In early 2005, Novell made a splash in the Linux pool with the release of their Open Enterprise Server product. Based on both NetWare 6.5 SP5 and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, Novell Open Enterprise Server is intended to replace NetWare by providing organizations the ability to continue to use their core Netware services (Open Enterprise Server's NetWare core) while gradually making the transition to a Linux environment (Open Enterprise Server's SuSE Linux core). Here's what you'll find in OES.
As of this writing, Novell had just announced the next version of SuSE Linux, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, but the product was not yet available. For the purposes of this article, we'll discuss OES 9. OES consists of both a Linux and NetWare component. I will focus primarily on the Linux side of the equation, and will use Open Enterprise Server SP2 for all examples and provide some details from the NetWare side as necessary.
Server target audience and upgrade path Enterprise
If you're a SuSE Linux shop, Open Enterprise Server may be for you if you are looking for some of the enterprise features offered by Novell. If, however, you're running NetWare and have been nervously awaiting word about the future of your platform, Open Enterprise Server is your answer.
Novell still sells SuSE Linux Enterprise Server as a separate product for those organizations that want just straight-up Linux with no additional Novell software services (such as eDirectory), although other Novell services can be added separately. Open Enterprise Server simply combines everything into one massive product and download.
From an upgrade standpoint, you can move to Open Enterprise Server (Linux core) directly from SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (no SP, SP1, or SP2). Novell does not support an upgrade from Nterprise Linux Services.
When you upgrade an existing NetWare server to Open Enterprise Server with a NetWare core, the server is outfitted with a NetWare 6.5 Support Pack 5 kernel. Novell now considers NetWare 6.5 Support Pack 5 and Open Enterprise Server Service Pack 2 to be the exact same product and they make no differentiation between them.
Server services Enterprise
Just about all of Novell's services now run under both Linux and NetWare and, in some cases, Windows. As one would expect, Novell's services run under both the NetWare and SuSE Linux OES cores, with few exceptions.
The full Novell Open Enterprise Server SP2 includes a number of open source and proprietary components, including:
- Novell eDirectory - eDirectory is one of the foundations of a Novell network and provides enterprise-grade, LDAP-compliant directory services. eDirectory offers web-based administration, scales to more than one billion entries, and, through various means, is completely interoperable with other directories, such as Active Directory.
- Novell iFolder 3.1 - iFolder 3.1 is available only with Open Enterprise Server, although older versions of iFolder continue to be available as standalone products. iFolder is a file sharing and synchronization service that keeps files on multiple clients current and protects against client failures by storing copies of all synchronized files on an iFolder server.
- Novell iManager 2.5 - iManager is a web-based network administration tool that allows you to manage a number of Novell's disparate components, including eDirectory, Identity Manager, Cluster Services, Health Monitoring Services, DNS/DHCP, Virtual Office, Open Enterprise Server itself and a whole lot more.
- Novell iPrint - Based on NDPS (Novell Distributed Print Services), iPrint is an enterprise-wide printing solution based on TCP/IP providing secure printing from Windows, Linux, and Macintosh clients to any printer on your corporate network--local or remote.
- Novell Modular Authentication Service - NMAS is an eDirectory component that allows you to easily support multiple authentication methods (such as smart cards, biometrics, Kerberos, proximity cards, and digital certificates) on your network.
- Novell Cluster Services - Cluster Services assists administrators with managing Fibre Channel- or iSCSI-based SANs as well as providing a platform on which to build highly available server clusters. Cluster Services supports up to 32 servers in a single cluster, and each server can have up to 32 processors. Of particular importance to organizations considering a switch from NetWare to Open Enterprise Server and possibly Linux, Cluster Services supports mixed NetWare/Linux clusters.
- Novell Identity Manager - Formerly known as DirXML, Novell's Identity Manager helps administrators provide consistent access to resources across the enterprise by assisting with the account provision process. Identity Manager also includes self-service password help features that reduce calls to the IT help desk. In particular, Identity Manager is used for connecting and synchronizing Novell eDirectory trees and Microsoft Active Directory domains.
- Novell Server Consolidation Migration Utility - Provides a direct migration path to Open Enterprise Server from Windows 2000/2003 maintaining both directory hierarchy and system files and folders.
- Novell Storage Services (NSS) - NSS has been around for a long time and provides NetWare (and now Linux), with an outstanding journaling file system that supports up to 8 trillion files per server and files of up to 8TB in size. NSS supports the name spaces for a number of operating systems, including Windows long file names and DOS 8.3 file names.
- Novell ZENworks Linux - ZENWorks helps IT administrators provision software and enforce IT policies across the organization.
- Virtual Office - Virtual Office provides solutions for today's mobile workforce, including access to files, collaborative tools, web-based email access, access to enterprise applications, printing, and much more. Novell's "Virtual Office" offering is comprised of a solution based on Virtual Teams, Novell iFolder, NetStorage, iPrint, eGuide (allows people to search for information, such as addresses, phone numbers, etc., about other users) and more.
Not everything in Novell Open Enterprise Server is proprietary. In fact, among many other things, Open Enterprise Server includes the following open-source products:
- MySQL - MySQL is the most popular open source database server in use, and is included as an optional component in Open Enterprise Server.
- Apache - The Apache web server is used for a number of Open Enterprise Server components.
- Tomcat - Apache Tomcat is a Java servlet container that lets you easily deploy Java-based applications on your Open Enterprise Server.
- PHP - The most used scripting language on the web, PHP is also included on Open Enterprise Server.
While I will be focusing on the Linux core of Open Enterprise Server, note that the components listed above are available for both NetWare and Linux.
Now that you know what you can do with Open Enterprise Server, let's talk a little about what it takes to run the product. Of course, your server's specifications need to be hefty enough to run all of the services that you like, but I will provide you with the minimum and recommended configuration as provided by Novell for a base installation of Open Enterprise Server:
- Processor - A 450MHz or faster processor is required, with 700MHz or faster recommended. Note that, while OES will run on systems with 64-bit extensions, the software only uses 32-bit mode.
- RAM - 512MB minimum, with 1GB or more recommended.
- Disk space - 6GB of free disk space, with at least 10GB recommended. This will vary greatly as you add components.
- Other hardware requirements - A CD-ROM drive and reasonable network adapter are required.
Multiple Cores = Multiple Options = More Decisions
As I indicated earlier in this article, I'm focusing this series on the Linux stack, but, if you're at the beginning of a process to evaluate or install Open Enterprise Server in your organization, you should know what options are available under each core. Novell has a very nice chart that explains this, but it's buried deep on their site (as are a lot of things, unfortunately!). I have extracted some of the contents of this chart and made it a little more clear and provided it to you in Table A.
If you are installing a Novell product for the first time, make sure that you properly plan for the creation of your eDirectory tree. For the installation examples I provide in the next two articles in this series, I am creating a new eDirectory tree and installing my Open Enterprise Server into that new tree. I am, however, also installing the software in my lab only.
If you're installing Open Enterprise Server into a production eDirectory tree, make very careful note of Novell's recommendations and "gotchas". For example, Novell recommends that, if you are planning to install an Open Enterprise Server Linux into your environment and you're running a NetWare 6.5 SP2 tree that you first upgrade to NetWare 6.5 SP3. Doing so will prevent a problem in NetWare 6.5 SP2 that will cause an abend on the existing NetWare server.
An Open Enterprise Server evaluation is available for download from the Novell Web site and is full-featured. To get the evaluation, you'll have to register for an account, but it's an easy process. For Linux core testers, Novell will provide you with 60 days of updates. For NetWare core testers, Novell provides you with a pair of license key files that expire after 90 days.
A good reason to reconsider Novell
First of all, if you're either new to the Novell game, or have been away from Novell's products for any period of time, you might be pretty confused about what's going on. In short, the anticipated lifespan of NetWare has been in flux for a very long time and Novell is taking steps to remain a relevant player in the enterprise networking space. Their acquisition of SuSE and subsequent release of the "dual core" Open Enterprise Server provides NetWare shops with a reasonable migration path either to a newer version of NetWare or to Novell's new and future Linux offerings.
While Novell has an outstanding product lineup, they continue to suffer from a serious lack of good marketing as evidenced by confusion surrounding the release of Open Enterprise Server. Hopefully this article has helped to clear up some of this confusion.