Centrify Express: Ubuntu Meets Active Directory?
Like it or not, dealing with Microsoft Active Directory is unavoidable these days for many Ubuntu users and administrators. Luckily, there are a variety of solutions for integrating Linux systems within an AD environment. I recently spoke with representatives from Centrify, one organization that develops tools for this purpose. Here’s what they had to say about Ubuntu, Active Directory, enterprise computing and the future.
Back in February, I wrote about Likewise, one commercial application, aimed mostly at the desktop, designed to streamline the process of joining Linux clients to an AD and save administrators the trouble of configuring samba and winbind manually. Centrify offers similar products, although it has traditionally targeted mostly large enterprises and does not view Likewise as a direct competitor, according to Corey Williams, Director of Product Management at Centrify.
Centrify and Ubuntu
While Red Hat remains the most popular Linux platform among Centrify’s customers, the company’s representatives told me that they’ve seen increasing demand for Ubuntu, especially on servers.
Although they don’t have hard numbers to back up their impressions, anecdotal evidence indicates that Ubuntu’s market share is now at least equal to that of Suse, they said–a notable milestone for Canonical, whose ultimate success may well lie in its ability to establish Ubuntu as a widely used server operating system.
In addition, Williams also told me that Centrify is seeing increasing use of Ubuntu on workstations among its customers, particularly within mid-size organizations in Europe. This represents another important fact for those interested in tracing Ubuntu adoption within the enterprise.
Centrify has responded to the increasing popularity of Ubuntu by pursuing a strong relationship with Canonical. As we noted last November, Centrify officially pledged to support Ubuntu Server Edition 9.10 when it was released in fall 2009. In addition, the company is a gold partner of Canonical and is working to get its software certified for Ubuntu systems.
The newest of those products is Centrify Express, a recently released AD solution designed to help expand the company’s customer base by tailoring offerings to mid-size enterprises, according to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Frank Cabri.
The company hopes Express will appeal to small and medium-sized businesses by simplifying the sales process, while helping to expose more potential customers outside the large-enterprise market to Centrify. The product became available in late June, and the developers plan on advertising it widely beginning later this month, according to Cabri.
For my part, I’ve spent the last week testing Express within an Ubuntu/Red Hat/Windows environment and comparing it with other AD solutions. I haven’t quite used it long enough to explore it fully, but stay tuned for a post about my experience.