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NT Enterprise
Peaceful Coexistence
Despite the strained relationship between Novell and Microsoft, it's possible to bridge the gap between Windows NT Server and NetWare.

-- by Tom Henderson

If you believe the trade press headlines, the networking showdown between Microsoft and Novell is a blowout, with thousands of corporations junking NetWare in favor of Windows NT Server. Now, for the truth. Yes, most experts agree NT Server will someday outsell NetWare. However, only a handful of former NetWare shops-including Pennzoil, retail giant Nordstrom and some portions of the U.S. Department of Defense-have migrated completely to NT. And while additional NetWare shops are seeking to standardize on NT, most large and midsized businesses are using NT Server (for application services) and NetWare (file, print and directory services) in tandem. That's why each operating system sold more than 700,000 copies last year, according to market researcher International Data Corp.

Unfortunately, Novell and Microsoft aren't working together on NetWare/NT integration. The reason: bad blood between the two software titans, dating back to failed merger talks in 1991. As Novell president Joe Marengi puts it, his company's relationship with Microsoft remains "spotty" at best (see the sidebar "Novell's Marengi: On the Record")

As a result, Novell and Microsoft are addressing the integration issue separately. While Novell offers management and directory software for NT (see the sidebar "Novell Owns Up to NT"), Microsoft counters with various NetWare integration tools of its own.

Embrace and replace

Microsoft offers three major tools for integrating NT with NetWare: Gateway Service for NetWare (GSNW), Directory Service Manager for NetWare (DSMN), and File and Print Services for NetWare (FPNW). Using these tools, you can link NT with NetWare today and, if desired, completely migrate your NetWare users to NT tomorrow.

Although adding NT to a NetWare network is an intimidating process for some NetWare administrators, the fear is unfounded. There are some cultural differences and genuine functional differences between NetWare and NT. But Microsoft has gone much further than most people realize to make the NT addition very achievable.

NT issues

Before we describe Microsoft's integration tools at length, you should be aware of two issues. First, you'll be disappointed with NT Advanced Server 3.1 and NT Server 3.5's connectivity to NetWare. If you must use either of these NT versions, don't do it without consulting NetWare/NT integration articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (http://www.microsoft.com/kb/). Second, remember that NT Server is also a client. That is, a user session is always available inside NT server. Also, an NT server can be controlled through Win95 and NT workstations, as well as neighboring NT servers. This model can be confusing for NetWare administrators, who are more familiar with Novell's traditionally non-GUI, dedicated model.

Adding NT to NetWare

Since most companies are already running NetWare, let's focus on adding NT Server 4.0 to an existing NetWare installation. The first step, naturally, is installing NT and choosing which file system (FAT or NTFS) you'd like to use. Choose NTFS for speed and security, or FAT if backward-compatibility with 16-bit Windows-rather than security-is your primary objective.

Next, decide whether this particular NT server is a Primary Domain Controller (PDC), Backup Domain Controller (BDC) or simply a workgroup member. If you never plan to use more than one NT Server (and your NT Server applications don't require a PDC or BDC), choose workgroup. This relieves a nominal amount of overhead (related to database monitoring) on the server.

If, however, this is the first of numerous NT servers you'll install, or BackOffice products are to be used, choose PDC. Finally, if you already have a PDC, then decide whether to make your new NT server a Trusted PDC, BDC or just a member of the PDC domain. If you need additional help with your domain decision, consult Microsoft's Knowledge Base.

During NT's NWLink installation, you'll be asked whether to use IPX Automatic Frame Detection. To speed up boot times, you might want to specify the frame type (Ethernet_802.2, Ethernet_802.3, Ethernet_II or Ethernet_Snap), rather than have NT detect it.

If you're not sure which frame type your existing NetWare network uses, the defaults of "Automatic frame detection" and the default "Internal IPX number" of 0 work for most NT installations.

Gateway Service for NetWare

You'll be happy to learn that NT Server 4.0 includes Gateway Service for NetWare (GSNW), an optional service that lets NT and Microsoft BackOffice products (such as SQL Server and Systems Management Server) communicate with NetWare resources-such as server volumes, print queues and a few components of directory services-across your local or wide area network. GSNW is also available for NT 3.51, but you'll find its installation much easier on NT 4.0.

GSNW requires a NetWare group (called NTGATEWAY) and user account with the same name on one or more NetWare servers. Using this account, NT Server can log onto NetWare. From there, NT becomes a gateway for NT-side users desiring NetWare services (such as access to a NetWare printer or file server)

On the desktop, Windows NT Workstation contains a subset of GSNW called Client Services for NetWare (CSNW). CSNW offers some links to Novell Directory Services (NDS). For instance, if you click on NT Workstation 4.0's Network Neighborhood icon, you can see the NDS tree and drill down into it.

Unfortunately, you can't use NWADMIN (Novell's popular administration utility for NetWare's NDS) on NT Workstation or NT Server without Novell's Client 32 software (available at http://support.novell.com/home/client/winnt/index.htm)

Migrate me

If your primary interest is managing NetWare from NT, or migrating NetWare users to NT, check out MIGRATE.EXE. This file, included with NT 4.0, can move NetWare users into Microsoft's two major NetWare management utilities (which are available separately): File and Print Services for NetWare (FPNW) and Directory Service Manager for NetWare (DSMN). You can purchase the two utilities together for $149.

FPNW is a powerful tool. It lets NT emulate a Novell 3.x file server. That is, a NetWare 3.x server can be replaced by an NT server on the back end, with no change to the NetWare client code running on your desktops. With FPNW, your PCs think they're still talking to NetWare 3.x, rather than to your new NT server.

It's quite difficult to tell the difference between NT running FPNW and a traditional NetWare 3.x server. Commands that expect a bindery-such as USERLIST-don't work with FPNW, but user commands, including MAP, are supported under FPNW.

Of course, FPNW has its downside. First, its log-in script functionality isn't identical to NetWare's, which means administrators must check whether their script syntax works on NT. (Fortunately, most syntax will work.) Also, FPNW can't be managed by NDS; it's a bindery-only emulation.

At one time, Novell considered legal action against FPNW users. The reason: Novell's NetWare client code is licensed for use with NetWare servers, not NT servers. But after some early threats, Novell has not pursued the FPNW matter.

DSM for NetWare

DSMN lets NT manage NetWare 2.x and 3.x domains, though not NetWare 4.x directory services. DSMN replaces the bindery from a Novell 2.x or 3.x server and adds it to an NT Server Primary Domain Controller. This allows a single log-on to systemwide resources, including the NT Domain, its trusted domains and NetWare services that are managed through NT Gateway links. In other words, you generally use DSMN when NT is displacing NetWare as the predominant server in your network.

DSMN is Microsoft's answer to single log-on for both NT and NetWare resources. Once you deploy DSMN, it's difficult to return to a pure NetWare world because NT absorbs NetWare's bindery-and there's no easy way to reverse the process.

When FPNW and DSMN are used in tandem, IPX users see an NT system that's almost indistinguishable from a NetWare 2.x or 3.x server. Drive mappings and many other characteristics have the "look and feel" of NetWare to even the most astute observer. From the administrator's perspective, everything's now managed through NT domain User Administration.

Desktop support

Thankfully, NT Workstation and Win95 offer solid connectivity to NT Server and NetWare. Both client operating systems can access resources on multiple targets concurrently. For example, inside File Manager or My Computer, you might have a mixture of resources representing:

  • homogenous NWLink resources of NetWare or NT
  • a mixture of NetWare via IPX or NWLink
  • and/or a mixture of NT Server via NWLink, NetBEUI or TCP/IP
  • The combinations are seemingly endless, but they do work.

Logging off

Clearly, you've got plenty of choices from Microsoft and Novell for integrating NT and NetWare. You'll likely experience some problems and pratfalls along the way, but linking the two server offerings is finally a manageable process.

Contributing Editor Tom Henderson is vice president of engineering for Indianapolis-based Unitel. Contact Tom in the "Enterprise Administrator" topic of WINDOWS Magazine's areas on America Online and CompuServe, or care of the editor at the e-mail addresses here.

Windows Magazine, April 1997, page NT38.

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