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Managing Linux servers in a Windows world

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As Linux servers continue to pervade data centers at increasing rates, one of the biggest challenges to strike IT managers is getting those servers to work well with their existing Windows systems.

As a result, technologies like Samba have made a market out of getting the two operating systems to play nice. However, Samba can be a bit complex for the everyday administrator, so companies like Centeris Corp., a Bellevue, Wash.-based startup, have spring up with products to minimize the confusion. Centeris and others produce software tools specifically designed to make interoperability as painless as possible.

Recently, Centeris CEO Barry Crist sat down with to talk about why the landscape for cross-platform server management is improving with the integration of Windows and Linux servers and how virtualization is already emerging as the next big technology in the space. What's the landscape looking like today for cross-platform management?

Barry Crist: Since about two years ago the landscape has changed. Windows is still dominant, with Exchange and Active Directory. Those technologies are really unchallenged. But what has changed is Linux is now very mainstream in the SMB market, and that was not the case two years ago. We have seen it come in at the networking edge, on the firewall, maybe with something like an Asterisk phone system. But then you have seen it start to expand -- and a lot of times, that has been done absent from corporate directive. It may have entered via a very specific application, like a Linux content management system in support of a Windows system.

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