Mixed Network Enterprises, Unite! Likewise Enterprise Available for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Users
I'm sure there's got to be something to the observation that many ideas that are conceived in purity -- capitalism, socialism, open source, closed source, democracy, and even the massive, single platform server farm that sits in a building with specialized cooling and dedicated power and telecommunications lines -- only start to take a general, strong, enduring grip, one with impact, when there's a certain element of an opposing (or at least fundamentally different) approach introduced somewhere in the mix. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's more often a positive step, where the original good idea strikes out into the world and makes its stand.
Maybe these hybridizations are intentional, or maybe they just sort of happen over time -- in the case of network configurations and licensing of software running thereon, it's just as likely to be one or the other (or both) that leads to a mixed network. Taking an unscientific (and quick) look back at Canonical's recent survey on the Ubuntu Server market, the questions posed on platforms used in businesses invariably returned a sum greater than 100%, because so many organizations use multiple server (never mind desktop) environments. In this Ubuntu-specific and somewhat informal survey, it was also apparent that even if Active Directory use wasn't the leading directory service among the respondents, it was one of the more popular services.
This is in no small part why Likewise's software, geared to simplify managing and securing mixed networks using Active Directory services, is now being offered to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 users. The Enterprise version of Likewise's software will be integrated with the SUSE Desktop and available through SUSE 11 repositories.
Aside from better management of Active Directory authentication in mixed networks, the Likewise Enterprise software tailored for the SUSE Enterprise Desktop enables systems administrators to manage the security settings for both machines and user accounts from a central system. It also integrates GNOME GConf group policies, so preference settings can also be centrally managed -- allowing systems administrators to easily set default applications or lockdown desktop-oriented settings.
There are several reasons why this is good news. There are, right now, many mixed networks out there. Making them hasslefree for both systems administrators and non-IT employees is important and unifying interaction makes Linux desktop environments more appealing and efficient to keep using -- and adding -- to growing networks.
The Enterprise edition of Likewise's software is now part of the SUSE Linux Enterprise offering, and organizations who have been using the open source, not commercially supported Likewise Open with SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 are able to upgrade to the Enterprise version if they so choose.
Of course, Likewise doesn't require a specific Linux desktop. Likewise Open is completely open source way to integrate mixed networks with Active Directory, requiring only a single sign on for users without the need for administrators to make Active Directory schema changes. It's free to modify and build upon, so interested companies are welcome to use it as is, or make it their own, if the Enterprise version isn't quite a fit.