Increased Mac adoption in the enterprise has challenged IT departments to solve the incompatibility issues in Windows-based environments. Acronis recently released ExtremeZ-IP 9.0, the latest version of its software to solve those problems and provide users with a seamless experience.
Here, Brian Ulmer, product management director at Acronis, explains the challenges that ExtremeZ-IP solves and shares the new features for enhanced content indexing and search that are now available:
What major problems does ExtremeZ-IP solve for enterprise IT users?
Brian Ulmer: Differences between the Mac and Windows operating systems can make the integration between Macs and Windows a significant challenge. This is an acute problem today because of the growing number of Mac users who access a primarily Windows-based enterprise. Mac file compatibility and integrity can be compromised because of incompatibilities between Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, which are largely a result of the differences in the file sharing protocols they are designed to use. File sharing in Windows is conducted using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which lacks many of the capabilities included in the Mac’s Apple Filing Protocol (AFP). ExtremeZ-IP provides AFP file access to Mac users who need to connect to their company’s Windows file servers and to a variety of network attached storage (NAS) devices.
How do these access issues affect the business’ end users?
Mac users often encounter data integrity issues or become dissatisfied with system performance. They naturally turn to the help desk, which has seen a significant increase in inbound calls from Mac users who simply need a way to reliably share data with Windows-based systems. The problems range from file permissions issues to randomly corrupted files and even files that have disappeared from network shares after being saved. These issues often stem from the many versions of SMB server and client software across multiple generations of Windows and Macs, as well as NAS devices. Even with Apple’s latest SMB2 protocol, ExtremeZ-IP provides significant enhancements to a Mac user experience when connecting to NAS storage, especially for search, file integrity and ACL issues.
The AFP protocol, on the other hand, is maintained by Apple alone. ExtremeZ-IP is engineered for compatibility with all versions of Mac OS from version OS 9 to the latest OS X release.
What other benefits does ExtremeZ-IP bring?
In addition to fixing file sharing issues, ExtremeZ-IP adds support for several Mac OS technologies that improve productivity and alleviate IT overhead. ExtremeZ-IP runs on the Windows servers a company already has in place and can be deployed with no client-side software required. Innovative features, such as support for Network Spotlight full-content search, allow users to quickly locate the files they are looking for. These searches can take several minutes using an SMB connection or longer if users are dealing with hundreds of thousands of files. With ExtremeZ-IP, the search results appear within seconds.
How does ExtremeZ-IP 9.0 expand on this search feature?
ExtremeZ-IP has an existing feature that allows IT to give access to file shares that reside on a non-Windows NAS, or even other Windows servers or DFS shares. We call this “Network Reshare.” IT can take this feature and set up one Windows server that provides AFP access to a wide array of storage.
ExtremeZ-IP 9.0 also introduces the new Acronis Content Indexing feature. This is a new search indexing engine that is capable of indexing files and folders by name or content, regardless of where they are located. Using this new search indexing option, Mac users can now take advantage of nearly instantaneous Network Spotlight search — even when accessing enterprise NAS, such as NetApp or EMC Isilon storage.
What other features does ExtremeZ-IP 9.0 offer?
In addition to Network Spotlight search, ExtremeZ-IP includes a number items that bring Mac feature support to Windows networks, or vice versa. Features include:
- Full Active Directory integration
- Distributed File System (DFS) support
- Shadow Volume Copy support
- Optional Filename Policy restrictions
- Proper handling of expanded Mac file name characters and length
- Network-based Time Machine backup
- Mac print queues
- Bonjour & Dashboard widget resource discovery
More details about ExtremeZ-IP are available on the Acronis web site.