Samba vs. NetAppliance

Benn, Paul paul.benn at
Wed Jun 23 01:54:47 GMT 1999


I just wanted to comment on some of this (hopefully without starting a religious

> Pro-Samba Argument:
> 	PDC capability

Yup, the "experimental" PDC capability is pretty cool. Since NetApp filers are
"file service appliances" this might be better considered an advantage over an
NT server or Advanced Server for UNIX.

> 	Much better control over who accesses what filesystems.

Sorry if I seem ignorant of a particular Samba or UNIX functionality but I'm not
sure what you mean here. It might be argued that the reverse is true since
NetApp natively supports both UNIX style file permissions and NTFS style
permissions (ACLs). Based on my limited experience, the new ACL functionality
introduced with Samba 2.0.4 (which BTW I think is a very nifty addition)is
merely a way for an NT savvy admin to manipulate the underlying UNIX file
permissions via Windows Explorer. Oh and don't forget that DOS attributes, such
as the "archive bit," are mapped to the UNIX "x" bits which may present problems
in multiprotocol environments. Here's a quote from John D. Blair's book "Samba
Integrating UNIX and Windows" copyright 1998, page 239: "The unusual changes in
execute permissions may disrupt use of files from UNIX users.

> 	Access to source code.

Can't argue with that.

> 	A great mailing list to support you with very good response time

There's also a NetApp filer mailing list (which we _don't_ host but our
engineers _do_ participate in) with good response time. Just send an email to
majordomo at with (no quotes) "subscribe toasters" in the body of the

> 	Tons of documentations

Yes, there are a few books out there and decent on-line documentation. NetApp
also provides decent on-line documentation in addition to the manuals.
Additionally, we have quite a number of white papers posted at:  Perhaps you were unaware of it but there's
also an online knowledge base at

> 	The ability to set up as many or as few Samba servers as you want/need
> 	for the same price

This is true if you don't factor in hardware costs.

> 	Thousands of people using/testing/beating on/improving the software

NetApp also has many thousands of people using/testing/beating on filers (the
next web site you hit may have a filer back ending it). It is true, though, that
the number of our engineers "improving" the software is considerably lower than
the number of people contributing to the Samba code. Wouldn't the "improving"
point be the same thing as "Access to source code" above (essentially ye olde
"open source vs. closed source" argument)?

> 	A much better price then NetApp

Isn't this the same point you make above?
> Pro-NetApp Argument:
> 	A corporate-backed piece of software

...and hardware with native NTFS/UNIX file permissions, a really cool snapshot
feature (which saved many users from ruin when the worm virus hit), RAID
protection built into file system, on-line volume expansion (with a single
command and no down time), quotas, a warranty and telephone support.

> 	An expensive price tag on a per-server basis

Samba is indeed free but what happens when you factor in the cost an
enterprise-class UNIX server?

> 	Quite slow tech support response time

Perhaps when compared to the
always-someone-reading-it-around-the-world-at-any-given-time Samba digest. But
then again, you seem not to be counting the "toasters" mailing list which can
provide equally fast response times. You only have to wait on your internet
connection and query speed when using the NetApp knowledge base. I know things
are changing but who are you going to _call_ when you have a Samba issue and you
don't own an SGI box (and even then how long will the response times be)? I've
never been on the customer side of NetApp but I have been in IT organizations of
large companies so I know what it can be like trying to get support. Even the
best company in the world (who ever it may be) will have customers that are
dissatisfied with the support. To my knowledge, our support isn't as notoriously
slow as you seem to imply. What about our Auto Support feature? Customers
frequently receive new hard drives in the mail before they even know that is has
gone bad.

> 	Someone for management to blame/sue when it doesn't work as well.

> I love NetApps.  I have 3 of them.  I won't buy the CIFS license because:
> 	1. To expensive

Sure the CIFS license is more expensive than $FREE but we feel that NetApp
offers a better CIFS implementation as well as better Windows/UNIX integration.
I don't want to go any further off topic than I already have so if anyone wants
to take a look at a good white paper on the subject, check out:

> 	2. Not enough flexibility

A filer is a file service appliance that is designed to do one thing extremely
well, serve files. It's not a general purpose server, designed to do a decent
job at many things. Within the scope of being a file service appliance, filers
are indeed very flexible.

> 	3. No PDC support

I'm just as excited as everyone else is about the PDC support but the limited
(no trust relationships, no BDC, etc.) implementation isn't officially supported
(yet) either.

> 	4. Tech support isn't that great with NFS, why would CIFS support be 
> 	   any better?

Not everyone shares the same opinion. I'm sorry if you've had a bad experience
and would be more than happy to take this up with you off-line and see that you
get a resolution to your problem.

Best regards,

Paul Benn
Network Appliance
paul at

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