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Microsoft meets enterprise Linux: Novell's Open Enterprise Server 2

An expert discusses Novell Open Enterprise Server 2's new key features: Active Directory functionality and enhanced virtualization capabilities.

At its annual BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, Novell announced the upcoming Open Enterprise Server 2. Two of the key features in this new server product are Active Directory functionality and enhanced virtualization capabilities. Both solutions allow for a better integration with Enterprise Microsoft products.

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Open Enterprise Server is a commercial product that runs on top of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. The essence of the product is the implementation of some of the most important Novell products that originated from the NetWare world, Novell's old operating system that was leading in the early 1990s. Some of these services include Novell's enterprise Directory service, eDirectory, and Novell Storage Services (NSS), the file system that allows administrators to work with a very sophisticated file system security model. By adding this commercial layer to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Novell realizes the concept of "mixed source" on its prime Linux platform.

In the new Open Enterprise Server (OES) 2, of which the first public beta will be released within a few weeks, some new solutions are included that allow for better integration with Microsoft services. One of these is the Active Directory functionality that is now incorporated for the first time in an enterprise Linux-based product.

This new functionality allows companies to run a Linux server that presents itself as an Active Directory Domain Controller, without any visual differences with a Windows Domain Controller. To realize this, two components are used; first, some of the new parameters from the unfinished-as-yet Samba 4 are implemented and secondly, some objects are added to eDirectory that allow for really easy management of the Active Directory parameters. The most important benefit of this solution is that it allows for a much better integration between enterprise Linux and Windows. With OES 2, you can integrate enterprise Linux in a Microsoft environment, or replace the Microsoft environment with Linux.

The second important improvement on OES 2, is the enhanced virtualization. As for interoperability with a Microsoft environment, the open source virtualization product Xen is tuned to support Windows Server 2003. On the Novell side, the Xen kernel is optimized to include Windows, but just as important is the fact that Microsoft has tuned Windows Server 2003 to run in a Xen-paravirtualized environment, thus delivering the best possible performance of virtualized Windows running on Linux.

With Open Enterprise Server 2, Novell shows one of the first major benefits of the cooperation with Microsoft. No matter what the open source community may think about the cooperation, the benefit is for the customer who works with Linux and Microsoft in one environment. With Open Enterprise Server 2 Novell proofs that the cooperation is useful and more is yet to come.

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