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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Dec 11, 2000 (Vol. 5, #57 - Issue #232)
High Availability
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Get Rid Of That Budget: Top Sellers in 2000
    • High Availability with Double-Take and RadWare
    • Round Robin DNS explained
    • RUMOR: MS May Extend Deadline for NT4 MCSE Exams
    • IDC Reports: W2K Gains Momentum
    • New Concept: Downgrade License
    • Both Sun and Microsoft support XML
    • NEW Storage Management Tool: SpaceMaXX
    • Dell Will Resell Unisys 32-CPU Datacenter Monster
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • MCSE 2000 "Bundle of Four" Blowout!
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Get Rid Of That Budget: Top Sellers in 2000

System Administrators always ask what their colleagues are using to solve problems. One of the ways to look at this is simply check who buys what. It's a very effective survey to find out which tools are the most popular. Well, here is the 2000 Top 10 Best Sellers. And you still have enough time to get rid of that budget. Here goes the list, they are sorted by $US millions in sales. Number 1 has sold the most, #2 a bit less, etc.

  1. Double-Take - High Availability and Disaster Recovery 'in-one'.
  2. StorageCeNTral/Quota Advisor - Best Storage Management Tools
  3. Event Log Monitor - Powerful and Great Value Event Tool
  4. Trusted Enterprise Manager - NT/Exchange Integrated Admin Tool
  5. Sunbelt Domain Reporter - Detailed Domain Documentation
  6. STAT - 'Inside out' Security Scanner finds 900+ known holes
  7. Mail Essentials - Email Security and Management
  8. ScriptLogic - Sick & Tired of Coding Logon Scripts?
  9. NetOp - Fast and Powerful Remote Control
  10. Security Explorer - Solve your NTFS File Permission mysteries

There are four products we only announced later in the year 2000 that did not make it in the 2000 Top 10, but that show a lot of promise. They will likely make it in next year's Top 10. Here goes: OpalisRobot, SuperBoost, QualysGuard and GeoCluster. You'll find them here - http://www.sunbelt-software.com/search_alpha.cfm

So, when did you say we would receive your Purchase Order? [grin]

Our upgrade of 60 workstations from NT to W2K last weekend went very smooth. It was an issue of taking a ghosted standardized snapshot and plugging that on each WS. We got about 15 new Dell Optiplexes to replace old 133's that were still lurking around. I was wrong in assuming we would use Office 2000 Service Pack 2. We didn't put any O2K service packs in place, way to many issues with SP1 and our Techs didn't want to put a brand new SP2 in there either. The security enhancements for Outlook can cause havoc.

We did not get to creating round Robin DNS yet, as another part of the migration ran into a big snag. We use SalesLogix (SLX) for our Sales Force Automation, and the upgrade to SLX 2000 to the Paris, France mirror server lost all the sales notes. (Pretty difficult to talk to your contacts if you do not know what was discussed earlier)

The Sunbelt database was so big that the receiving intermediate Interbase database started throwing stuff out indiscriminately and we did not see that was happening. So our Techs were in emergency scramble mode to get that problem fixed this week, and we have not yet been able to work on the DNS round robin. A lot of you asked for some more detail so our VP Tech did a write-up in the Tech Briefing below. We need to choose between the DNS solution and a third party product like RadWare.

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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High Availability with Double-Take and RadWare

Like I promised here is a customer case study using Double-Take and Radware. On the Double-Take page we have a white-paper in Word format you can download that goes into great detail on how to set this up. Egghead.com was so friendly to help out with this case study. The way they are using the product is in a 'many to one' configuration for web page updates. This has saved them both time and money while improving their overall availability with the combination of Radware's Web Server Director and NSI Double-Take.

With the holiday rush staring them in the face, the IT staff at Egghead.com and OnSale.com had another formidable challenge tossed their way -- merge the two company's ecommerce sites as the two online powerhouses became one site. Did they pull it off? When the dust settled the combined site ranked #7 in holiday traffic and #1 in their category.

"Customers from both companies were able to shop with their old logon at the newly combined site without missing a day of buying" said Barry Hills, CTO for the newly merged companies. Barry credits the success with a strong IT solutions architecture, dedicated employees and cutting-edge tools. "We've designed a very redundant, very scalable and fault-tolerant site, without sacrificing our performance or cost" said Mr. Hills.

When it came time to merge the two sites, corporate databases, search engines, SKUs and URLs all needed to be seamlessly joined and protected. Each business function - from online catalogs to shipping and receiving - forms a fully integrated solution that Egghead.com can scale as it sees fit.

Using Pentium III and Xeon servers, Windows NT, and load balancing switches such as Radware's WSD, the IT staff dropped in server muscle and fault tolerance before, during and after the merge-all without a minute of downtime. "With 30Mb of data streaming in and out of the site constantly, we cannot afford to have any issues"

"We demanded scalability and fault tolerance when we merged our two e-commerce mega sites," said Barry Hills, CTO for Egghead.com. "Using Radware's WSD we're able to drop in additional servers and apps on the fly. Double-Take will give us the ability to be fully fault tolerant and host data at remote sites. Our customers get great performance and 24X7 access at our site with this great combination of hardware and software."

Case Study of Radware and Double-Take at Egghead (DOC-896,512 bytes) Fourth item in the White Papers, Documents and Other Files section:

Round Robin DNS explained

(by Chad Kemmerlin, VP Tech Services Sunbelt)

There are many of you that wanted to know how Sunbelt is going to be resolving our recent issues with our ISP having some connectivity problems and the fact that our DNS servers were both on the same ISP. Stu mentioned in his last newsletter that we were looking at using round-robin DNS as well as Radware (explained above) to solve the problem.

Here is a quick explanation of round-robin DNS: It is, essentially, providing two or more IP addresses for a domain using A records in your DNS server. When requests are made for that domain the DNS server will alternate between these IP addresses pulling the site from several servers.

In Sunbelt's case, we have four servers that serve up our site. We will be putting several DNS servers in place. Our primary will be local but using a separate ISP than our local web servers. Another will be on our current ISP and the last is located at our disaster recovery site in Texas. We use Double-Take to replicate all content.

Using round-robin DNS, our site will be pulled from all locations. In the event that our main ISP has connectivity problems, I can modify the DNS records on our primary DNS to use our off-site location. Conversely, if the off-site location has problems a modification will be made to use the Florida site only.

If the primary DNS' ISP goes down then the secondaries will handle the requests. By using the round-robin DNS our downtime will be minimized. I can also use monitoring software, like Event Log Monitor or scripting software like Opalis Robot to automatically make the modifications to the DNS servers if there is a failure.

Our objective is to have everything redundant and accessible, just in case. This has been on our "To Do List" and the recent problems have pushed it to the top! :-)


RUMOR: MS May Extend Deadline for NT4 MCSE Exams

MCPMag.com reported just yesterday that according to sources outside Microsoft, the company is considering an extension on the deadline for completing three key Windows NT 4.0 exams (70-067 Server, 70-068 Server in the Enterprise, and 70-073 Workstation). The new deadline is estimated to be Feb. 28, 2001.

Sources say the extension consideration is likely the result of the influx of test takers who have been turned away from test centers due to test slots being filled to capacity. Simply put, seats have sold briskly and Microsoft may extend the deadline at the behest of test centers, so that those centers can accommodate candidates for another two months. Members of the Microsoft Certification and Training group couldn't be reached for confirmation.

Microsoft isn't expected to extend the deadline for updating MCSE certification to the Windows 2000 track. MCSEs who have certified on NT 4.0 will still need to take the new exams by the end of 2001 in order to retain their certification titles.

In a related issue, the new Rebel Alliance for an independent NT Certification got a carefully worded approval from Redmond. Quote: "Microsoft acknowledges the IT industry has the need for a broad range of certifications. These certification types range from credentials for IT job market entrants to specialized credentials. The newly announced NT Certified Independent Professional credential may meet the needs of some organizations." End Quote.

The NTCIP found a group that is willing to do its testing for it as well: the National Electronics Service Dealers Association. And the talks with VUE have been reopened. Lanop (who created the NTCIP) stated it received more than 2,500 applications for NT-CIP Certs and that more than a thousand have already been issued under its 'grandfather' clause. (means existing MCSE-certs are valid to be transferred into NTCIP ones that only expire in another 5 years) Check out the NTCIP site over here. (The site looks like a beta but I guess they have been too busy with things like fighting MS)

IDC Reports: W2K Gains Momentum

IDC is one of the largest IT market analysis firms. They just came out with a new research reports that shows MS is selling W2K at a healthy clip. And as one would expect, they also predict that sales will accelerate over all new versions in 2001.

Al Gillen, manager of IDC?s System Software research said: "This is the first quarter that Windows 2000 shipments will exceed Windows NT shipments, and that gives you an indication that the product is growing nicely for Microsoft"

According to the analyst firm, W2K shipments will outpace NT by 1.7 million units during Q4, 2000. They expect that by the end of next year, W2K would be around 70% of all combined W2K and NT sales. Microsoft has been pretty cagey about their W2K sales figures, and even at this seemingly happy occasion declined to comment.

Obviously the largest chunk of these numbers are for W2K Pro. Nobody is going to happily upgrade all their NT servers for W2K just for fun. But that is just the thing we will see happen over the next 2 years. I have seen numbers predicting 50 to 70% of all new servers in 2001 having W2K preinstalled.

New Concept: Downgrade License

What the heck is that? This allows you to buy a W2K license, but actually install an NT license until you are ready to upgrade to W2K. IDC's Gillen continued with: "I think one of the factors that is helping Windows 2000 shipments is Microsoft?s downgrade license". Microsoft cannot see what people actually deploy so they allow you to use either option. Makes sense.

W2K Pro is going to see the fastest growth for obvious reasons. It now supports stuff that NT4 could not deliver: USB, improved power management, and plug-and-play instead of plug-and-pray. It is not quite clear yet how much W2K Pro is going to cannibalize W98 and ME, but it's really two different markets, respectively commercial and consumer.

Both Sun and Microsoft support XML

In a welcome relief from the Java Wars, both Sun and MS stressed their commitment to XML a the XML 2000 conference in Washington. Both outfits discussed the ways they will deploy and promote the technology. IDG news said that Sun believes XML is the center of the Internet and likes the way XML fits its view of open standards. As reported in W2Knews recently, Microsoft views XML as the glue to exchange data on any platform an language and across any network. Looks like we have 'pure brew' undiluted standard for a change.[grin]

SMS and W2K User Conference in Las Vegas March 5-9, 2001

I wanted to alert you on the SMS & W2K User Conference that Altiris sponsors with Microsoft and Compaq. This is the 4th annual SMS & W2K User Conference. The conference was formerly hosted by Computing Edge, which was recently acquired by Altiris. The event is now sponsored by Altiris, Microsoft and Compaq.

The conference is devoted to Microsoft SMS and Windows 2000 admin and how each will be used in the enterprise. Keynote presentation will be by both Microsoft and GartnerGroup. Dates of the conference are: March 5-9, 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Register by December 31, 2000 and save $200. Click http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=121100sms


NEW Storage Management Tool: SpaceMaXX

Q: What is it? A: SpaceMaXX is a low-cost disk space monitoring & alerting tool. It can report on a disk partition level (e.g. drive letters D: E:). It reports via a web interface on your disk space usage on all Windows platforms: 95/98/ME/NT and 2000. It recognizes and reports on traditional server-attached storage, but also storage- attached networks (SAN), and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. (The latter two are modern storage architectures that do not need a separate server to manage the disks)

Q: On what platforms can I install it? A: SpaceMaXX Server runs on Windows NT/2000, 9X servers and NAS devices, while the 'Pro' version runs on single Windows NT/2000, 95, 98, or Millennium Edition desktops.

Q: How easy is it to use? A: It's literally "a matter of just minutes". Using SpaceMaXX's web based and interactive HTML reports you can keep servers, desktops and NAS devices from turning into dumpsters. SpaceMaXX's storage resource management reports can identify the need for other ways to manage your storage. An example would be to archive files to a tape device. SpaceMaXX is extremely easy to use directly out of the box with its 27 Standard reports and limitless number of custom reports.

Q: What kinds of report formats does it output? A: HTML (and this actually is interactive and you should see it), Excel and Text.

Q: What is the difference between the Server and 'Pro' versions? A: You can fire up the Professional only via the icon on the task bar. It just includes partition level monitoring/alerting, the Best Practice report set and the ability to clean up Temp files. The server version also includes 27 more reports and the ability to create custom reports and report sets.

This puppy is actually pretty useful. Download it and take a test drive, you'll be up and running in minutes! Make sure you try the pre-configured interactive HTML "Best Practices" report. It shows you immediately the storage health and content on any of your NT/2000 boxes, 9x, Me desktops and NAS appliances.

I am pretty sure you'll like what you see. Best thing is, this tool is really a good value, only $149 for a Server and it's not 'Client/ Server' so you only need one per admin. SpaceMaXX Pro for individual desktops is $29 per workstation with a 100-workstation minimum. You can map a drive to any storage device and manage it from your own chair.

Gary Giberson, IT manager for SAP America in Newtown Square, Pa., has looked at SpaceMaXX. "We would deploy it most likely in our network operations center to monitor our NT storage," he says. "It would monitor disk storage utilization so we could redeploy storage across our EMC SAN as it filled up in one location or another." Giberson has EMC Symmetrix Fibre Channel arrays connected to NT, Solaris and HP-UP servers via McData switches.

Last Q: Where can I get an eval version? Last A: Why, here of course:

Dell Will Resell Unisys 32-CPU Datacenter Monster

A little birdie from within Unisys told me this a few days ago and another trusted industry source confirmed the news yesterday. You may remember I reported on the Unisys 'Big Iron' in the Feb 28, 2000 issue. it's 8, 16- and 32-CPU capable.

So Dell is now doing the same thing that Compaq and HP already did. Resell the Unisys monster as the high-end of their product lines. The mainframe quality hardware now allows Dell to offer a combo of both 32-bit PIII's and 64-bit Itanium chips in the same box. It will run W2K Datacenter, but you can chop it up in partitions an run NT on it as well (concurrently). Dell sells a lot of storage, and I think this is another avenue for them to sell even more into the enterprise.

PS, I just bought a Dell Dual Pentium III 933MHz box for my home LAN with W2K, 256MB ECC RAM, a 40Gig HD, TNT video card and CD burner. I need to hook it up and then I'll write about some benchmarks I'm running.


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • The best IT rumor and inside scoop site:
  • The WebOpedia has a bunch of good stuff! Here is a definition you'll like:
  • SecureLogix Corp has a tool called TeleWall that protects against breakings in your telephone networks:

    MCSE 2000 "Bundle of Four" Blowout!

    MCSE Training Guide: Core Exams "Bundle of Four!" By: New Riders (70-210, 70-215, 70-216, 70-217) Suggested Retail: $149.99. But the Sunbelt BookClub Price is only: $89.99! Killer deal.

    The bundle includes the four core Training Guides for Windows 2000 exams, including:

  • MCSE Training Guide (70-210): ICA Windows 2000 Professionals
  • MCSE Training Guide (70-215): ICA Windows 2000 Server
  • MCSE Training Guide (70-216): I & A Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  • MCSE Training Guide (70-217): I & A Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure

    You must take four core exams-ICA Windows 2000 Professional (70-210), ICA Windows 2000 server 970-216), and I & A Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure (70-217)-in order to obtain your MCSE for Windows 2000. New Riders Training Guides have changed to address the new needs of the audience, since the entire MCSE exam structure has changed, with the release of Windows 2000. Adaptive testing, emphasis on hands-on knowledge, and a more skills-focused design are all addressed.