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To make a multivendor environment work effectively, the server's operating systems, the clients' operating system, and the redirectors must be compatible. Operating systems from different vendors use different methods to access files across a network. Windows Oss use the Common Internet File System (CIFS), which is just a newer version of the SMB protocol. Native to Linux and UNIX is the Network File System (NFS). The native Macintosh protocol for accessing network files, which is part of the Apple Talk protocol suite, is Apple Talk Filing Protocol(AFP), and Novell Net Ware uses. Net Ware Core Protocol (NCP).
There are two basic ways to get the file systems from different Oss to communicate: from the client end and from the server end. The solution you choose depends on which vendors' products you want to interconnect.
It's the job of the client's redirector to intercept messages from the client and forward those messages to the correct server if a request can't be fulfilled locally. In a multivendor environment, multiple redirectors can be loaded on to a single client to facilitate connections to different vendors' servers. This setup is called a client-based multivendor solution. To implement a server-based multivendor solution, software must be loaded on the server to provide services for a particular client.
The most notable examples of these NOSs include Novell Net Ware, Windows Server 2000/2003, UNIX, and Linux.
All Windows OSs, starting with Windows for Workgroups, include the Microsoft redirector, Client for Microsoft Networks. The Microsoft redirector is designed to access CIFS or SMB-based file systems across a network. Installing the OS installs the Microsoft redirector automatically. The installation process loads all required drivers and edits the startup files so that when the computer restarts, the redirector is in place, ready for immediate use.
In addition, the server component, called File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, used for sharing files and printers via CIFS or the older SMB, is installed on Windows Oss automatically, allowing users of Windows computers to share their own files and printers with other network users easily. The automatic installation of both client and server versions makes peer-to-peer networking exceedingly convenient.
The Obstacles and Incompatibilities in a Multivendor Networking Environment
There are some obstacles and incompatibilities that may arise in a multivendor networking environment. They are protocol incompatibilities, software and hardware design flaws, resource limitations, undetected errors, Form-factor mechanical issues, user interface problems, update cycle issues, feature bundling, obsolescence cycle issues, personnel costs, spare parts costs.
Protocol incompatibilities - Two vendors may choose to implement a different subset of a standard or implement ambiguous standards in different ways. In some cases there is no standard, or it is a proposed standard. Some or all of the functions may be unusable due to incompatibilities.
Software and hardware design flaws - Companies often test their products as a system but seldom test with equipment from other vendors. Design errors may cause devices to work only with devices from the same vendor.
Resource limitations - A device from one vendor may indirectly require a level of resources from other devices that they are not able to provide. One device may only expect 20 network sessions while the other may expect 100.
Undetected errors - Slight differences in protocol implementations can cause information to be changed and in some cases it is not caught by error detection features of the protocols.
Terminology differences - When trying to design and configure a system, two vendors may use completely different terminology, or interperate some specifications differently. That can result in not configured systems or performance issues.
Form - factor mechanical issues - Products from different vendors may require different mounting hardware, racks, ventilation, etc. That can make it difficult to combine them into a single physical location or can result in inefficient use of available space.
User interface problems - The user interface for products from different vendors may be so different that it becomes complicated to maintain or use the system. Users will tend to become familiar with the most frequently used interfaces and may do things incorrectly or spend excessive time on the other parts of the system.
Update cycle issues - Two different vendors may introduce changes or bug fixes at different times and it may be necessary to wait for all the vendors to have compatible product updates. This is also a problem with products from a single vendor, but worse with multiple vendors.
The Novell Net Ware NOS provides file and print services for the client OSs. Novell Net Storage provides access to a Net Ware network's resources through any Web browser, so users can log on and access their files and printers. Net Storage service allowing users to access files remotely. This type of Web-based access to traditional file and print services is growing in popularity and extends to handle computing devices as workforces become increasingly mobile.
Nearly every distribution of Linux includes a wealth of network services. These services include an implementation of Network File System (NFS), which is a distributed file system native to UNIX and Linux system. NFS permits networked machines to export portions of their local file systems and make them available to authorized users elsewhere on the network. NFS also supports printer sharing, but its file and print services appear most commonly in multivendor networks where PCs are in the minority and the UNIX or Linux OS predominates. Because enabling PC clients to access NFS requires adding software to those clients, many Linux administrators prefer to add the Samba service to their Linux servers instead. Samba is named after the Server Message Block (SMB) services it adds to a UNIX or Linux host. There are three reasons of using Samba. The first reason is that Samba is a server-based solution, software and services need to be installed only on a fairly small number of servers rather than a large number of clients. The second is Samba, an open source software product, can download it free from the Internet and install and use it without charge. The last is Samba allows a Linux or UNIX machine to masquerade as a native Microsoft network server, Windows clients need no extra software to access its services. Samba-based resources appear in a Windows browse list along with other network nodes and their file and print shares. Samba also permits Linux hosts to connect to Windows shared folders.
Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a major departure from previous Mac OS versions. This Mac OS includes network client software to run in a Macintosh, Windows, or UNIX environment. It provides support for native Windows file sharing through SMB services. In addition, because Mac OS X is built on a UNIX core, it's right at home in a UNIX environment.
Microsoft in a Novell Network
To connect a Windows Vista or Windows XP Professional client to a Novell Net Ware network running the IPX/SPX protocol, NWLink and the Microsoft version of the Net Ware requester, Client Service for Net Ware (CSNW), must be loaded on that Windows machine. When connecting a Windows Server 2003 system to a Net Ware network, NWLink as well as Gateway Services for Net Ware (GSNW) must be loaded on the Windows server. In this arrangement, the Windows server running GSNW establishes a connection with a Net Ware server. The administrator of the Windows server creates share points that are pointers to file folders on a Net Ware Server. Microsoft clients can access those share points as though they were normal shared folders on the Windows server. In reality, however, the Windows server retrieves data from the Net Ware server when access to a share point is requested.
Included in every Macintosh are the OS files and the hardware required to communicate in an Apple Talk network. The AppleShare networking software automatically provides file sharing and includes a print server that allows computers to share printers.
MS-DOS has no built-in network capabilities, but each NOS vendor offers utilities to allow MS-DOS clients to connect to servers of all four types - Microsoft, Novell, Linux, and Apple. Also, each utility can coexist with other utilities to provide MS-DOS client connections to all servers.