Microsoft set to release NetWare integration tools

Just one month after releasing a set of tools to integrate Unix with Windows 2000, Microsoft is getting ready to ship similar tools for Novell's NetWare.

With Services for NetWare 5.0 (SFN5), Microsoft is offering tools to synchronise user account information between Novell Directory Service (NDS) and Microsoft's Active Directory. The package also includes file migration, and file and print server migration support.

The tools are designed to foster interoperability between the two directories and for migration from NetWare to Win 2000. Microsoft's immediate target is the roughly 30 percent of NetWare users who are on Version 3 of that software. Novell has announced that it will cancel support for versions lower than 3.12 by year's end.

The SFN5 tools include Microsoft Directory Synchronization Services (MSDSS), which synchronizes Active Directory with NDS or NetWare 3.x binderies. The SFN5 tools also include the File Migration Utility, which lets users migrate NetWare files and their access control permissions to Win 2000, and the File and Print Services for NetWare 5, which emulates a NetWare file and print interface while using Win 2000 on the back end.

But the focus is on the directory, where Microsoft is creating some confusion with MSDSS. The tool integrates NDS and Active Directory and its Microsoft MetaDirectory Services, which is designed to integrate a host of disparate directories.

"MSDSS should be considered a tactical tool for managing the coexistence of NetWare and Win 2000," says Neil MacDonald, an analyst with the Gartner Group. "If all you want to do is connect NDS and Active Directory and longer term you plan to move entirely to Active Directory, MSDSS is the way to go. If you plan on having NetWare and Active Directory coexist longer term, then Microsoft Metadirectory Services or another metadirectory solution is a better long-term strategy."

Those metadirectory tools include Novell's DirXML, iPlanet's MetaDirectory Services and Critical Path's Injoin Meta-Directory.

With MSDSS, Microsoft has added a Web-based Password Reset Utility since shipping the SFN5 beta in February. The tool lets administrators change passwords in either NDS or Active Directory and sychronize in real time without waiting for scheduled synchronization cycles.

"It is a way to save time when you want to modify passwords," says Todd Brix, product manager for Win 2000 server marketing.

The MSDDS tools also has been modified to recognise NDS extensions such as unique naming conventions or additions to directory schema, which defines the structure of the directory.

SFN5 is slated to ship at the end of this month although evaluation copies are available now. The price is $US149.

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