Sunbelt W2Knews Electronic Newsletter
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Sun, Jul 11, 1999
TechEd Europe Special
This issue of W2Knews contains:
1. EUROPE TECH-ED SPECIAL
The latest stuff from TechEd Europe.
2. WIN NT AND WIN CE ADVENTURES
3. HOW TO USE THE MAILING LIST
Instructions on how to subscribe, sign off or
change your address.
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****************WHAT IS NTOOLS E-NEWS?******************************
Sunbelt Windows NTools E-News is the World's first and largest
E-Newsletter designed for NT System Managers that have the job to
get and keep NT up & running in a production environment. Sunbelt
launched this electronic newsletter early 1996. Every two weeks we
keep the Windows NT community informed and aware of new developments
of NT and 3-rd party NT System Management Tools. You get hints and
tips that will enable you to better utilize and understand Windows
NT, now renamed to Windows 2000 (abbreviated to Win2K).
You'll find general Windows NT related and third party news, tech
information, and 3-rd party beta and release information. As a
subscriber to NTools E-News[tm], you will receive instant notifi-
cation of important NT related events and you are also a charter
member of the Sunbelt Field Test Bonus Program. Sunbelt Software is
the first and largest distributor worldwide of Third Party System
Management Tools for Windows NT with 6 subsidiaries in the US and
NTools E-News TechEd Europe Special.
I'm in the airplane back to the States typing this newsletter to
get you all up to date about what happened at TechEd Europe in
Amsterdam. For European standards, this was a pretty big convention.
The whole vast RAI building complex was used and about 6,500 attendees
were there. This is Microsoft's largest European event up to now,
and they had to move out of Nice, France because it was getting too
I asked around and there were a high percentage of Dutch, German and
English people, not as many French. To a certain extent it was a repeat
of the recent TechEd USA in Dallas we were a few weeks ago, but it was
certainly adapted to local needs. Some one hundred speakers gave about
330 commercial and technical sessions during the four days. TechEd is
still an incredible way to learn a lot in a condensed time.
The show was from the 6-th to the 9-th, with the sessions for the IT
operations side and development side mixed over all the days. That
was different in Dallas. There the first two days were operations only,
with three days focused on developers following. No clue why they
did not do that in Europe too. I heard some complaints that sessions
for Active Directory only had a 1000 seats and they had to turn away
something like 500 people that tried to get in.
The Exhibition area was less than one third of the exhibition space that
we had at TechEd Dallas, and there were about half the amount of
companies (+/- 100) exhibiting their products and services. I scanned
the show floor from the viewpoint of what would be interesting for an
NT system / network administrator. Actually, surprisingly little!
(with a few exceptions).
Here are the items I thought were noteworthy:
- WISE solutions recently released the latest version of their
InstallManager which allows you to create and manage installs
(setups/packages) for your end users. It's a relatively simple
'point & click' 6-step setup process. This tool includes a conflict
manager that identifies potential file conflicts before the deployment.
Scripts are easily adaptable. The product was chosen as the Visual
Basic Programmers Journal Readers' Choice. I had a look at it and
liked what I saw. Check it out at http://www.wisesolutions.com or
the Dutch distributor at: http://www.delado.com .
A competing product that was shown was NetInstall. It was touted as
ready for Win2K. That means it makes use of Microsoft's new Windows
Installer Service. This is a set of API's and processes that manage your
installations for Win2K. NetInstall comes from the same people that
create the well known InstallShield software. Check out this tool at:
http://www.installshield.com or UK at http://www.installshield.co.uk
or in Germany at http://www.installshield.de .
The USA developer W Quinn showed the latest version of QuotaAdvisor.
(This is the product that Microsoft Redmond recently chose for a 3-year,
worldwide licensing agreement for MS's own corporate data centers.)
QuotaAdvisor is a second-generation disk quota utility. First generation
tools use the native NT security to lock users out of an object, but
second-generation quota tools use more advanced I/O filter drivers that
can stop users in their tracks from writing files that go over quota.
I asked the Quinn reps at the show a question that we got a lot: "Many
sites have thousands of users and many groups. First, can you apply
different quotas to different groups? And second, is it possible to
set a quota on a user the first time they use their home directory?
They answered as follows:
"Yes, QA will allow you to set quotas on different users and groups.
And it will also discover new users that use a specific directory for
the first time. You can do both of these by implementing the 'User Learn
Mode' quotas with group associations. You can create templates, give it
a name and set a perm quota, and associate it with any group you want."
Very useful feature. Check out the latest version at:
COMPAQ showed some pretty powerful new 8-way SMP architecture. At the
moment, 4-way servers are the norm, but these machines are going the
way of the dinosaur quickly for high-end use. It's good these new boxes
are going to use the new Intel Xeon III processors. Compaq has been
working with another specialized company called Corollary on their
new Profusion 8-way chip set for more than 2.5 years and it's here now.
The essential features of the architecture are:
- Dual 100 megahertz (MHz) processor buses
- Dedicated 100-Mhz I/O bus
- 8-way multiprocessing with Pentium III Xeon CPU's
- Multiported system architecture with a 5-point crossbar switch
- Dual-ported interleaved memory
- Uniform memory access for all eight processors
- Up to four Compaq designed host-to-PCI bridges
- Up to 32 GB of Synchronous Dynamic RAM
My take: this is mainframe-like architecture and if you have some spare
cash lying around it's time to buy Compaq stock while it's as low as it
is. It may take a while but these guys are going to turn their company
around for sure.
DELL showed some pretty awesome brand new storage solutions called
PowerVault. This comes down to 'storage capacity on demand'. It's
built on the latest fibre-channel technology that you normally only
get on mid-range UNIX boxes. It's got full redundancy and external
RAID. You can start with a single channel, low cost SCSI RAID
controller card and later upgrade to four-channel SCSI cards for
high capacity and more performance.
These systems come with a full range of tape back-up solutions (incl.
DDS-3 and DLT drives) and even with optional autoloaders and a high-
speed DLT library. So if you are looking for more storage I suggest
you put one of these on your shortlist to check out, and pick up the
DELL Feb 1999 white paper on Storage Area Networks (SAN) solutions
2) WIN NT AND WIN CE ADVENTURES
For my trip to the European TechEd I finally decided that a palmtop (or
handheld) would be nice to keep in touch with the office in Florida. And
though I was tempted by a few other models like Psion or Palm, I decided
that the Microsoft habit of 'eating your own dogfood' would be the most
interesting experience to tell you about.
So, I got myself a Hewlett Packard Jornada with WinCE. Nice machine, well
designed and surprisingly useful keyboard that allows 6-finger typing.
Nice screen too, so all started well and I was happy with my little new
toy. Then the fun started. How to get the Outlook addresses from my NT
WS to the Jornada?
Turns out you have to have WinCE services installed on your desktop. These
came on a CD with the CE-device. BUT, you have to install RAS before that.
And that means you also have to then reinstall Service Pack 4 or 5...
So, twenty minutes and 3 CD's later (Original NT WS, CE services and
Service Pack CD's) everything was installed but it did not make the
connection. Turns out you have to _really_ make sure that the Jornada
sits exactly right in its docking station. But when that was the case
'Lo And Behold' it was possible to synch up the two and I had my 300
Outlook addresses in the palmtop.
Next came the (I thought logical) idea to also get this puppy hooked
up via CompuServe so I could dial in and get my email. Called CompuServe
and got an account. That was only 10 bucks a month so could not break the
bank. After they charged my credit card, I got connected to some one in
their tech department. They basically said, 'Sorry, we do not support CE,
you have to figure this out yourself'.
Since I was short on time, I decided 'play end-user' (meaning not reading
the manual) and to call HP tech support to see if they could hand-hold me
through hooking up to CompuServe. Turned out that they also could not help
and told me to check out http://www.cewindows.com for instructions. Here I
was, a helpless consumer who just wants his device to work with two major
vendor's services Wait, it gets worse.
Still being short on time I decided to bypass CompuServe and simply use my
ISP's ISDN account I had sitting around as a backup for my cable modem.
With some help from my tech support guys this worked like a charm in no
time. So now I was online! Jumped into the airplane for the first leg of
Arrived in Washington airport and went to find a phone with a dataport.
When I got hooked up it was completely unclear looking at the provided HP
Dialer applet how to change from a local call to a long distance. Not in
the on-line help, not in the manual. Still in a hurry and unwilling to dig
into the 100 page manual, called HP tech support again.
Turns out you need to highlight the communications icon, press alt and
hold, then in the properties check the box 'force from local to long
distance'. So that worked too now! Miracles are still possible. I got
and sent a few emails that I had created a bit earlier. Next, I decided
to quickly check if the Internet explorer worded. Should not have done
that. I went to the Sunbelt website, and the welcome page came down just
fine with pictures and all, but a little slower than usual via the 56K
built-in modem. (I'm used to fat pipes)
Now, seasoned CE users will probably start laughing. Yes, the system
completely hung up. Kind of worked only a little bit. Could not load
programs, or if they loaded only the first menu came up. Broke out the
troubleshooting section of the manual. What happened? RAN OUT OF MEMORY!
Worse, WinCE does not give you any warning that this is occurring. It
just hangs, shuts parts of itself down and is singularly unwilling to be
corrected easily. Even the stylus subsystem got confused and did not work
anymore. Poor middle manager that only has a little knowledge of W95. So
I decided again to 'play end user' and call HP Tech support. This time
they told me that I had to delete the temporary internet files to make
space in memory.
Sure, but how to do that in CE when IE will not start and the stylus does
not work? Soft resets did not help, so they said I would likely need to
do a hard reset. That means taking out both the primary and backup
batteries, losing all my painfully loaded Outlook address book stored in
memory! Well, at that point I decided to stop playing end-user and become
the IT pro I'm supposed to be...
Using the keyboard I had to ferret out all the files that were hiding in
the temp internet folder, delete email that sat hidden in a so called
Active Synch directory, and get rid of other files I created while
testing. Then I found out that recalibrating the stylus made that work
again. Next, by choosing the System Icon in the CE control panel I could
make more space for programs in the 16Meg memory and allocate less for
Thirty minutes and 8 reboots later I was back up and running and a bit
wiser. Plug as much memory in CE devices as possible, right from the
start. Next, before you hit the web, turn off caching and do not display
pictures. Make backups to your desktop as often as possible. But imagine
your management (or worse, chronically time constrained road warrior
sales reps) having to cope with this? No wonder that the Palm Pilot is
My opinion: The only way to deploy WinCE in an enterprise environment
is to have a machine that is well configured and tested, in a controlled
environment with well trained end-users or you will find yourself with
But I wrote most of this on the backseat of a taxi in Paris and in the
plane back to the USA, so having one of these CE puppies _does_ have its
advantages, or does it? ;-)
At the show, there was a tiny little WindowsCE pavillion with a few
vendors showing their CE-stuff. One outfit showed their CE-cellphone
software. (The European system is called GSM and is actually working a
whole lot better than the hodgepodge of USA portable phone formats).
This product is a software GSM modem and allows you to hook up your CE-
device directly to the GSM phone and you are on-line. It's called softgsm
and you can find it at http://www.softgsm.com
If you use WinCE, also have a look at SOCKET, an outfit that has all
kinds of PC cards and FlashCards that fit CE. They carry low-power
Ethernet cards, Ethernet I/O cards, Serial and Dual Serial I/O cards,
BarCode wands and laser scanner cards, and (ruggedized) data collection
I/O cards. Something pretty handy is that the ethernet cards come with
a driver that autosynchs with the ethernet it gets plugged into. Think
about your road warrior middle managers...
It's all at http://www.socketcom.com
While I was at the TechEd show, Sunbelt signed an OEM agreement to bring
a product out under private label. This is still a bit under wraps but you
will hear more about it soon. We private label products rarely, but if we
feel a product has great potential and is of long-term strategic interest
for you, we make it a Sunbelt branded product. You will hear more soon!
That's all for this Europe TechEd Special.
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