eDirectory, companies can allow end users to easily manage and update their own information. Companies can set up policies to determine what users can and cannot change, thus alleviating the IT burden currently required to keep up with many of the simple updates and changes that users require.


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