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Netware NDS vs Microsoft AD

By egray ·
My company is going through the ?should we convert our network from NetWare NDS to Microsoft AD? phase, and I?m looking for a little professional direction. I've tried the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach, but it's fallen on deaf ears.

Background: We?re a fairly large company with 30 sites scattered throughout the country and thousands of users. Each site has a local administrator with administrative rights to his or her OU and their own servers. We have only a couple of admins with root access at the main company site. We pretty much stay out of each others way, and unless someone has a problem, we hardly need to communicate. To put it another way, the network works.

My main concern is my users. Unlike many administrators I?ve met, I tend to put users at the top of my priority list, with ease of administration coming in a close second (no one here, of course). They are the reason I have a job, and the respect I give them (and the respect I get in return) makes working here enjoyable. The last thing I need is to make their lives harder.

At this point in my career, I?m indifferent to change, as it always presents an opportunity to learn new things. I?m a Novell CNE dating back to NetWare 4.0 and have worked with NDS exclusively through version 6.5, albeit with different companies. The recent announcement that we would be doing a feasibility study of converting our NDS environment to an AD environment came as a surprise (I can hear the screams now), but I figure it was only a matter of time before I had to deal with this. Since I?ve never really dealt with Active Directory, it would be difficult for me to hold an intelligent conversation on the matter. So I?m looking for some direction from those who have worked with both. I?m not looking for Microsoft bashers to take another whack at them, I?m looking for real life experiences from those who have struggled or triumphed through a similar process. If you converted, how did it go? Would you do it again? From an administration standpoint, what are the advantages or drawbacks of AD vs NDS? Have there been any recent unbiased studies done on both? (I?ve done the Google search, but most have been commissioned by one or the other).

So, let the OS games begin.

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We are begining to convert

by jdmercha In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

We have been a long time Novell shop. For longer than the 8 years I've been here. But we are making the switch from Novell to AD. I agree with your sentiment that if it ain't broke don't fix it. In our case it wasn't broken, but it was becoming increasingly difficult and costly to do what we wanted.

Everytime we wanted to use a new technology it would always be "Novell is not supported", or "It works with MS out of the box, but to get it to work with Novell you also have to buy this".

We also have a distributed network, with about 30 network admins. We ahve been finding it increasingly difficult to secure this diverse network. In our case, switching to AD will give us a more secure network, with better management features, for a lower cost.

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Have recently looked at this

by PeterSS In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

We are a local authority in the UK, and have about 200 sites, but managed centrally from one location. We use Novell for most authentication/app delivery (zenworks), file and print etc.

I have recently looked through loads of research to see if there would be any advantage to us switching to MS-based network (we have a significant number of MS application boxes).

My conclusion is that it is very expensive to do, and would not give us much more than we have at present.

The only unbiased studies I found are from the likes of Gartner, who basically say the answer depend on where you're starting from. Many orgs have MS networks already, or have MS Exchange, so the move is not as significant. However, for those staying with Novell, a move to Linux is inevitable I think.

I too would appreciate more feedback in this area...

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Switching from NDS to AD

by tcaldwell In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

I managed a Netware network for 10 years and in the past two have had to make the switch to AD with W2k and win2003 servers. The switch was a bit difficult at first and what I have seen is that there are advantages to both systems. I like the ability to more easily tie security to the file level in Netware as opposed to the layers that I have seen in Windows. However, I ran into the same problem that others have seen and that is that developers have not been creating server based products compatible with Netware, in the areas that we needed. The expense of making the switch also appears to be much higher but there are a great many tools and server based applications that simply are not availble for Netware. My ideal network would be NDS at the front end to provide security etc. for AD running behind it. Both have their good points. It depends on what you need. The change, in my opinion should be driven by the need to have to. Otherwise it is too expensive to do so. We had to change here for compatibility reasons with other agencies. I have been surprised at the stability with Win2000 and the ease of installation with Win2003.

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We run both

by jtew In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

I my self am a strong backer of Windows based products, knowing them extensively has put food on the table for the past 8 years.
At my current employer, we run both. We?re actually in long, drawn out process to were the Novell servers are going to end up being just file servers. This is because more and more of our applications require windows servers. (This is also why they hired me)
We have the windows servers set up on their own domain; the clients are only on a workgroup with the Novell client installed.
I find that the Novell is easier to administer rights and access as the AD presents security issues to giving more open access than I like to have so that users can get to what they need too.
We could put the clients on a domain and the then use AD to lock down the right but currently that?s more administration then we want to have, however I see it coming in the near future.
FYI Microsoft does have an ldf import/export app that is suppose to work with transferring users/rights to and from Novell nds, however we have not used it.
It?s built by Microsoft so it might only be friendly to the Windows server.

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Novell / AD

by jtew In reply to We run both

Access AD from non ad PC's
I am in an envrionment of 200+ PC's, 8 Novell Servers, and 12 Window servers,
We have a single AD Domain Controller, all other servers are either member alone, or stand servers.
We do not want the end user PC's fully joined to the Domain, however, we want the domain to control access rights to all servers for centralised username, password, access control administration of the servers.
Is there a way, to get the end user PC's to still belong to a workgroup, but yet have access to member servers based on group membership in the domain

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how to connect when user is not in domain

by mschalk In reply to Novell / AD

Quick and dirty -
1. create a batch file that creates a net use connection to a dummy share on the print server - prepopulate with the %username% and domain that the user needs. When they log in it will prompt them for their domain password - that will allow them to print as the correct user.
Then create a similar batch file for each server. As they need to connect tell them to use it to connect.

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compare and come to a decision

by prasanna umarji In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...


I don't have the articles handy, but Novell's e-directory is faster and more reliable for an Enterprise environment than Active Directory. e-directory, or NDS as it was called, has been around since the mid 1990's, and offers a lot of management options for the Enterprise. NDS can manage disk quotas across the enterprise; AD does it on a server by server basis. NDS, in my opinion, has better tools and greater stability and functionality.

AD is not a deadbeat product, however. AD is tied into MS Exchange for Address book information. AD is a well needed step from the NT4 days of server islands out there without Enterprise management. AD can easily be setup to work with WAN sites and their often slow connections.

Perhaps to help us out, you might wish to tell us a bit more about your company, and what your needs are. What is important to you? Email? Printing? Citrix support? Different name spaces on the file servers?

Also, in order to attract comment to this topic, I am breaking your question into a new thread, so that others may notice it, and generate comments.

And between you and me, I would take the Novell.

Prasanna Umarji

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Novell vs AD

by ksraider In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

I have worked with both AD and Novell. I am currently using Novell NDS.

We are a community bank with just two branches and a main office. We have 3 Novell servers- one at each location, 2 SQL servers(W2k3), Patchlink Mangement server (W2k3), and a citrix server W2k.

I was green to Novell until I started here almost 4 years ago, but it was easier to me than AD and less complicated. It seems in AD in order to get one thing to work for a certain user, you had to make a couple changes to some policies that may or may not compromise your whole security schema. With NDS I make a security change at the user or group level and that's it.

We are looking at implementing Zenworks for more mangement features this year. I have really liked the Patchlink product that we just installed this last quarter.

It is sometimes a challenge to find the right software that works perfectly in the NDS environment and I have found that not all printers come with capable network cards for Novell. However, the servers themselves are amazing as far as stability and security. It is not unheard of around here to go 100-200 DAYS without having to reboot the server or add another patch- I think that's what I have really grown to love about Novell. Not sure where this Linux stuff is going but 6.5 should be stable enough for us for now.

I vote with Novell over AD for ease of use as my number 1 reason.

Hope this helps

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A case for both

by The_Fixer In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

I have used both AD and NDS for many years. There are great features in both. I believe it is very difficult to make a case for one over the other as they are both based off of the X.500 directory structure. I got my start in this field using Novell in the old 2.x days. I have seen NDS mature and grow into a very robust and stable platform. From a pure file and print environment, Novell is hands down a better system. Microsoft gains the edge when it comes to applications, services, and ease of use. I have found AD to be easier to configure than NDS when dealing with multiple sites across an enterprise. If you have an NDS structure in place and it works, I wouldn't replace it just for the sake of change. If support of your applications becomes a major issue, then it may well be worth the cost of the conversion.

Good Luck,

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Missing the Point!

by srk-once In reply to Netware NDS vs Microsoft ...

All of the posts in this discussion present valid points to the strengths of both AD and NDS. What is missing? Everyone says Netware and NDS in the same breath. How untrue. eDirectory (formerly NDS) will run "natively" on many different OS's,...Windows, Netware, Linux, etc. You can have eDirectory without a single Netware server, but why would you? I have multiple years of experience with Netware (from 3.11 to 6.5), AD and more recently Linux(RHE 4)w/LDAP(Samba3) and NO EXCHANGE! Setting up new users is a real chore, but do-able. I miss the ease of a single point of management for everything in the IT realm. Point of fact: eDirectory, out of the box can fully control/maintain AD, the same cannot be said of AD over eDirectory. eDirectory tops out at over a billion objects, AD a few hundred thousand. Novell has been doing user/group security and policy management with objects since the late 80's when NDS came into being...I respect their experience and the ease of use of eDirectory.
I service a group of engineers and designers who frequently come to me wanting to get back a file that has been I wish for a Netware file server! Netware has had "built in" SALVAGE forever (since 3.11). I can give a user back multiple versions of any file (that was properly saved) since the last back, or even "in between" backups. Users themselves can do that if the optional Netware client is installed. MS servers cannot do that! Linux servers cannot do that...HOW SAD. If backups, and the speed of such are of any concern to you then you want the fastest OS with regard to file structure...that would be Unix/Linux, followed by Netware and a far, far distant third of MS (they use SMB blocks). So if you switch to MS you need to plan for at least double (maybe triple) the time to do your backups. Food for thought. srk

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