When Novell Inc. acquired SuSE Linux AG and its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server product, the move left many—including sites that depend on NetWare—wondering whether the acquisition signaled the end of the road for Novells once-dominant network operating system. Novell has indeed announced that there will be no further standalone NetWare releases. Rather, the operating system will continue to live on as an underlying platform for Novells Open Enterprise Server.
Far from sounding a death knell for NetWare, however, the work Novell has done to plaster over the differences between NetWare and Linux in OES should extend the life of NetWare as a platform. This is good news for NetWare shops that arent ready to migrate off this stalwart platform.
After reviewing OES 1.0 , its clear to us that OES/Linux hasnt yet caught up to its NetWare-based sibling in terms of the network services each is prepared to offer.
Aside from the differences in the features that Novell hasnt yet ported to OES/Linux, we found installing OES was smoother on the NetWare platform. For instance, we appreciated OES/NetWares option of installing an OES box with a particular role, such as for a DNS/DHCP (Domain Name System/Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server or a premigration server. The ability to install OES boxes with assigned roles is a helpful feature that the OES/Linux installation process doesnt yet offer.
We also appreciated that OES/NetWare installation required just two disks versus the six required to install OES/Linux. As more of a general-purpose operating system than NetWare, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server ships with considerably more software, including a great many software packages that have nothing to do with running a server.
Of course, breadth of available software is the prime virtue of OES/Linux. This breadth does offer companies the option of running more applications on a single OES machine, thanks to Linuxs wider software compatibility—a virtue that is certainly helpful in server consolidation scenarios.
However, theres something to be said for choosing just the right tool for the job, and for the job of providing core enterprise network services, NetWare performs as well as or better than any other network operating system weve tested.
Whats more, with growing availability and performance gains in the area of server virtualization, companies can pursue server consolidation goals without ditching their installed, reliably performing components.
The tools Novell has added for simplifying administration between the two platforms will not only make life easier for NetWare administrators looking to branch off into Linux but will also benefit Linux administrators interested in running NetWare.