AboutLord Selkirk School Division
Brad Bowman is the network systems administrator for Lord Selkirk School Division, headquartered in Selkirk, Manitoba. In 2006, he made the decision to dump the Mac servers that were running in parallel with his PC storage hardware and use a new solution: Novell® Kanaka for Mac.
The division had been running on NetWare® since before Bowman’s arrival in 1998, and had recently migrated to Novell Open Enterprise Server. With 15 schools spread across 680 square miles of Canadian farmland, the division needed a reliable solution to connect more than 500 Mac workstations to the school network.
“The Mac Power servers were not using enterprise-grade hardware. We’d lose a Mac hard drive, and we’d lose backups. The old Mac servers just weren’t cutting it anymore,” Bowman recalls. “We needed enterprise-level networking for our Mac users, and Apple couldn’t provide it.”
In short, the Mac servers were not able to be virtualized, not fault tolerant, not mission-critical ready, and not able to be upgraded easily.
Bowman installed Novell Kanaka for Mac and easily connected the Mac workstations to Novell Open Enterprise Server and the school’s existing infrastructure.
“We have a single back-end storage architecture that’s seamless between PC and Mac. And it respects the permission structure already built by our IT team,” he says. More than six years later, Lord Selkirk School Division is still using both Novell products. “Novell Kanaka for Mac allowed us to get off of the consumer-grade hardware and use something with fault tolerance and redundancy,” he says. “We didn’t want to risk data loss for our clients. With the Kanaka solution, it wasn’t a question of ‘Do you have that on a backup?’ it was, ‘How far back do you want to go?’”
The school network depends on Novell Open Enterprise Server for its performance, security and reliability.
Our OES system is very rugged,” Bowman explains. “We continue to reap the benefits of inherent OES stability.”
In addition to reliability and fault tolerance, Novell Kanaka for Mac provides a seamless computing experience to the students.
“Users have no idea they’re logging into a PC server from a Mac,” Bowman says. “We started using Novell Kanaka to give students an easy desktop experience, so even the youngest kids could log in quickly without too much fuss.”
The Mac workstations use the same network and the same storage locations as the PCs. “It’s totally transparent to the students. Kids could be on a Mac in the morning and a PC in the afternoon and work on the same project.”
Today, the OES network servers are virtualized, ensuring uptime for Lord Selkirk School Division computers. And Bowman plans to continue using Novell technology wherever possible. “A variety of options keep us coming back to Novell,” he says. “Being able to interoperate with another manufacturer’s products is invaluable. We are continually finding new products to snap in and make better use of our infrastructure” When other sys admins in the province ask him for advice, it’s a given that Bowman will recommend Novell.
“There’s a lot of pressure to go with Windows, with what’s simple, what people are using at home. But when you get to this size of network, you can’t look at what’s simple, you have to look at what’s the best, robust system down the road. For server-based stuff, go with Novell. It’s just the smart decision.”
Looking down the road, Bowman sees tablets in the near future for Lord Selkirk School Division.
“Filr and other Novell solutions will allow us to bridge tablets into the network,” he says. “The good news is, you can still connect with Filr and Open Enterprise Server. As a sys admin, I’m telling everyone I can about Novell Filr. It’s really exciting technology.”