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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, Mar 22, 2001 (Vol. 6, #19 - Issue #254)
Digesting Tech Purchases
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Digesting Tech Purchases
    • What Are The Most Used Tools?
    • NT and W2K Service Pack Schedules
    • Careful With Wireless Technologies
    • Get A "Real-View" Of Your Exchange Network
    • Check If Your Product Has Been Updated!
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Windows 2000 Administrator's Black Book
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Digesting Tech Purchases

High Tech has a headache. Why? It's not just the economy alone. They are hit with multiple waves at the same time. First it was massive spending to upgrade everything to prevent Y2K 'meltdown'. Then it was the Internet Bubble that prompted everyone to spend on Tech like there was no tomorrow. A good illustration is the fact that early last year big-tech company earnings were a mind boggling 42% over the year before.

So, prompted by the fact the Bubble burst April 2000 two things happened to high tech. A whole raft of dotcoms failed cutting into high-tech revenues. Next is that a lot of companies slowed down their Internet investments as well. Combined with the slowdown in growth of the general economy making CEO's a bit skittish to sign off on large IT investments you get this combined result of IT purchases slowing down.

In many cases, companies now have the IT infrastructure they need, new servers, workstations, websites, and applications that are supposed to make all this work. Organizations are now trying to leverage and integrate all the IT investments that have been made in the last few years. You could say we've been pigging out on IT, and arrived at the inevitable digestive phase, not to mention upgrade fatigue.

So now is the time to get all these systems optimized, play nice together, and get some more control over your environment. System Management tools are the kind of thing that you will now be able to get approval for in this time of consolidation. You know where to get them.

Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman

PS: The work on your new Profile is getting along well. We've also found a great lil' reward for you when you update your profile. Wait for the announcement in the next few weeks.
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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What Are The Most Used Tools?

A recent discussion on the Sunbelt Community NTSYADMIN list resulted in a compilation by JayW of the most used of "general tools" that all System Admin's need to get. He tried to stay away from specific recommendations and application support, but rather just general NT Admin support. So, here's what everybody else is using!

    • Anti-Virus
    • Defragger
    • Zip Utility
    • Text Editor
    • Scripting Tools
    • NTFS Boot Utility
    • Password Cracker
    • Remote Control
    • Resource Kit
    • Documentation Tools

    • User/Domain Management
    • Performance Management
    • Inventory Software
    • Deployment Software
    • Cloning/Imaging Software
    • Event Log Monitor
    • High Availability Software
    • Storage Management
    • Active Directory Management
    • Network Management
    • Policy Management
    • Disaster Recovery System

    • Firewall
    • Intrusion Detection Systems
    • Vulnerability Scanners
    • Encryption Tools
Here is the list charter for your free subscription if you want to discuss NT/W2K system admin things on an immediate basis with almost 5,000 of your colleagues:

NT and W2K Service Pack Schedules

In the last newsletter I said SP2 for W2K was expected in Q1. Whoops. That was Q2, 2001. And NT 4.0's SP7 is expected to arrive in Q3 this year so you'd better plan for thorough testing and deployment in the second half of this year.

Careful With Wireless Technologies

OK, they are creeping up everywhere, wireless links. Infrared comm between Palms, Apple with their AirPort hub, and cordless phones on the 2.4 gigahertz band to name a few. Better brace for mid-air collisions. There's a whole bunch of these technologies coming down the pike, but it's very early days. Corporate networks will not be far behind, as they promise the fabulous anywhere, anytime computing 'heaven'.

Well, there is trouble in paradise. Many of these devices use the more and more crowded 2.4 gigahertz band of the radio spectrum. Wireless technologies come with different names. One is Apple's Wi-Fi which really is the 802.11b standard. Something close to that is called HomeRF, and then there is Bluetooth of course.

The latter will allow communication up to 30 feet between cell phones, handhelds, pagers, laptops, and devices like printers. Where's the catch? When radio signals use the same frequency, they collide and this corrupts the signal. They need to retransmit and that slows things down. The FCC had really not intended the 2.4G-band to be used for 8 different household devices, more like an experimentation zone that entrepreneurs could use to test new wireless devices.

The interference that this causes between devices needs to be solved by the engineers that build them. They have to be robust enough to cope with the inevitable noise. But this is not really a good recipe for reliability what so ever. Engineers design these technologies in such a way that when there is signal overlap, your communications "degrade gracefully".

For situations where the connection is intermittent, that's no issue. But when companies start to use this kind of connection for a more persistent and data-intensive situation (like between a PC and its screen) this will start causing interference problems that will be very difficult to trace. And if this stuff is being taken outdoors, the potential problems multiply.

A real life example that could make your life as a system admin hard is the following example. Suppose you work for an advertising agency. You have NT servers and dozens of Macs around. The infrastructure of the building did not cooperate and now a bunch of the Macs are using the AirPort Wi-Fi technology to print and hook up to the network.

But now you are getting Bluetooth devices chattering right next those Macs, and this will very likely cause the Mac connection to your NT servers to go blaaaah. And you're stuck with an intermittent problem that is hell to resolve. Well, you're warned now!


Get A "Real-View" Of Your Exchange Network

It's a good idea to get a "Real-View" of your Exchange network before users start calling you with complaints.

Real-View is one of the most intuitive monitoring management solutions for Microsoft Exchange messaging. Through an intuitive graphical user interface, you can monitor over 750 attributes of your full MS-Exchange setup. Low-level data calls allow you to conduct real-time monitoring of Information Services, Directory Services, Windows Services, Connectors, Queue Sizes and more.

Real-View does not reside on the Exchange server, nor does it require any agent installation. It is an independent solution running on a dedicated workstation. Using minimal bandwidth, Real-View allows you to view your Exchange topologies, as well as graphs, charts and summaries from a web-based console, and even troubleshoot when problems occur.

Moreover, its notification system provides both console and remote alerts that can be set when different thresholds have been exceeded. Remote notification options include SMTP messages, Alpha pages, audible alerts and integrate with third party applications such as Tivoli and Unicenter TNG.

Real-View also provides you with report summaries for simple viewing of your metrics with the click of a button. Some of these summaries include Server Performance, Queue Performance, Connection Availability, Folder Replication, and Public/Private summary information. In addition to the summaries, through the use of *.csv (comma-separated values) Real-View records historical data for Exchange Server performance analysis.

Custom charts can be created to display system metrics. Charting MTA queue levels, server availability, and disk space availability are just some examples of the attributes that Real-View can provide statistics on. Best of all, Real-View can be accessed anytime, anywhere through a java web console to allow for remote administration.

You can run Real-View on any PIII box with a minimum of 128 MB of RAM, and NT 4.0. Real-View supports both NT and W2K. Want to save time? Grab the download, and we'll schedule a walk-thru with you!

Check If Your Product Has Been Updated!

This is the page we update daily to keep you aware of new version of the software you are testing or purchased. Check this page once a month to check for the newest version of your tools: http://www.sunbelt-software.com/search_alpha.cfm


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

  • Raxco now has a very fast (free) web-based defrag analysis tool download
  • Nice site with a bunch of useful W2K hints and tips
  • ZDnet will hold a web-preview of Windows XP on April 2. Check it out:

    Windows 2000 Administrator's Black Book

    This book that will make your life a LOT easier. I know because I co-wrote it. It provides everything you need to know to keep a Windows 2000-based network running smoothly and efficiently. This book is a must-have reference book for system administrators and IS pros who (plan to) install, configure, and support workstations and servers on Windows 2000 networks.

    Windows 2000 System Administrator's Black Book provides all the reference information to anyone who requires a detailed guide to Windows 2000 system administration, security, as well as start-up and shut-down procedures, disk and file systems management, networking, Internet Information Server, and of course Active Directory.