New Centeris Application Unifies Linux, Unix, Windows

Centeris released on Tuesday a product that lets network administrators manage multiple environments on the same computer.

Likewise Identify 3.0 is a cross-platform application that joins Linux and Unix machines to a Windows Active Directory. This major upgrade extends directories to all of the structures on a network with one password, Centeris officials said.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based Centeris develops Windows and Linux server management tools for mid-market and enterprise operations. It released Likewise Version 1.0 last year to allow network administrators to merge Windows OS and Linux servers onto the same network.

The Windows/Linux interoperability space is heating up and is getting significant attention from large technology players, Centeris officials said.

“The two main benefits of Likewise Identity are reducing cost by efficiency and leveraging the infrastructure. The second is improving security,” Chuck Mount, Centeris’ vice president of marketing, told LinuxInsider.

Better Management

Likewise Identity 3.0 has two main parts. The first part joins computers running the Linux OS to the Windows Active Directory so system administrators have access to all management tools from a single machine. The second part gives users more controls in the Unix environment.

The dual functionality lets all users on the network maintain their system identity — based on Linux permissions — into other parts of the system, explained Manny Vellon, Centeris’ vice president of products. This is an important feature for system administrators because many companies are running multiple platforms.

“Without this capability, a system administrator has to manually edit each user’s access to every part of the network depending on the platforms being used,” said Vellon. “Now administrators can use the same Windows’ password to reach all platforms.”

Enhanced Security

Vellon further explained that Likewise Identity 3.0 lets system administrators apply group policies from Microsoft Windows to the Unix and Linux operating systems. This is a benefit to using security policies, he said.

For example, the new software version allows system administrators to specify a Sudo file for all platforms. This gives system administrators an easier means of controlling what users can do in an application.

Unix and Linux systems use a set of Sudo shell commands to let ordinary users perform certain tasks as the root or other privileged user.

How It Works

The Likewise Admin Console is installed on the systems administrator’s Windows console. The Likewise Admin Agent is remotely installed over the network to Linux servers in the data center or back office. This results in users being able to use a single sign-on for access to all cross-platform applications.

Using the Likewise Admin Console, the system administrator can easily configure Linux server roles. Deploying the Single Agent Install Architecture provides flexible modes of Active Directory integration, extending the Active Directory Group Policy to both Linux and UNIX systems.

The Likewise Identity Agents, once installed on Linux, UNIX or Solaris machines, become Active Directory clients. These machines are then joined to Active Directory from a graphical tool or through deployment scripts.

The Likewise Identity Management Tools are used to configure AD to store UNIX and Linux information. System administrators use existing AD management tools to manage non-Windows systems and configure Group Policies for UNIX and Linux.

Cost and Availability

Pricing for Likewise Identity is based on the number of servers and workstations. The cost per server is US$249, and the cost per workstation is $49.

Mount said that Centeris will make available a 30-day free trial version of the new product for download on Jan. 23.

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