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Microsoft Posts Beta of Services for Unix 2.0

As discussed by Bill Gates at the Workstation Leadership Forum on June 30, Microsoft today made Services for Unix (SFU) 2.0 available on its Web site.

SFU is a Windows NT 4.0 add-on pack of UNIX interoperability components that helps customers integrate NT Workstation and NT Server with existing UNIX-based workstations and servers.

Microsoft claims that the SFU 2.0 add-on pack will further its customers’ ability to integrate Windows NT and Windows 2000 into existing UNIX-based networks by providing interoperability and manageability across both platforms.

New features in the forthcoming version are designed to benefit customers by reducing administration cost, increasing manageability of heterogeneous networks and providing additional resource sharing between computing environments. These new features include a Gateway for NFS, Microsoft Software Installer (MSI) and Microsoft Management Console (MMC) integration, additional Unix utilities and scripts and the NIS Source File Migration Wizard and Server for NIS.

SFU v2.0 provides a Gateway for NFS that installs on Windows NT Server and Windows 2000 Server. This gateway enables users of Windows 9x, Windows NT Workstation and Windows 2000 Professional to mount and access files on UNIX and other systems acting as NFS servers without having SFU installed locally on each Windows client.

Since SFU v2 integrates the MMC with MSI technology, it is now easier to deploy, remove, install on-demand, or even maintain due to its self-healing capabilities. SFU v2 also supports Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), which provides an infrastructure built on industry standards that enable the Windows platform to simplify managing other enterprise platforms and devices, including ones running in non-Windows environments. Finally, not only will IT be able administer SFU v2 via the command line, but components of SFU v2 can be administered through MMC's single unified console as well.

Microsoft also added twenty Unix utilities and scripts, including better scripting support for existing PERL scripts through ActiveState's ActivePERL, ps, kill, diff, rshd, and rlogin. Now with SFU v2, UNIX customers will have a larger set of common and familiar tools available as part of Windows NT, as they would in their own UNIX environment. This integration gives customers the ability to automate common process and administrative tasks with little or no change to their existing scripts across both Windows NT and Unix platforms.

In order to consolidate and centrally manage heterogeneous network environments, SFU v2 provides the ability to take advantage of the Windows 2000 Active Directory by providing an NIS source file migration wizard and Server for NIS. With Server for NIS, both the NIS domain and a Windows 2000 domain can co-exist under one network. Since Server for NIS was designed to be an integral part of Windows 2000, authentication and administration can now be performed from a single point using Active Directory.

As usual, release date of the final product will depend on feedback from beta customers, but Microsoft is hoping to release SFU 2.0 during the first quarter of next year. --Thomas Sullivan

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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