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A Look At Vintela Group Policy

To say that Vintela takes a unique approach to user authentication, user and system management, and single sign-on is something of an understatement. The company crosses Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) with popular versions of Unix and Linux in an unholy marriage that yields some exciting capabilities. Vintela Group Policy (VGP), as it's called, brings Microsoft's native group policy framework to Unix, Linux, Java, and the Mac.

My reaction-and it's a common one, as I was told by Vintela's president, David Wilson-was that no Unix system administrator worth his salary would welcome a Microsoft-based user management solution. However, Wilson made a strong case for Vintela's approach. Vintela has produced a set of user authentication agents that reside on servers and workstations running Unix or Linux for systems management. It has also produced user management extensions that allow Active Directory to be used as an authentication and authorization system for non-Windows systems.

According to Wilson, Vintela is wickedly fanatical about standards. The company wrote and published the OpenWBEM standard for systems management and then applied it across the variants of Unix, Java, and the Mac. However, the company decided to embrace Microsoft in a big way when it chose to adopt SMS as both its user and system management console. Vintela embarked on a joint development effort with Microsoft to integrate OpenWBEM with SMS.

By adopting SMS, Vintela gives enterprise customers a rich management system and the ability to homogeneously administer user authentication and access rights across the spectrum of commonly deployed OSs. Since Active Directory is based on Kerberos and implements LDAP, extending it to Unix might not be quite as unholy as it first appears.

While Vintela demonstrated the ability to manage Unix systems from SMS through its Vintela Management Extensions (VMX) product in November of last year, that capability was limited to user management. VGP brings more of Active Directory and SMS' capabilities to Vintela's other supported platforms. Vintela benefits from Active Directory's scalability and reliability and brings unique management capabilities to the Unix and Linux environments. For enterprise customers looking for a unified system and user management system that works across Microsoft, Unix, Linux, Java, and the Mac, Vintela's solutions are worth a look.

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