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June 3, 2011
Selling data storage is like running a grocery store — it may not be the most glorious or exciting corner of the market, but it’s one for which demand is relatively constant. And the data storage channel got a little larger this week with the debut of Likewise Storage Services. Here’s the scoop, and why it matters.
Until now, Likewise remained focused pretty squarely on cross-platform authentication services, specializing in developing solutions for integrating Windows, OS X, Linux and other Unix environments. The addition of storage services to its lineup thus represents a major new undertaking for the company, one which both broadens its scope and pushes its strategy in new directions.
Likewise Storage Services draw on the organization’s traditional expertise, however, since the new offering is oriented around simplifying data storage across different operating systems. According to the company’s press release:
Likewise Storage Services is a new offering that adds an NFS (network file system) module to the widely used Likewise CIFS platform — already licensed by industry leaders like EMC-DataDomain, HP, Isilon and other large storage companies.
Likewise Storage Services offers a consistent security model for file-based access across Linux, Unix and Windows. Likewise Storage Services delivers cross-platform, integrated storage across physical, virtual and cloud environments — providing both access to and control of a company’s intellectual assets, from Windows, Unix, and Linux systems, with integrated identity and access management.
The release also lists the technical features, which include:
Multi-threaded, modular, user-space architecture
Multi-tenant support for authenticating users in disparate Microsoft Active Directory domains
Modern implementation of SMB, SMB2, and NFS v3 remote file protocols, with future support for NFS v4.x
Complete support for the full breadth of Windows access control list rights
Consistent access semantics across different network protocol clients
Remote management capabilities from Windows applications
Support for RPC compatibility with Windows applications including commonly used network transports such as TCP/IP and dynamically loadable named pipes.
For the time being, the new product is available only for OEMs, but Likewise promises a release for end-users by early fall.
SMB/CIFS and NFS, the protocols on which Likewise’s latest solution is based, are not new, nor is Likewise the first organization to use them to provide cross-platform file sharing. The open source Samba project has made that possible for years. Likewise Storage Services, however, is designed to add value on three major fronts:
Deployment, which will be simpler than traditional DIY Samba configuration
Security (and, by extension, policy-compliance), since Likewise Storage Services focus on delivering comprehensive and consistent security policies out-of-the-box
Identity management, which is integrated into the product
For organizations with the resources and manpower to configure Samba and NFS on their own, Likewise’s new offering may be of little interest. But for the rest of us, it promises to make file-sharing across different platforms easier and more reliable.
At the same time, the Likewise Storage Services FUSE module lets you mount remote Windows shares on a Linux computer to access folders and files.
Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.
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