Although it was slated for release in NetWare 4.0, Novell Inc.’s Storage Management Services (SMS), a technology designed to ease backup by integrating much backup processing into NetWare itself, won’t be delivered entirely in 4.0, officials confirmed.
“We’re waiting for it, and our customers are clamoring for it,” said one tape-backup vendor who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s late and incomplete. Users need it, and [not delivering it] is hurting users.”
SMS is an integrated group of technologies that will make it easier for tape-backup software to perform backup functions. The technology is partially implemented in NetWare 3.11 with a feature called S-backup, which provides low-level backup functionality. This is supported and enhanced by many vendors, including Sytron Inc., Cheyenne Software Inc. and Legato Inc.
Full-blown SMS will provide utilities called Target Service Agents (TSAs) for all client operating environments supported by NetWare, including Unix, Windows, OS/2 and the Macintosh, as well as NetWare server operating system and directory files, said Novell officials. These TSAs will prepackage data from the different environments so backup software can handle it in a consistent format.
This will allow backup vendors to write software to backup NetWare data from multiple operating systems on a single tape. SMS will also provide a single data format for backups so backup software makers don’t have to rewrite their software for each new version of NetWare, said officials.
Currently, the only TSA available and operational is for DOS (which also supports Windows), although Novell is aiming to supply the TSA for OS/2 in NetWare 4.0, according to Bob Young, vice president of marketing for NetWare, in Provo, Utah.
“The TSA for OS/2 will almost certainly be available in NetWare 4.0 — they are on track to be part of 4.0,” he said.
The TSA for the Macintosh is expected to be included in a subsequent release of NetWare shortly after 4.0 is shipped, Young said. The Unix TSA will come in yet another release due sometime this year, he said.
“We do a lot of CAD/CAM-related work, and a lot of the work is done in Unix and some of our engineers are Mac people,” said Ken Wagers, chief financial officer at Erbtec Engineering Inc., a radio-amplifier manufacturer in Boulder, Colo. “[Storage] is one of the key things that’s keeping us from considering those platforms. I’m not terribly comfortable having a workstation I can’t back up centrally.”
Tape-backup vendors believe Novell has dropped the ball on SMS development and that their development efforts for next-generation backup software are hampered by the networking giant’s delay in delivering the technology.
“We don’t feel comfortable supporting SMS until they’re done. It’s holding back significant development and interoperability,” said one tape-backup vendor who did not wish to be identified.
The vendors cited management turnover as a possible cause for the delay. Former Novell product manager William Mason was promoted last October to product line manager for the NetWare products division, and Novell still has not replaced him.
Industry analysts say the delay in delivering SMS will impede the next wave of backup software, but every piece of SMS that gets released will bring the backup industry closer to the goal of advanced storage management.
“We need SMS bad, and we need it to move ahead in storage management,” said Mike Peterson, president of Peripheral Strategies Inc., a market researcher in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It’s critically important that the PC LAN backup industry drive toward the point of file-level interchange.”