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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Tue, Dec 9, 1997
NT 5.0 Utility Standards
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
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<<< NTools E-NewsFlash >>>[tm] NT 5.0 Utility Standards
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Coming weekend you will get the full NTools E-news again,
but there is something that might get lost in that big
newsletter that is important enough to let you know
separately. InfoWorld has just reviewed Storage Resource
Manager and you simply need to read that review. It is
attached at the bottom of this NewsFlash.

Basically, Microsoft has chosen a few utility standards
for Win NT 5.0. There are three companies that have been
selected to add functionality to 5.0. One is Seagate for
the backup applet and the disaster recovery. The other
is Eastman Software for their Hierarchical Storage Manager,
and third is Highground Systems that is building NT5.0's
Media Services (NTMS).

Why is NTMS needed? To get rid of all those pesky device
drivers. Device Drivers are a pain in the neck for pretty 
much everybody. Hardware manufacturers that come out with 
a new backup device have to beg the backup software companies 
to please write a device driver. Those software companies 
have 5 other guys in the queue and it distracts them to add 
features to their own products. It slows down everybody, 
and _you_ do not get your hands on the latest hot stuff 
apart from having to deal with bugs in device drivers.

Simply put, NTMS is an interface that both the hardware device 
manufacturers AND all the software developers can write to.
This means a unified API so that more than one application
can use any devices like optical backups or storage jukeboxes.
Extremely useful and cost effective.

Highground is now developing NTMS for Microsoft, and is also 
building applications that are NTMS ready. The most important 
of these is Storage Resource Manager (SRM). This is a product
you simply _have_to_have_ when you are serious about NT and 
migration to 5.0. SRM snaps right into the Microsoft Management
Console and is fully 5.0 ready.

Sunbelt provides many smaller "point-solutions" i.e. solutions
that solve a limited but pressing problem (like disk quota 
management). But SRM is more a strategic product, it's an important
piece of your roadmap to Win NT 5.0, and the sooner you begin
implementation, the better it is so you can slowly grow into
the migration instead of having to do it all at once in 70 hour
weeks....

If you have just a little time and simply want to see what SRM
will give you, check out the 5 screenshots we have on our website
and you will see what InfoWorld is talking about:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/srmshots.htm

OK, so here is the review, read it and save it. I think the reviewer
did a great job in getting the important things about SRM highlighted.
BTW, InfoWorld has a great website, at http://www.infoworld.com/
and is one of the magazines I have been reading for 15 years, it
is _very_ warmly recommended, you should get a subscription.


=====================================================================
SUBJECT: STORAGE RESOURCE MANAGER PROVIDES PROACTIVE WEB NETWORK REPORTS
SOURCE: InfoWorld Publishing Company
DATE: December 8, 1997
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Managing distributed disk resources in large or dispersed Windows NT 
environments is a formidable chore and can become even more complicated 
when systems are spread across buildings and time zones. HighGround 
Systems provides a proficient solution with its recently released Web-
based Storage Resource Manager (SRM) 1.0.


SRM is a flexible storage-management system that allows network
administrators to better handle the storage needs of their environments.
Managers can also use SRM to anticipate storage needs and plan future
capacities. SRM estimates the growth of backup times, detects bottlenecks,
determines instances in which disk loads are out of balance, examines disk
space usage, and much more.

Intelligent Web-based design

SRM runs on Windows NT systems in conjunction with Microsoft's Internet
Information Server (IIS), and relies heavily on Microsoft's Active Server
Pages (ASP) technology to get its job done. As you may know, ASP 
technology allows specialized server-side processing to occur on the Web 
server before information is delivered to a Web browser.


SRM is composed of two components: the SRM Server and the SRM Agent. SRM
Agents are loaded on to Windows NT systems that should be monitored. The
SRM Server can be loaded on any Windows NT system running IIS and serves as
the central information-collection hub for the SRM Agents. In turn, the 
SRM Server communicates with the user's Java-enabled Web browser to provide
access to the storage information.


Information-rich interface

SRM sports a well-designed Web interface, with top-level functions in a
pane on the left of the screen and information displays in a pane on the
right.

The multitude of different top-level reports for analysis offered include
breakdowns by domain, computer, partition, disk, and users. In turn, each
top-level category has the same basic subcategories: file size 
distribution, file creation dates, file modification dates, file access 
dates, and vulnerable files.

There are also two reports specific to domains: the largest files and
largest directories reports. All reports can be displayed in text format,
line charts, and pie charts. SRM can also provide graphs that reveal a 
two-week period of storage trends for quick analysis.

Through the myriad reports mentioned, SRM reveals several vital storage
characteristics that help you make decisions. For instance, the rate at
which storage is being consumed helps you discover when you will need
additional storage or when you will need to archive files. Also, file
creation dates reveal how fast new files are being created, which helps
project upcoming disk-usage needs.

Examining file modification and access dates will help you determine 
which files can be archived to cheaper storage systems. Plus the 
vulnerability report reveals which files have their Archive bit set but 
have not been recently backed up.

SRM performs data-collection updates (used to create reports) on a 
defined schedule. The default configuration is set for 2 a.m. every 
night. SRM updates data based on the four top-level categories.

Configuration requirements

Installing SRM is really easy to do -- provided your system has the most
current Service Packs and hot fixes loaded. Because SRM relies entirely on
IIS and Active Server to get its job done, you will need to have Service
Pack 3 loaded correctly and the ASP update to IIS 3.0 loaded as well. SRM
also requires ODBC and Direct Access to Objects installed. However, the 
SRM installation routine does a good job of detecting potential problems 
with your IIS installation, and advises you to update or load certain 
components if they aren't loaded or are incorrectly configured.

I had some trouble getting SRM to run on my systems, but it was not any
fault of HighGround or the SRM product. I discovered that I had an 
outdated version of ODBC loaded and that I also needed to update my ASP
configuration.

Once I straightened out those two problems, I discovered that another
third- party application loaded on my IIS server was interfering with SRM 
- again no fault of the product itself. Once that application was removed,
SRM ran like a champ with no glitches.

Overall, I found that SRM goes a long way toward providing a firm handle
on your enterprise-storage resources -- no matter where they are located --
via a clear Web interface. If disk space is paramount to critical
operations, then I would highly recommend that you consider SRM to help you
gain a clear and meaningful perspective of your resources.

Mark Joseph Edwards is a writer and network engineer/consultant at
Netropolis Technology Group, in Houston. He can be reached at
[email protected] or [email protected]

THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD

Storage Resource Manager 1.0

This Web-based storage-management system efficiently provides centralized
reporting and analysis functionality in a single common interface.

Pros: Web-based; easy installation and configuration; intuitive interface;
speedy operation; enterprise view offers centralized management.

Cons: Storage Resource Manager Server only handles about 30 agents in this
release.

Price: Server component: $3,995; $399 per agent for Windows NT Server; $99
per agent for Windows NT Workstation.

Platform: Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0.

Copyright 1997, InfoWorld


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That's all for this NewsFlash, see you next week! :-)

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman

(email me with feedback: [email protected])