Migration in-depth, part 3: Getting flexibility with Novell's Linux services

An enterprise-wide Linux implementation has been on the wish list of Health First Inc.'s IT department for years Now that Novell Inc. is on the Linux scene, the IT team's wishing well is running over. They're bringing many Novell's Nterprise Linux Services into the nonprofit health care organization's data center and replacing Microsoft Office with OpenOffice on thousands of desktops.

In parts one and two of this in-depth migration story, Health First network administrators Danny J. Wall and Daniel Bray described the IT department's OpenOffice implementation process. Now, Wall tells us how Health First is bringing in and will be using Novell's new Linux services in its 300-server, heterogeneous (Unix, Netware, Linux, and Windows) data center.

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At the same time that you're moving to OpenOffice, you're bringing in Novell's Nterprise Linux Services. Could you summarize what you're doing?
We are rolling out Novell's new Linux services during the spring and summer. We want to have three different services up: iPrint services, resource management and Novell Virtual Office Services (NVOS). By the way, we are not throwing out our NetWare servers; we are just adding to them via Linux. Did Novell's acquisition of SuSE spur that move?
We have worked with Novell for some time, using their Directory Services, GroupWise, BorderManager products and so on. We've found that NetWare is a great operating system, stable and secure, but it's extremely difficult to customize. Windows is easy to customize, but not very secure or stable such as that. Linux is secure and stable, and you can customize it down to a very tight system or just have a simple desktop. So, the combination of Novell and Linux is good for us.

We wanted Linux in here for a few years now. And we have about six Linux servers now that we did from scratch with our own customized build. Now, with Novell's services on Linux available, we can integrate those with the rest of our data center, take advantage of Novell resource management tools and make it easier to manage our Linux servers. What problems were you having that a migration can alleviate?
Novell is porting its major network services over to Linux, and that's encouraged us to start running things like NVOS. NVOS encompasses quite a few things like IPrint that we are already running on NetWare, and ifolder that we have not implemented yet. Currently, we have iPrint running on Netware 6, and it was not the most stable there because of problems with Apache.

With Linux inside, Novell can be customized to fit our environment with open source tools like PHP. So, we will have iPrint on Linux. We were having problems with Apache on Netware 6, and our goal is to move that to a Linux server, too.

Linux is secure and stable, and you can customize it down to a very tight system or just have a simple desktop.
Danny J. Wall
Network administratorHealth First
What is your biggest challenge in this project?
Our issues with Linux will mostly be about how many applications we have in this network. We realize that putting all those applications on Linux isn't going to be that easy. How will you deal with those application issues?
We will approach that in a few different ways. We have created a Web portal for doctors and physicians to use to choose applications that will work easily. They just love it. So does our chief information officer because it saves money. Before that we always bought products that doctors and physicians wanted and found that the applications didn't deliver.

Our next goal is to drive the wedge down deeper and put more departments on MySQL, and see how they run and how happy people are. Gradually, we'll look at various [Novell-Linux-open source] tools and prove that they are viable options, and that they can save money and keep people happy. What will make the Novell project a true success in your eyes?
My biggest goal is having the flexibility to do what we want. When we have problems with the printers, for example, we'll be able to go in and fix them. We don't want anyone after us because it is Microsoft code, and we don't want to not be able to get into it because it is closed code.

As an enterprise, you really need the capability to take care of customers. That is something, in my opinion, that Microsoft hasn't done very well. They don't care what customers need now. Microsoft is just concentrating on making everybody have the same core and the same interface that they give grandma on her home box. Microsoft doesn't care about the enterprise anymore, and making the enterprise serve customers well is my whole direction and goal.

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