Tom Kemp's Centrify Blog

Centrify Suite and Centrify Express Shine in Recent Competitive Product Reviews

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recently some press and bloggers have been reviewing both the Centrify Suite (our five products that form a comprehensive suite of security and auditing solutions for cross-platform environments, all built on a single architecture that leverages Active Directory) and Centrify Express (our recently released free solution for Active Directory authentication as well as our deployment tool and Centrify-enabled open source solutions). In these reviews our products have shined and have taken top honors when compared to other solutions on the market. In this blog post let me run through the recent reviews and point to some of the key things these reviews found.

First up is SC Magazine that reviewed the Centrify Suite. We were pleased to see that the Centrify Suite got 5 out of 5 stars, and no items in the "Against" category. The review notes:

The Centrify Suite allows administrators to control users' access to Linux and UNIX machines using their already existing Active Directory accounts. This product features the ability to place granular access controls on those users, such as what systems they can access and when they can access them, as well as what commands they can run. … This product not only allows administrators to streamline accounts, but also to be certain that users do not get more permissions and rights than they need. … We found all documentation to be easy to follow with many step-by-step instructions and screen shots."

The review concluded: "Good marriage of *nix and Active Directory. … We find this product to be a good value for the money." I say Cool!

Next up is a review of Centrify Express from a blogger whose blog is entitled "Showing My Geek." I had personally never heard of this blogger before, but it was great to see this person dive into our free offering and here are some of his comments:

"One of my favorite features other than the single login, is that you can authenticate Active Directory users accessing Samba shares at add an easier way to add users, keep track of who has access. … The Centrify Express is free and accomplishes exactly what I was looking for. If you want to integrate Active Directory authentication into you Linux, Unix, or Mac machines check out Centrify Express it may be just what you are looking for."

No negative comments were to be had. A commenter to this blog post (apparently from another vendor) did incorrectly comment that Centrify Express requires usage of our Centrify-enabled OpenSSH to run (we provide this as an optional convenience and one can elect not to install it, and also note that DirectControl works fine with "stock" SSHs as well as patches to the OS). Also, regarding UNIX support for Express — stay tuned and look for some additional platforms to be available with Express in the next few days

Another blog, an Ubuntu focused one called workwithu.com, recently did a comparative review of Centrify Express and another free AD integration solution, and Centrify Express was preferred in more of the categories than the other freebie that was reviewed. Here is a quick and dirty scorecard of the review based on the category, preferred solution that the reviewer calls out (with "—" being a draw or no clearly preferred solution), and highlighted comments.

Category Preferred Solution Reviewer Comments
Installation Reviewer feels both products are "pretty straightforward" installation-wise
Joining a Domain Centrify "Centrify has the advantage of offering the option to join at install time …"
Out-of-the-box configuration Centrify Other solution "is more complicated" and not "out-of-the-box" … prefers Centrify's approach of "having all home folders in the same place"
Customization Centrify "adheres much more closely to a traditional UNIX approach"
Licensing Reviewer does not have strong opinion
Restricting Logins Centrify Centrify's approach "is a bit better … because it allows access to be granted not only at the group level but also on a per-user basis"
Upgrade Path / Conclusions Centrify "Centrify, with its broader suite of products, offers a bit more flexibility when it comes to upgrading"

So for those keeping score at home, Centrify was ahead in 4 of the categories, did not lose in any category, and drew even in 3 categories. i.e. Centrify Express went 4-0-3 while the other solution went 0-4-3.

Interestingly enough, Centrify Express came up well ahead in this particular review even though only 1/3rd the Express solution was reviewed. The reviewer only reviewed the DirectControl Express component, and did not review the other 2/3rds of Centrify Express — DirectManage Express and our Centrify-enabled open source solutions. The reviewer after the fact realized this, and noted in a comment: "good point about DirectManage Express. I was actually planning to write that up separately (although in retrospect it is definitely worth mentioning as a feature unique to Centrify, so thanks for bringing it up here)—stay tuned." Again, so even though only 1/3rd of our free offering was reviewed, we still come up on top!

Another blogger, David Burke, reviewed Centrify Express in his blog Technology Against You. He compared Centrify to another free solution and said this:

Ubuntu 10.04 Server: Centrify worked very well for this. [other product] has many bugs that annoy me in Ubuntu so that's what really motivated me to try something new. I ran into a little trouble installing it, but after running apt-get -f install it worked fine. [other product] in Ubuntu has a default domain bug and it also doesn't seem to like installing on my Proxmox template for some reason."

David did note a few cons to Centrify Express that based on subsequent conversations with him were found out to be not "cons" / addressed:

  • Centrify Express is in the Ubuntu repository: see this post for details
  • Centrify Express provides a bunch of documentation: see "Express Documentation" on the community page
  • His issue around Samba and entering password twice was resolved in our community: see this post for details

Taking these into account, I believe Centrify Express becomes an even more acceptable solution for David and other Ubuntu users

[Updated 9/28/2010: David wrote an updated blog post where he details how and why he made the switch to Centrify. David says this "I've decided to ditch [open source product] in favor of Centrify Express. Centrify is not open source, but it seems less buggy and easier to install. It also seems to connect to AD as least a little bit faster." David's experience is echoed by another blogger who noted: "[open source product] is broken. There's a bug on it, but nobody seems to be interested in fixing it" — that blogger is now checking out Centrify Express per his comments.]

Finally, an expert in *nix and Windows interoperability (Rodney Ruddick of Interop Systems, the guys behind the SUA Community) took an incredibly deep look at the free AD integration solutions out there and concluded this:

"Centrify Express shows a marked difference in several areas that result in it pulling significantly ahead in the race because [another product] lacks these additional features: Samba integration, more login styles, pre-install verification, extended management, centralized installation for multiple platforms, secure OS integration and more Kerberos enabled tools."

"After exhaustive testing, and reviewing the results with the free products this makes the Executive Decision very clear: the freely available Centrify Express has more of the features you need with the comforting maturity from its commercial lineage."

Centrify did sponsor this last review, as we were curious going into the launch of Centrify Express how it would stack up compared to other free offerings, but in the end the conclusions drawn in this report parallel what the other independent reviews found: Centrify Express is the best free AD and *nix integration solution out there. And as SC Magazine found, we also deliver the most capability to upgrade to vis a vis other free AD interop solutions.

So if you want, download Express for free today by visiting /express or if you want to check out the full Centrify Suite, request a free trial at http://info.centrify.com/Centrify-Suite-free-evaluation.html.

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