Samba 4 will hurt and help Microsoft's business

Samba 4 will hurt and help Microsoft's business

Summary: The release of Samba 4 will no doubt cut into Windows server business somewhat, but its interoperability capabilities will ease administrative and vendor support costs and preserve Windows servers and clients in the long run as open source transforms enterprise computing


The availability of Samba 4 will do Microsoft's server business some harm but will do  more good for Windows over the long run. 

It will also give enterprises the go ahead to deploy both Windows servers and clients as the momentun shifts to Linux.

As some point out, its much anticipated interoperability capabilities will curtail Microsoft's enterprise server lock-in. But it also helps Microsoft stay alive in the long run. 

First, it will ease administrators' burdens in supporting mixed Windows-Linux environments and reduce Microsoft's (and Red Hat's) support costs in doing so -- provided Samba is implemented correctly and there are no major showstoppers in the code.

It will also give enterprises the go ahead to deploy both Windows servers and clients as the momentun shifts to Linux, as mixed environments expand, and that becomes far more important to Microsoft as open source commandeers the transformation in enterprise computing over the next decade.

It was disappointing to see that version 4 implements SMB 2.1 file serving protocol and only an initial implementation of SMB3. The Samba team claims it will be in an upcoming release but given the long wait for version 4 it's surprising and concerning. This is a better development for Microsoft than Linux. 

See also: Samba 4 released, brings Free alternative to Active Directory

"The Samba 4.0 file server contains an initial implementation of SMB3, which will be further developed in later Samba 4 releases into a fully-featured SMB3 clustered file server implementation," the Samba team wrote. "Future developments of our SMB3 server and client suite, in combination with our expanding number of SMB3 tests, will keep driving the performance improvements and improved compatibility with Microsoft Windows that Samba users have come to expect from our software."

Windows server with AD has been around since 2000 and the installed base is massive. While Samba will help enterprises deploy Linux as well, there's no way Linux will immediately displace Windows out of the gate given the massive installed base and investments in the Active Directory infrastructure. 

The availability of Samba 4 is a direct offsrping of Microsoft's antitrust settlement, which required the company to disclose specific protocols that the Samba team used. 

But Microsoft went far beyond just releasing the protocols and has been helping the Samba team throughout the process -- though slow and laborious as it was. 

Microsoft even offered up a few words of compliment to the Samba team with the release of version 4 this week. That doesn't suggest to me that Samba is going to put Microsoft out of business any time soon. 

"Active Directory is a mainstay of enterprise IT environments, and Microsoft is committed to support for interoperability across platforms," said Thomas Pfenning, director of development, Windows Server. "We are pleased that the documentation and interoperability labs that Microsoft has provided have been key in the development of the Samba 4.0 Active Directory functionality."


Topics: Open Source, Linux, Windows Server

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  • I don't know if you're right

    It seems unlikely that MS thinks so, or it would be actively assisting the Samba developers in fully implementing SMB3.
    John L. Ries
  • I doubt that it will do much harm to their server business

    Windows server is far more then a set of AD protocols
    William Farrel
    • Windows server is far more then a set of AD protocols

      Antiviruses and viruses... simply priceless!
      • Wow. you really want to talk Linux or OS X?

        you'd get your floor wiped with your butt, but heck it's your floor, why should we care.
        William Farrel
        • Willy

          Your comment is childish.

          Do explain, “Windows server is far more then a set of AD protocols”
    • Tides Changing

      Hello All,

      Although Samba 4's development did seem to take forever, a few things are extremely pertinent in this development. I worked on Windows 2000 at Microsoft and helped AD 0.x become the monster that it is today. When I first started the tide was still moving toward Microsoft. In fact, Windows was the "poor man's server." It was available to nearly anyone, less than $1000, and could run on nearly anything; especially when compared to Unix and Sun, IBM, etc. Fast forward almost twenty years and this product, Linux if you will, is now ready for prime time or darn close. I was one of the first trainers certified on Windows 2000 and the first Windows 2000 MCSE's in the world, after NT4 mind you. What am I running in my DC, not as my DC, but IN MY DC? Linux. This year I began the conversion to all Linux in my datacenter.

      Why I mention all of this anecdotal evidence it to build a story for you...

      In the before time when land was plentiful and the crystal was one, I had a Tandy color computer and TRS 80 which lead to an Apple IIe and Mac 128K. After ten years banging around on that thing I heard of this new Windows System from Microsoft who made a Word Processor other than Word Perfect or spreadsheet software, Lotus 1,2,3. Thus began my transition to Microsoft Enterprise Administrator. I lived, breathed, dreamed, implemented and integrated Microsoft and made a crap ton of money pulling out NetWare 2x-4x. Nevermind that the only thing that worked in NT4 was GSNW and CSNW! This lasted for over ten years till my mom bought me an iPhone. One year into that I bought an Apple Macbook Pro to do App Development and two years later I am Apple Certified, and have made my business both an Apple and Microsoft Partner. Using UNIX full time and Seeing Ubuntu's snazzy flavors has pushed me into full LINUX. The tide is turning. And what really pushed it? MICROSOFT!

      Their F*****G software is so F*****G hard to install now that it is just like the reason I left Linux. There are so many incompatibility and supporting libraries that it is just nuts. Furthermore, Redmond, where I also used to work has no Billg to make people agree. Hence, unlike the egalitarian culture which dominates Linux development, Microsoft is run by a bunch of political hacks. When I last did a stint at RedWest in 2004 it was ridiculous. The email wars, MBA presentations, you name it. It is just like what has happened to America as a whole: The Elite Strongmen use the system to keep younger upstarts from arising; like all empires it begins to collapse of its own mass internally. Like the ratio of volume to surface area in biology and calculus it is too big and bloated to maintain itself. All of its resources go to respirating and metabolizing!

      Enter Linux.

      Linux Zorin and Pear are as pretty and easy as Mac, as functional as Microsoft, and as secure and customizable as Linux. Since all enterprise installs are a pain in the ass, why go with Windows 2012 which is so massive and licensing so gnarly that I stick with Linux. Do not get me wrong, I have Windows Server 2008x86 DCs, 2008R2x64, and a couple of OSX Server 10.6-7's around, but Linux trumps them all for ease of install customization and building. Not to mention licensing!!!Maybe I am just a geek, but it was not always thus. I promise you, the world is coming our direction-get ready.

      My final summary comment is this:

      In the beginning everything was proprietary. IBM, etc.
      Next came the upstart, Apple.
      Then, the equalizer, MSFT.
      Finally the great equalizers: Linux and WWW

      Once Bill got a desktop running Microsoft in every home so-to-speak, Apple returned with pretty, and Android JVM (Kinda Linux) to truly equalize with LINUX. The crystal is being reunited under the flag of interoperability. NO ONE WILL PAY THREE LICENSES FOR EACH WINDOWS DESKTOP! (VDI, HW, CAL). Or for Citrix monster. It is going to be SPICE, KVM/QEMU and Linux. Start to think about how you are going to do INTEROPERABILITY.

      My two hundred cents.
      Virtual Nexus
  • Momentum to Linux? Uh?

    Paula, I doubt the momentum is going to Linux to be honest... The last numbers of the server market show that the majortiy of servers are bought for Windows and for the so-called "general purpose" server OS it's even more than 75% (many servers are using Linux/UNIX for specific purposes, for example for VMWare hosts). Ok, that's the past and the now. What about the future?
    Yes, Linux got great reviews for virtualization, cloud and big data. But Windows Server 2012 is able to bash VMWare with Hyper-V and Azure got very, very great reviews lately (which is not really a surprise, but it seems some journalists were not aware of its power during preview stages). I just want to say WS12, Hyper-V/private cloud and Azure are getting the momentum lately. And those are the market pieces where Windows wasn't that strong, so an even greater market share for Windows Serevr can be expected. So I guess the momentum is not going to Linux. I don't know why you are thinking this. Or are you thinking the same way as your friend SJVN? That guy hated MS before MS even started to exist.
    Padre Pedro
    • Where do you get your data from?

      Last quarter Windows server sales shrank 1%, Linux grew I think 6.6%. And of course nobody tracks Linux servers that are custom (in house) installs.
      So unless you have some compelling data source you did not share with us, what you are saying is nonsense.
      • Oh I like those flags

        Put by people who have no arguments and nothing to say.
        • They have their uses

          Mostly for dealing with trolls, spammers, and those who think themselves obligated to insult or abuse others.
          John L. Ries
      • One could ask you the same question.

        "Where do you get your data from?"

        As the following doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in your numbers:

        "Linux grew I think 6.6%."

        The two words that give me pause are "I think".
        • That implies that I am not certain

          if it is 6.2 or 6.8 or 6.6.... Get it? Turns out I am right on spot:

          Apologies accepted.
          • Try 2.1%

            "Linux servers now represent 21.5% of all server revenue, up 2.1 points when compared with the third quarter of 2011."

            Then there's this little tidbit from your link:

            "This is the second time in the past three quarters that Windows has been responsible for driving more than half of all server spending worldwide."

            As for an apology who do you feel should apologize to you?
          • still not there

            This data only includes servers sold with Linux, or Windows. Licenses, remember?

            Thing is, you can buy an barebones server and run any OS on it, most likely Open Source UNIX (which includes Linux, BSD, Solaris derivatives). If you do so, and run Windows, that will be counted in the "licenses" but if you run UNIX, it won't.

            An interesting breakdown would be the number of servers that were purchased together with a Windows Server license vs the number of servers purchased without it.
          • You questioned my data; I gave it to you so

            I gracefully accept you apologies.
            Of course you did not post the 6.6% number which is the revenue increase. 2.1% is the increase of the marketshare:
            "... as hardware revenue increased 6.6% year over year to $2.6 billion in 3Q12"
            So again: I am kind enough and accept you apology.
          • And your information turned out to be wrong.

            As for the 6.6% revenue increase the original post, which is where I questioned your numbers, revered to SERVER sales, not revenue increases.

            Regardless I wasn't questioning your numbers. Merely pointing out that you did exactly what you accused Padre Pedro of: Providing numbers without supporting reference. Furthermore I went on to say a reference from you was even more warranted because you were unsure of your numbers.

            No apology from me warranted.
          • ??????

            Revenue and sales in this case are the same. Or you are trying to tell me the 2.1% marketshare increase is closer to the "revenue" you look to define?
            God, you are hopeless. BB, have better things to do than argue with 10year old.
          • Of course Windows drives server spending

            Windows dekstops and servers have always used more resources than the Unix/Linux alternatives. So that is why you'd need more servers.
          • Yes, we know Windows is often a lot more expensive

            ... while Linux is often actually free (that's as in beer ;), y' know).

            [ rant ] Unfortunately, Microsoft's has been rather more innovative in extracting ever greater fees for much the same old thing, rather than in innovating better product for the same price. [ /rant ]

            Red Hat execs pointed out (back when when they were approaching the $1 Billion threshold) that for Red Hat to make a billion dollars in Linux revenue, they displace five billion in "other OS" revenue (and it stopped being just or mainly UNIX* revenue quite a while ago)

            So if Linux is getting 20+ % (of the actual server cash spending), and Windows is only getting 50% (of the actual server cash spending), then Microsoft is facing a very... interesting... future.
      • kirovs@, the only way those numbers would work out true

        is if you did all your calculations on an abacus.

        That's my guess where you got your "numbers" from.
        William Farrel