Wednesday, December 29, 2010

File System Access Services and Technologies

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides administrators with many different options to present file data to end users. These, of course, include the traditional file sharing methods, but also include presenting file data using web services. By default, Windows Server 2008 R2 systems running the File Services role support Windows 2000 clients and later. To support legacy Windows clients, UNIX clients, or legacy Apple Mac clients might require additional services and security modifications to the data. Several of the options available for presenting file data to end users are included in the proceeding sections.

Windows Folder Sharing
This is the traditional and most commonly used method to access server data using the server message block (SMB) protocol over TCP/IP. Windows systems, many UNIX systems, and current Apple Mac systems can access Microsoft servers using this protocol. The path to access the data uses the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path of \\server\sharename.

Distributed File System (DFS) Namespaces and Replication
This method utilizes Windows folder sharing under a unified namespace. The main difference between standard Windows Server folder sharing and DFS shares is that the actual server name is masked by a unified name, commonly the Active Directory domain name, but in some cases, a single server name and share can be used to access data stored on several servers. Also with DFS, the underlying data can be replicated or synchronized between servers. One limitation of DFS is that the client accessing the DFS namespace must be a DFS-aware client so it can utilize the benefits of DFS and, in some cases, just locate and access the data.

WWW Directory Publishing
Using this method, administrators can make folders and files available through a web browser for read and/or write operations. This can be a useful tool to make files available to remote users with only Internet access. Some common types of files typically published in websites can include employee handbooks, time sheets, vacation requests, company quarterly reports, and newsletters. Additionally, file publishing through the web can be performed using Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. Microsoft Exchange 2007 and 2010 also enable administrators to provide access to designated file shares through the Outlook Web Access interface.

File Transfer Protocol Service
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service is one of the oldest services available to transfer files between systems. FTP is still commonly used to make large files available and to present remote users and customers alike with a simple way to send data to the organization. FTP is very efficient, and that is why it still has a place in today’s computer and network infrastructure. Standard FTP, however, is not secure by default and should only be used with secure and monitored connections. FTP is compatible with most web browsers, making it very easy to include and utilize links to FTP data within websites to improve file transfer performance. Some common types of files typically made available using FTP sites include company virtual private network (VPN) clients, software packages, product manuals, and to present a repository for customers and vendors to transfer reports, large databases, and other types of data.

Secure File Transfer Protocol (FTPS)
As security becomes more and more of an expectation rather than a necessity for a simple service, Microsoft supports Secure File Transfer Protocol, or Secure FTP, for data transfer services. Using an encryption algorithm for data security and integrity purposes, FTPS provides a method to upload and download data with a significantly more secure FTPS than was typically done in the past using unsecured FTP.

Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)
Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) can be used to present files in document libraries, but the data is stored in Microsoft SQL databases and not in the file system. Because WSS stores file data in SQL databases, separate backups are required and the data stored in WSS is not directly accessible in the file system, except in the form of web links. WSS does have some benefits to managing file data, including document management features such as version history, check-in and checkout functionality, and the ability to notify users or groups when a document has been added, updated, or removed from a WSS document library.

Services for NFS
“Services for NFS” is a suite of services that provides the ability for Windows administrators to simplify the integration of Windows systems into legacy UNIX networks. In previous versions of Windows, Services for NFS or Services for UNIX (SFU) included User Name Mapping services, gateway for NFS, client for NFS, and server for PCNFS (IBM’s implementation of NFS). With Windows Server 2008 R2, the only components included are the client and server for NFS. Mapping UNIX users to Active Directory users is now available as a feature of the Identity Management for UNIX role services, which are part of the Active Directory Domain Services role. Services for NFS allows UNIX systems running the NFS protocol to access data stored on Windows Server 2008 R2 systems. Client for NFS allows the Windows system to access data stored on UNIX systems running the NFS protocol.

Services for Mac
This service was removed in Windows Server 2008 as current Apple Mac devices can connect to Microsoft servers by default using the SMB protocol. To support legacy Apple Mac clients, Windows administrators would need to deploy Windows Server 2003 systems with file and/or print services for Mac installed or provide alternate ways for Mac users to access data, such as FTP or web access.

Source of Information : Sams - Windows Server 2008 R2 Unleashed