When it rains it pours here at SearchEnterpriseLinux, no? Gracing the homepage today are no less than three pieces of content on identity management (cubed, get it? huh?).
Leading off we have a tip from our site expert James Turnbull on the Higgins Project. The headline says it all folks: it’s all about finding identity management alternatives devoid of Microsoft restrictions. From what I read there’s still work to be done, but it’s a start.
Taking the second and third spots are two Jack Loftus originals. The first is a case study on Research In Motion’s use of a product that manages Linux and Unix server identity in Microsoft Active Directory environments, and the other a news brief from Novell’s massive 5,000 person strong BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City featuring Identity Manager 3.5.
RIM has been using a product from Centrify called DirectControl for the better part of the past year with pretty positive results. I’ve written about Centrify (and its competition in Centeris and Quest Software) before, but this was the first time any of those vendors could provide me with a coveted customer contact. The interview with RIM’s Ian Brown was the second time in as many month’s that I heard about admins using Sun’s NIS for password management.
The Novell piece was more of a straightforward news brief on the updates to Identity Manager 3.5, and how it now synchs up with some of Novell’s other log-in and security tools. It great to see that ID Manager works with so many disparate platforms, like Windows, Linux and AIX, because all this localized administration on Linux and Unix boxes is proving to be quite the SOX/security headache. One more ID management app on the radar screens can only help the situation.
Update: SearchEnterpriseLinux.com’s Unix-to-Linux expert, Ken Milberg, tackles the issue of identity management and Active Directory integration with Unix in this expert question.
We tend to focus on the server side of the Linux world here at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, but every once and a while the desktop gets some face time. Back in October, I wrote about how Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth wanted “to make Linux beautiful,” for no other reason than to get a majority of the population on board with open source.
“If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful,” Shuttleworth said. “We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend’s breath away.”
That was in October though, when Novell was making desktop waves with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED). Novell touted SLED 10 for its inclusion of xgl graphics effects and a slick new GUI interface reminiscent of Mac OS X. Now, Novell is at it again — indirectly — with Beryl, an open source fork of the Compiz effort started more than one year ago.
That’s great if you’re a user looking for incredible 3-D graphics on your desktop, but I have a feeling IT managers overseeing said desktops could care less about such things. Beryl might be included the latest Ubuntu release, however, and we all know how those guys feel about making inroads into the enterprise desktop and server arenas. Would a ‘gorgeous’ Linux desktop have a better chance in the enterprise than a bare bones one? You tell me.
The big splash with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 was, of course, Xen. That’s what’s radically different about the OS now, and is naturally where all of the buzz has been generated following last week’s launch.
But there is a new support model being offered up by Red Hat to complement physical features of RHEL 5, and it’s only one page long. RH’s Ian Gray touted the simplicity of the legalese-free support documentation during the launch day webcast from San Francisco with a few quotes (included in SearchEnterpriseLinux.com’s RHEL5 launch day coverage), but here’s what it all boils down to:
* Bug fixes
Do not support
* Modified RPMs
* Code development
* System and network design
* Implementation and development of security rules and policies
* Red Hat Extras/Supplementary channel
* Technology and preview features
I’m going out into the wilds of the software world this week to find some commentary on this, so keep an eye out for more on RH’s new approach to supporting Linux.
Today I talked to Red Hat integrator Troy Webb — managing partner, InCentric Solutions, LLC — and Lotus on Linux was the first subject he brought up. Turns out Lotus on Linux has a big money angle in two ways. InCentric has helped about a dozen businesses moving Lotus off Windows and onto RHEL4 in the past year. The businesses’ primary reason for moving: Microsoft’s licensing practice was not favorable.
“People on Lotus are often anti-Exchange and don’t lean toward Microsoft anyway. Once they found out that the performance of RHEL4 was a good if not better, they greenlighted the project. License costs have almost always been the reason for the change. The high cost of buying Microsoft software often leaves businesses with so little money to buy services. They buy the software and then have to wait until the next month’s budget kicks in before they can buy services to do anything with the software, which shortens time to market and time to capitalize on the initial investment.”
Money matters convinced InCentric to go to Linux in the first place and to Lotus-on-Linux users with a Linux pitch. The firm would not have gone into the Linux business without IBM’s handouts to resellers who got customers to put IBM products on Linux and, later, to pitch Lotus-to-Linux migration.
Linux stopped being a hard sell once RHEL4’s performance and reliability was proven in so many business settings, Webb says. Nowadays, he adds, customers are suggesting Linux in initial conversations with InCentric.
More on Lotus today:
It didn’t take Michael Dolan long to praise the new release on his blog, saying that it’s “incredibily refreshing”, better than 7 and runs well on Linux.
The pain of upgrading is rapidly diminishing, thanks to virtualization. That’s the happy story I heard from Paul Cormier, Red Hat vice president of engineering, in a coversation following the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 announcement session. You can just pack that RHEL4 ecosystem in a suitcase and carry it on over to RHEL5.
Cormier explained that moving up to a new release has been a hassle because the ecosystem has to move with the operating system. That means, for instance, that all your apps have to be certified on that new OS. Said Cormier:
“Virtualization splits that so that now they can move independently without waiting for ISVs to get ready. So this is really a big deal. You can go to RHEL5 and pick up all the storage capabilities, etc., and if your ISV isn’t ready with a RHEL5 certification, then just run RHEL5 with a RHEL4 guest. That was always a big issue with us with our OEM partners when we make that big change. Now we can separate the guest.”
You can do your migration in pieces, running apps on either RHEL4 or RHEL5 in guest OSes on virtual machines.
“If you can run a RHEL4 guest it will be an easy migration,” said Cormier. “While you’re migrating, if you still want to run on RHEL4 and test everything on RHEL5 on a guest OS, you can. The possibilities are unlimited, thanks to virtualization.”
This sounds super, just as long as you can track what RHEL4 app or RHEL5 app is running on which VM and what’s in production and what’s not. But that’s another story…
Looking for an interoperability hook at the Red Hat RHEL5 party in San Francisco took me down two familiar paths as Paul Cormier, Red Hat vice president of engineering, said that virtualization via the guest OS and Samba were the mainstays of their virtually non-existent interop program.
During the post-announcement Q&A, I asked Cormier what hope there is for IT managers struggling day-to-day with Linux-Windows interoperability issues. He said:
“We’re looking at interoperability from the Samba perspective. It’s sort of there today, but not quite there, and what are we going to do about that? One of the things we did is get people from the Samba team to come over to Red Hat is the past few months. That team is working with our Directory team, you’ll see us do a lot more work on interoperability in the next few months. We’re going to make it so that there’s seamless interoperability between our Directory and Active Directory, and Samba will the linchpin for that. With our subscription model, you’ll see this support start to come in not two years from now but under the RHEL5 subscription soon. The reality is it’s heterogeneous environments out there. A lot of [interoperability will come] in the Samba space, and we’ve moving quickly down that path.”
So, folks, you can run Windows as a virtual machine on Linux or wait for Microsoft to offer SUSE Linux guest support. Other than that, it’s the same old interop story: Samba good old Samba is your closest and only friend.
I wasn’t actually at th Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 launch today (I watched the webcast), so I have no idea if there were balloons or clowns, but from the look of their web site, I am quite certain that someone from their marketing department has been playing Katamari Damacy (Red Hat video).
The little cartoon people covering Red Hat’s homepage weren’t what caught my eye however — or should I say ear. It was SearchEnterpriseLinux.com site editor Jan Stafford’s voice, asking Red Hat executives about interoperability with Microsoft Windows. In the article I posted today covering the launch of RHEL5, I included the exchange, because it was telling about how much work remains to be done with virtualization, Linux and Windows, and interoperability.
“We’ve tested Windows on top of our virtual platform. It works,” Cormier said. “You will see from us some level of support for Windows on our platforms in the coming months. We’re not prepared to do it now.”
Cormier could not say the same for a Red Hat guest on Windows virtualization. “Our guest on a Microsoft platform — a lot of that is up to Microsoft. We don’t control the Microsoft platform, so up to them. But you’ll see us support Microsoft guests down the road,” he said.
There is going to be a TON of information on all of this coming down the pipeline in 2007, to be sure. That 2007 year in review piece is practically writing itself.
Call me uninformed, but I’d really like to know why Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) is in Ubuntu Feisty Fawn.
I’ve been corresponding with blogger and VC Jean-Yves Quentel about this point because of his experience with Ubuntu. Here’s what he had to say today about KVM:
While it makes sense for RHEL to offer KVM, I wonder what exactly the Ubuntu team has in mind. Do they want to ease the migration of the Windows users to Ubuntu by making it easier to run the Windows programs that really can’t do without and are not being ported to Linux (games, perhaps)? Would it even work? Do they want to go after the enterprise/server market in a big way now? That’d be bad news for Red Hat and even worse for Mandriva.
Judging from comments made at last month’s UbuCon in New York City, I’d say the answer to that last server question is probably yes.
In case you missed all the preview articles and blog posts on the topic here at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is set to launch today around 9 a.m. Pacific. If you’re in San Francisco, you can try and crash the party.
From Red Hat PR:
The event will be held tomorrow at the Metreon Action Theatre, Level 2 (http://westfield.com/metreon/) at 9am. If you are unable to attend there will also be a live webcast of the event starting at 9am PST/12pm EST. To access the webcast, please go to http://www.redhat.com prior to the start of the event for more information.
You can rub elbows with me in the webcast if you’d like; then look for a quick turnaround article on SearchEnterpriseLinux.com covering some of the community reaction to RHEL5.
In his latest blog entry over at Novell, CTO and Scattergories double word score Jeff Jaffe puts down a little more pavement for the interoperability roadmap between Novell and Microsoft.
Jaffe said at this stage Novell is focused on “walking before they run” and “demonstrations” – with more details of the roadmap to come out later. The demonstrations are:
- Linux application access to Microsoft’s SharePoint server. Interoperable identities based on Active Directory or eDirectory will all be able to access SharePoint server.
- Create interoperable methods to provide auditable identities that satisfy credential requirements for Web applications.
- Identity interoperability in a mixed Novell / Microsoft environment.
Their previous roadmap-related announcement from February was great if you follow virtualization, not so great if you’re like me and were looking for some ID management news that heterogeneous data center folks like you could use. It was next to nil on that front, and not even worth an article. This is a bit better, but I’m beginning to wonder if they’re actually walking in reverse on this particular issue?