Having recently joined the Core Services team this will be my very first (of many) blogs as Senior Core Services Officer.
One company we work closely with in IT Services is Salford Software, based in Mancheser our reseller of choice for all Novell products and support invited us to their ‘Technical Update Day’ on the 30th October.
So it was time to cram the team into a Grab ‘n Go car and head to Lancashire Cricket Club for the event that was designed to update there customers with the changes in the next releases of Novell products.
Misjudging the M62 traffic we arrived there in plenty of time, in fact we were the first people there which allowed us to take advantage of the jugs of coffee and plates of biscuits laid on for us! A good start to be fair!……
First up was Matt Dunkin from Salford Software, now pre-sales he talked about Novell’s ZenWorks Configuration Manager.
Edge Hill has been using ZenWorks (Zen) for years now in some degree to deliver policy driven network applications to the staff and students desktop as well as enabling us to remote control users pc’s when they phone the IT helpdesk for support.
Historically the ZenWorks suite of applications has soley used Novell eDirectory for the storage of it’s configuration objects and polices. As Matt pointed out 60% of all ZenWorks customers (new and old) are now Microsoft only houses.
The big change in this release is that they have moved all the ZenWorks config into a SQL database (supported currently are Microsoft SQL Server with Oracle support coming in a later service pack expected Feb 2008). I would of liked to see that the other way round but thats my old faithfull Oracle DBA side coming through!
With the ZenWorks config out the way this leaves the user authentication to any supported LDAP directory, Novell eDirectory/Active Directory etc.
This move increases the market for the product greatly and they are hoping for a bigger adoption of ZenWorks suite across the board.
Some new features of the new version include:
- A single web Interface to configure the all parts of the ZenWorks system
- Microsoft Vista support for desktop management
- All communications between individual components now utilize the SOAP protocol and not NCP
- The software now updates itself from update repositories on the internet
- The software is more scalable as you can run individual components/tasks on separate dedicated servers as before one server did everything.
Next on the stage was Chris Hyde from Novell talking about the new features in Open Enterprise Server 2 on Linux. Basically this is the suite of Novell Services (File Storage/Printing/GroupWise Email/Cluster Services and eDirectory etc) running on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 platform.
You can see a big push from Novell now to get NetWare customers to migrate all the servers to the Linux platform. With this release of OES they are providing an optimized version of NetWare 6.5 that runs in the Xen virtual environment. There intention, that customers migrate to OES on Linux for new services and move there old NetWare boxes that they can’t do without and turn them into virtual machines. As an when they are ready customers can migrate there NetWare services to the Linux equivalents.
Die hard NetWare fans may see this as the end of NetWare but an advantage of virtualizing is that soon hardware support for the NetWare OS will no longer continue to exist but it will run happily on newer hardware for years to come under a virtual environment as it won’t know the difference!
One of the features arriving in OES 2 that I am excited about is DST, your thinking not another 3 letter acronym! This stands for ‘Dynamic Storage Technology’ and Novell are raving about this. Basically it allows customers to define policies to recognize active and stale data and automatically moves it to the appropriate storage device as the data’s status changes. You can use this to put active (more important) data on high-end storage devices such as your Netapp SAN for quick access with regular nightly backups and inactive or stale data (maybe data not accessing for months/years, or less business critical data such as MP3s, Images etc) can be moved automatically to the cheaper, slower storage that has a less regular backup schedule. This enables better use of your expensive storage hardware and reduces backup times and administration.
All this is seamless to you, the end user, you still only see one volume! For example a staff or students home directory (F: drive) appears the same as it always has even though some of your files may be stored on the cheaper kit whereas your important documents you update regularly are getting a nightly backup and can be accessed fast!
Once lunch was polished off, Matt again took the stage to discuss Novell Cluster Services for Linux. We have been using Cluster Services on NetWare for a couple of years now to run services such as GroupWise Email, Shared Directories and Home Directories, the University Intranet. In this session we were shown some tips ‘n tricks Salford Software have picked up from past projects at other institutions and how to successfully install and maintain a stable and highly available cluster of resources using OES 2 on Linux. This will be something we as a team will be looking at in the near future for sure.
As the day drew to a close and the bottles of mineral water were running at a premium Chris Hyde introduced the final demo about a product called ‘Sentinal from Novell’.
This is a security Information and Event Management solution that Novell have recently procured that gathers and correlates security and non-security information from across an organization’s networked infrastructure e.g User Login Failures, Password Changes, Firewall logs, Unix Syslogs, Windows event logs and server access logs. The list of devices and types of information it can gather is endless.
This product sucks in all the raw data from all your various sources and normalizes it into some kind of order to make sense of the data and turn it into useful information, you can then report on this or have it alert you to some event problem, e.g repeated unauthorized access from an IP address or user password failures from 2 geographical locations in close succession or server exploits. You can even get it to fire some work flow off, for example to disable a network account and email some admin user to tell them what has happened and who to deal with next.
As the IT Services department we deal with lots of different pieces of hardware and software ranging from network switches to LDAP servers to Finance Applications each of which has it’s own discrete logging mechanisms, this makes seeing the bigger picture alot more difficult but I can see uses for this software to pull in all this information into a central repository and allow us to report more easily across the whole range of systems…..This software does it all and could be overkill for Edge Hill but it’s at least food for thought!
I found the day very useful and informative and even though we may not get around to implementing all the software goodies mentioned in the near future we can at least find a use for the conference freebies!!!