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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, May 7, 2001 (Vol. 6, #32 - Issue #267)
Thanks Much Everyone
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • Thanks Much Everyone
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • Which Machines Would Get An AutoPilot Performance Boost?
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • Marathon Wins, Ships 5Nines Win2K
    • Want To See NT/W2K Source Code? With Some Luck You Can!
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Are Idle Users A Security Risk And Hogging Resources?
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • Windows 2000 Power Toolkit, written by yours truly
  SPONSOR: NTP Software
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  EDITORS CORNER

Thanks Much Everyone

It's been an exciting few last days to say the least. Last Thursday I announced my new book and we got up to THE #2 SPOT on Amazon.com before it dropped back again. Wow. Thanks very much everyone!

But on Friday, disaster struck. The email gods made mincemeat out of the little reminder email I sent. It lost all its formatting and arrived looking like a dog's breakfast. Oh well, you live and learn. Anyway you helped me to show that TECHIES RULE! Did not get yours yet? Go pick up that puppy at:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701-StusNewBook

So now, let's get back to the normal news and see that the hap is.

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

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  TECH BRIEFING

Which Machines Would Get An AutoPilot Performance Boost?

PlanetIT published an article on this, earlier this year. It was done by independent and objective testers without a commercial interest. I'm giving you an extract here, and the link to the full article is at the end, and I suggest you check out the PlanetIT site. It's cool.

"Sunbelt Software claims that its product, AutoPilot, can increase the performance of Microsoft Exchange servers by as much as 40 percent. One school of thought recommends that you optimize server performance by adding additional CPUs, memory or faster disk drives. But AutoPilot is supposed to increase performance simply through software. It uses modules that run like NT services at the kernel level. The company claims that by carefully applying fuzzy logic and neural networking code that reschedules tasks and prioritizes threads, performance gains will be greater than the overhead needed to run the additional code.

"In essence, AutoPilot continually monitors the state of the OS, of each processor and of each thread, and it determines which thread should run next. That sounds pretty impressive, but does it work?

"To test AutoPilot, we ran it on a generic Intel dual-processor Pentium III/600 with 512 MB of RAM and 32 clients. This was a "pure" Microsoft Exchange server, running Exchange 2000 under Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Using parameter-measuring software, we ran a variety of tests with AutoPilot turned on and also with the software turned off. The expected performance boosts not only weren't there -- they were hardly even measurable. This was disappointing, to say the least. Then something pretty obvious occurred to us: If the product was dealing with prioritization, there wouldn't be any contention on a server running only one program.

"So with that theory in mind, we loaded Microsoft SQL Server and MS IIS on our test server. We then started doing large SQL queries and Web page hits in addition to sending varying sizes of mail packets back and forth between our Outlook client PCs. AutoPilot kicked in, and it worked! We saw substantial performance boosts -- not 40 percent, mind you, but improvements of between 15 percent and 28 percent, depending on what processes were in play on the server.

"The optimal environment for AutoPilot is a system that is receiving a wide mixture of requests. If your Exchange servers also host SQL Server, SMS Server or any other programs that are in contention for CPU and memory, then AutoPilot will definitely be worth purchasing. Granted, this all depends on your budget, as additional CPUs and RAM are often better solutions, but AutoPilot is certainly worth trying out. If you obtain the gains we did, it may well be worth your investment".

The only thing I can add, is that this is of course also true for your workstations. Got lots of stuff running, all contending for resources? AutoPilot should do a good job.

Here's the link for a 30-day trial:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/product.cfm?id=222

Here's the link to buy the new book "W2K Power Toolkit" and get AP free:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701-StusNewBook

  NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

Marathon Wins, Ships 5Nines Win2K

Client Server News reported in their May 7-11 issue that Marathon Technologies won the race to ship 99.999% (5Nines) Win2K-based high-availability clusters based on Dell hardware. The Marathon stuff isn't relying on any particular hardware vendor though, and it will run on pretty much any Intel-based systems.

Today, Marathon will announce that their first 5Nines has been delivered to the Utility Protection Center in Duluth, Georgia. You may not know that Marathon has been in a race with Stratus, whose Win2K 5Nines stuff was supposed to arrive last year.

Of course MS hopes to be able to show the market a 5Nines-box in a big multi-processor environment, like the Unisys 32-CPU system, but that ain't here yet. The hardware the customer is getting was built out of four dual- CPU PowerEdge servers. Marathon's 5Nines architecture designates two of the servers to handle computing tasks. The other two are only doing the I/O tasks needed to get to 5Nines reliability.

I have seen one of these Marathon systems run at the 911 center here in the Florida Pinellas County. Pretty impressive.

Want To See NT/W2K Source Code? With Some Luck You Can!

It depends on where you work. MS plans to widen up its existing source- code licensing agreements. Two new programs will be coming down the pike later this year, that look suspiciously like "open-source", but MS does not want you to call it that.

MS is making its Windows source code more widely available to selected parties. These are people like soft- and hardware vendors, and academic institutions. But MS is working overtime to distance itself from the open software movement. "Our choice is to give the customers what they want, and that is standards for interoperability, more than source code," said Craig Mundie, Microsoft senior vice president of advanced tech.

He called it "shared source philosophy." . MS believes the open-source business model is unsound and unsustainable. Mundie said that MS plans to extend over the next few weeks its Windows 2000 customer source-code license agreements to 12 additional (not yet named) countries. But you can bet your boots these will have enforceable intellectual property laws. Read: They will mainly spread it into Europe.

Mundie added that Microsoft plans to extend its OEM source-code license agreements later this year as well. Microsoft plans to add an academic site-license option to its existing Windows CE Platform Builder program.

  THIRD PARTY NEWS

Are Idle Users A Security Risk And Hogging Resources?

Fortress-NT/2000 might be the right Security Guard. It provides several flexible but tamperproof security enhancements to NT/W2K Workstations and Servers, applied on a per-user or per-workstation basis. Easily to use, Fortress-NT can be remotely installed and configured. Ideal for secure environments. For example, Fortress-NT is in use at Boeing and the United States Coast Guard.

Security enhancement features of Fortress-NT

  • Allow non-Administrator logons only during specified hours, and forcibly log the user off at a predetermined time, ending all tasks initiated by that user. This allows control of workstation logons in addition to domain logons, and logs the user off from the workstation as well as the domain. (Restricting logon hours through User Manager for Domains does not affect a user's ability to use a workstation.)
  • Provides an Idle Logout screen saver which logs the user off after a predetermined period of inactivity. The inactivity delay and the screen saver's running time before logoff can be set independently. The screen saver also displays a logo or other graphic which can be customized.
  • Enforces that the workstation always have a password-protected screen saver enabled with a maximum specifiable delay. Users may still customize their desktops or choose a shorter screen saver delay. Users can also choose any screen saver they wish unless the Idle Logout screen saver is required.
  • Provides the FortLock utility which lets users quickly lock their workstation or logoff with a simple button click, taskbar icon click, or hotkey press. For more information about FortLock, see its online help file.
  • Fortress-NT runs in the current user's logon session. It is intended to be started upon logon, preferably via a logon script. It is not installed as an NT service and does not require the use of any services, although the Event Log service will be used if it is running.
New Functionality of Fortress-NT v3.0
  • Idle Logout Screen Saver - logs out idle users after a predetermined period of inactivity.
  • Guarantee that a password-protected screen saver is always enabled, with a maximum specifiable delay. This goes beyond the enforcement possible with the domain-wide policies, closing some gaps that are left open. Fortress-NT also allows the user to specify a shorter timeout, if desired.
  • Enforcement of logon/logoff times, with more flexible settings than those offered by standard Windows NT/2000 user management; Fortress-NT also lets you specify the duration of a user's session (e.g., logon session cannot last longer than 30 minutes).
  • Remote administrative control: An Administrator can log off a user remotely, start a password-protected screen saver on a remote WS, view workstation and logon session information, or update Fortress-NT policies on the fly.
  • Specify different policies based on time of day and/or NT group membership.
  • FortLock utility that lets users quickly lock their workstation or logoff with a simple button click, taskbar icon click, or hotkey press.
  • Tamper-proof. Users cannot defeat or override Fortress-NT mechanisms.
  • Very small memory footprint, with no impact on system performance.
What are the Product Benefits?
  • Utilities like the new Fortress-NT have been used on other platforms for years and are a trusted helper of NT System Administrators.
  • Despite the fact that very elaborate and powerful solutions exist to make sure hackers do not enter your networks, a very high percentage of security breaks come from a very down to earth cause: employees leaving their workstations with confidential information on the screen or readily accessible.
  • Apart from the security issue, a user that logs on in the morning in an environment where concurrent licensing is in use and grabs a batch of licenses is a resource hog. This can cost a company very expensive additional concurrent licenses.
With Fortress-NT, these problems are a thing of the past. When a user leaves their Workstation, the Fortress-NT tamper-proof screen saver will activate within a short time and only a password will unlock the system. Then after a preset time span and a series of alarms (e.g. 10 minutes) the user gets logged off and all licenses are freed up. This creates both a secure environment and saves significant sums of money in concurrent license environments.

"Fortress-NT works very well and is a solid product. It meets all of the problems we have run into in this area. Once the program is started it cannot be terminated without logging out the current user connections and applications. . ." --Micah O'Connor, Sumitomo Bank Capital Markets

More specs, screenshot, full manual and your 30-day eval here:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701TP-FortressNTW2K

  FAVE LINKS

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

  • UK Scientists developed tractor beams based on Laser that really work
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701-TractorBeams
  • Want your apps to follow you from one computer to the next? How it works:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701FL-UbiquitousLANs
  • Very remarkable gray-hair feature in the "person" icon for User Group.
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701FL-500users-GrayHair
  •   PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    Windows 2000 Power Toolkit, written by yours truly

    As I said in the Editor's Corner, you can now order your W2K Power Toolkit via Amazon.com and get almost 500 bucks worth of software thrown in! If you make your reservation right away, they will ship the book+CD to you the moment they get their big shipment in on the 11-th. W2K power toolkit assist you in the analysis, tuning, opti- mization, automation, enhancement, maintenance, and troubleshooting of Windows 2000. Barry and I show you how to use operating system utilities, Resource Kit applications, and third-party tools to help you accomplish everyday and advanced W2K system tasks.

    And with it, comes a FREE permanent full function copy of AutoPilot for Windows 2000, (See Tech Briefing). You'll find a coupon in the back of the book that allows your free download of these tools. This is a value of $497.00 thrown in at no cost. Here's where:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701-StusNewBook