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Xandros moves into Linux systems management

Does the world need another Linux-Windows systems management suite? Xandros, known until now only as a Linux desktop player, thinks the answer is yes.

When it launches in April, Xandros BridgeWays will be the latest application in what has quickly become an increasingly crowded category of products offering interoperability between Linux and Windows server environments.

Going beyond systems management with Xandros:
Beyond BridgeWays, Xandros will also offer an update to Xandros Standard Server. The update, known only as Standard Server 2 is due out in March. It will add capabilities that include integrated back-up and recovery, Windows Active Directory support and support for migration from Windows Small Business Server. Pricing was not yet available.  

Following closely on the heels of Standard Server 2 will be the tentatively titled Advanced Server, which will include virtualization support and clustering for load balancing. Xen virtualization will be built in, as will support virtualization via VMware, Virtuozzo and OpenVZ.

Xandros Inc., until now known only as a player in the Linux desktop space, promises much of the same functionality with BridgeWays as products from vendors like Centeris, Centrify and Quest Software. On the most basic level, these are all products that allow Linux and Windows servers to work together on the same network, managed via a central point.

But where Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos differentiates BridgeWays from the competition is with an agnostic "single pane of glass" approach.

"If I'm an administrator, I want to be able to do more than have something to just run a Windows console on," Typaldos said. In contrast, the aforementioned vendors offer Windows-like UIs and tools so they are more user-friendly to administrators working with unfamiliar Linux.

To explain the Xandros approach to managing mixed Windows and Linux environments, Typaldos uses a car analogy: "When you go to drive a car, do you have to read manual to use it? You don't, because certain things are the same in every car," he said. "If you know how to set up a Windows server, wouldn't it be nice to be able to set up a Red Hat server as well?"

The BridgeWays suite has four basic components: administration management (for server and service-level configuration and systems management); deployment and management (operating system, applications and patch deployment); systems monitoring (alerts, reporting and remediation); and storage management (integrated management of disparate storage systems across the network). Each component can be purchased separately or as a package called the Enterprise Management Suite. No pricing information is available at this time.

Judith Hurwitz, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Hurwitz and Associates, said Xandros' edge could lie in its modular approach to heterogeneous systems management. "If you are an administrator managing a lot of different systems, each has its own quirks and techniques. The traditional systems in many data centers today by default act as though they are the center of the data center."

More on Linux-Windows management:
Linux and Active Directory -- the plot thickens

Samba team showcases changes to Samba 4.0

Xandros has approached the management problem by automating everything -- from monitoring to basic management tasks to authentication -- using each of its four modules, she said. It's on that point where Xandros may have its best bet differentiating itself from competitors.

"If [administrators] just want configuration management, they'd go with Centeris; or for deployment needs, they'd like an Open Country," she said. Those customers interested in automating more than that could find a fit with Xandros when it arrives [later this spring]."

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