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Windows NT Server Consolidation and Performance Improvements with Solaris PC NetLink 2.0 Software

This article focuses on best practices to help data center managers meet cost reduction goals in supporting multiple users accessing servers through PC clients. New features in Solaris PC NetLink 2.0 software that improve performance and add new options for consolidating Windows NT servers are discussed.
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The trend toward increasing value and reducing cost in the data center is more evident in our current economy. Means of reducing cost include supporting as few servers as possible and switching to technology with a proven high level of availability and increased capacity that requires less system management.

SolarisTM PC NetLink 2.0 software offers many enhancements over previous versions with respect to performance, sizing, and availability. These product improvements allow Solaris PC NetLink software to be adopted as alternatives to Windows NT servers.

This paper focuses on best practices to help data center managers meet cost reduction goals with respect to supporting multiple users accessing servers through PC clients. It also discusses the new features in Solaris PC NetLink 2.0 that improve performance and add new options for consolidating Windows NT servers. Several new configurations will be shown and performance, sizing, and availability implications will be discussed.


SolarisTM PC NetLink software is a Sun Microsystems product that brings the file and print functionality of Windows NT 4.0 domains to Solaris servers. The product originated with Windows NT 4.0 source code, available through a port of ATT's ASU product. Sun engineers have enhanced the product considerably since its initial release in 1999.

PC NetLink software implements many of the services offered by Windows NT 4.0 servers. Among these services are the following:

  • File and print functionality supported through common internet file system (CIFS) SMB protocol

  • Windows NT Primary Domain Controller (PDC), Backup Domain Controller (BDC), or member server capability.

  • Windows Internet Name Service (WINS)

  • Microsoft Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs)

  • Windows NT Directory Services (NTDS)

  • Windows NT Registry

  • Windows NT 4.0 style Event Logging

  • Computer Browser Service support. Solaris PC NetLink can act as the master browser for a subnet.

In addition to these network services, Windows NT 4.0 server system administration tools are provided. Window-based PC tools, such as User Manager for Domains and Server Manager can also be used to manage the Windows NT side of Solaris PC NetLink.

Solaris PC NetLink Versions

Solaris PC NetLink was released in three versions (1.0, 1.1, 1.2) prior to Solaris PC NetLink 2.0. In summary, each release consisted of:

  • Version 1.0 - Initial release of the product.

  • Version 1.1 - Bug Fixes

  • Version 1.2 - Enhanced stability, SunTM Cluster 2.2 support, member server support, support to allow backups to save files with ACLs together through Legato Systems, Inc., concurrent connections increased to 2000, support for Windows 2000 mixed mode support

Solaris PC NetLink 2.0 includes several new features that improve performance, and significantly enhance the cluster support.

These new features include the ability to run up to ten Solaris PC NetLink virtual servers on each Solaris physical host. This change created the following improvements:

  • Better reliability (fewer single points of failure)

  • Easier migration and consolidation from Windows NT to Solaris software

  • Better scalability when consolidating multiple Windows NT servers on a Solaris operating environment server

  • More effective use of equipment when Solaris PC NetLink is used in a high availability (HA) cluster

  • Enhanced monitoring of Solaris PC NetLink virtual servers in an HA cluster

  • Improved ACL database scalability

  • Enhanced password synchronization, enabling a single password change to affect a user's accounts on both the Solaris operating environment and Microsoft Windows NT systems

  • LDAP Directory Synchronization through utilities that transfer user account data between the Microsoft Windows NT SAM and an LDAP directory server

  • Enhanced automounter support

  • Support for domain name service (DNS) in NetBIOS.

  • DOS file attributes can be stored using mechanisms other than UNIXTM group IDs

  • Improved Solaris PC NetLink server manager graphical user interface (GUI)

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