Accessing DFS files using ExtremeZ-IP Network Reshare

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  • Product:
    ExtremeZ-IP
  • Revised:
    6/19/2012
  • Reviewed:
    6/6/2012

Introduction

Prior to the release of version 8.0, ExtremeZ-IP supported Mac AFP access to Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) file shares in several ways. Traditional ExtremeZ-IP DFS support requires one or more DFS namespaces to be added to the DFS tab in the ExtremeZ-IP Administrator’s Settings window. Then, Mac clients must be set up with one of the following options:

  • - The “Zidget” Dashboard widget – Used to browse DFS namespaces and mount specific resources within them.
  • - The ExtremeZ-IP “DFS Client” application – Used to allow mounting of DFS volumes in the Finder and browsing of the related DFS namespace, similar to the experience Windows presents to users.
  • - Manual modification of the Mac’s “auto_master” file – Provides the same experience as the DFS Client option, but requires editing a standard Mac config file rather than installing client software.

All of these options require client side software or changes on each Mac that requires access to DFS.

ExtremeZ-IP 8.0’s Network Reshare feature introduces an additional option for providing Macs with access to DFS resources. Network Reshare allows ExtremeZ-IP AFP file volumes to give access to folders located on other servers and NAS devices on your network. Macintosh clients continue to connect to ExtremeZ-IP using the standard AFP file sharing protocol, while ExtremeZ-IP utilizes the SMB/CIFS file sharing protocol to access files that are requested by Mac users from remote servers and NAS systems. By doing so, Mac users retain all the benefits of AFP file sharing while gaining access to resources that have traditionally only been available through SMB/Windows file sharing.

DFS shares can be configured as ExtremeZ-IP Network Reshare volumes. DFS target resolution simply occurs in the SMB reshare communication layer and Macs are able to seamlessly browse and access the reshared DFS resources presented in a standard AFP volume. No Mac client-side software or changes are required. Macs simply connect to ExtremeZ-IP AFP Network Reshare volumes in the Finder and can immediately browse the DFS namespace.

For more details on Network Reshare, see our Configuring Network Reshare support in ExtremeZ-IP knowledge base article.

Limitations

ExtremeZ-IP Server acts as DFS client
When hosting a Network Reshare DFS volume, the ExtremeZ-IP Windows server makes requests for resources located in DFS namespaces on behalf of the the Mac client. From the perspective of DFS, the Windows server itself is the client, not the actual Mac user making the request. For this reason, all DFS target selection and site costing will be negotiated for the Windows server, rather than the Mac client.

All Network Reshare communication is routed through the ExtremeZ-IP Windows server
Network Reshare routes all communication between your Mac clients and your DFS namespaces through the Windows server where ExtremeZ-IP is installed. This requires an extra network hop compared to the Mac client accessing DFS targets directly. For the best possible performance, it is recommended that ExtremeZ-IP is installed on a server with the fastest available NICs, and ideally this server has one or more NICs dedicated to communicating with the servers, NAS, or DFS namespaces being reshared.

ExtremeZ-IP Network Reshare feature and Network Reshare DFS volume configuration

For full details on configuring your ExtremeZ-IP server for Network Reshare and instructions on setting up a Network Reshare DFS volume, please see our Configuring Network Reshare support in ExtremeZ-IP knowledge base article.

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