VMworld: Likewise to Unveil CIFS Virtual Appliance
Likewise plans to unveil yet another reason to dump physical servers in favor of virtualized systems at VMworld (Aug. 30-Sept. 2, San Francisco). The effort involves a CIFS file server. The catch: it’s only available for VMware, at least for now–but support for other virtualization platforms remains a possibility.
In the meantime, Likewise is trying to make some news of its own. The company specializes in software for integrating Linux and OS X machines into a Windows environment. Its most popular product, GPL-licensed Likewise Open, simplifies the process of joining Unix computers to an Active Directory domain. Likewise Enterprise, which is closed-source and requires the purchase of a license, adds a suite of management tools and other features to those provided by the free Open offering.
Likewise CIFS is designed to solve another frequent headache for administrators of mixed Unix/Windows networks: file sharing. As the developers explain:
Likewise-CIFS provides industrial-strength client-side and server-side SMB/CIFS support so Microsoft Windows clients can access folders and files on Linux, Unix, and Mac computers.
At the same time, the Likewise CIFS FUSE module lets you mount remote Windows shares on a Linux computer to access folders and files. You can remotely manage Likewise CIFS File Server on Linux and Unix machines by using popular Microsoft Windows tools.
For the most part, of course, the functionality provided by Likewise CIFS isn’t new. The open-source samba project offers free tools that can do most of the same things. But samba can be pretty complicated to set up and deploy securely and robustly, especially on large and complex enterprise networks. The Likewise solution is designed to simplify file-sharing configuration while maintaining compatibility with native Microsoft tools, which samba can’t always guarantee.
Likewise CIFS’s second unique feature, to be unveiled next week at VMworld, is its availability as a virtual appliance, which simplifies the task of deployment.
For now, VMware will be the only virtualization platform supported by the appliance. But a Likewise representative promises that “all options are on the table,” so perhaps we’ll see an expansion of the list of supported hypervisors in the future.
And that’s important. After all, as The VAR Guy points out in a list of virtualization trends to watch closely, open-source hypervisors–in particular KVM–are enjoying increasing popularity as free alternatives to VMware’s enterprise options, which can get pricey quickly.
Even as it builds its relationship with VMware, Likewise would do well to consider rolling out a virtual appliance for KVM as well in order to ensure its appeal for enterprises that prefer open-source virtualization.