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Likewise Agreement Means Active Directory Integration In Future vSphere Versions

A recent announcement from Likewise Software hints that future versions of VMware vSphere may make it easier for companies to manage ESX hosts using Active Directory (AD) credentials. vCenter, which runs on a Windows Server operating system, is commonly added to an AD domain already, but special configurations are necessary to authenticate ESX host access with domain credentials today. Here’s a clip from the announcement:

“The integration will enable VMware vSphere users to manage privileged user access with Microsoft Active Directory, providing large enterprises with a scalable means to improve authentication and access control in virtualized environments to help meet IT security audit requirements. Likewise is a member of the VMware Technology Alliance Partner (TAP) program.”

I recently ran across this announcement via virtualization.info’s article VMware to embed Likewise authentication in next vSphere, but originally read about it in the vreference.com post ESX 4.1 to include likewise AD authentication?

Likewise Open is an “open source application that joins Linux, Unix, and Mac machines to Microsoft Active Directory and securely authenticates users with their domain credentials.” The Open edition is free to download and use. Likewise also offers

an Enterprise version with premium features such as group policy management, auditing and compliance, directory migration, and a Operations Dashboard. Several other Enterprise features make administrators able to manage Active Directory users and computers from Unix, Linux, or Apple systems.

I also noticed on the Likewise Features page that the company advertises it’s services as “pre-bundled with various industry-leading server virtualization solution offerings from Citrix and VMware…”

My Thoughts

Outside of the added administrative convenience, it’s an interesting partnership. Will VMware and Likewise develop a stand alone directory services offering for the cloud? This could mean VMware now has the Email, file sharing, and directory services pieces all accounted for for a self sustaining virtual business infrastructure. Likewise also already provides a CIFS services product for sharing files too.

Likewise already allows Active Directory management via a GUI from non windows systems. Surely new versions of vCenter and the vSphere client will contain new tabs for this future configuration.

The Likewise announcement seems to be another of the various clues starting to surface about the next version of VMware vSphere.

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