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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, Aug 9, 2001 (Vol. 6, #60 - Issue #295)
MS Ships WXP Early
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • Vote For Your Fave Tools!
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • Government Regulation Of IT Infrastructure
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • MS Ships WXP Early!
    • Gates Quote Turns Out To Be "Urban Legend"
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Lands' End Manages Group Policy In W2K with FAZAM 2000
    • OpalisRobot Case Study: Disseminate Critical Information
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • Information Warfare
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  EDITORS CORNER

Vote For Your Fave Tools!

I'd like to welcome all new subscribers (we've had a ton recently) and remind you that Sunbelt and W2Knews sponsor a yearly event: The W2Knews? Target Awards 2001. You can vote on over 100 different products, from sixty seven developers, in two dozen categories of system management tools.

It's a great way to see which tools are finalists in each category and also to see what your colleagues are voting for. In many cases this will cut down on your search for new tools, as the shortlists are already prepared for you, and the 'faves' are indicated. Please take a minute to vote. You'll get immediate results after you are done. VOTE HERE:

http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901-TargetAwards

UNDO DEPT: A snafu in a WQuinn press release said Dell was selling Prosignia servers to the US Navy. Wrong, that's PowerEdge please. Some one mixed up two Texas PC-makers ;-)

Warm regards,

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

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  TECH BRIEFING

Government Regulation Of IT Infrastructure

Quite a few people sent me email and asked about HIPAA - The "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act" passed in 1997. It's an example of the Government making stringent requirements regarding security and disaster recovery protection for "individually identifiable healthcare information". I'd not be surprised if something similar is coming down the pike for European sites as well, in a year or so.

So, what's HIPAA mean to YOU, and what does this have to do with MS NT/W2K? More than you think. Healthcare organizations (plus the companies that serve them) basically fall into the same category of business as banks. Yup, you read that right. This means there are certain security and disaster recovery standards you will have to comply with according to Federal law. You can compare it to a Y2K deadline for the healthcare bizz, as a LOT of stuff needs to be in place before a certain date, (or else).

How do you know if HIPAA applies to your networks?

Entities that must comply are:

  • Healthcare providers (hospitals, doctor's offices, etc)
  • Health plan insurance companies like HMO's
  • Healthcare clearing houses (these process claims for providers)
  • If you do business with one of the three above (meaning you transfer healthcare information between yourselves) you are also subject to HIPAA.
In the last case, you are required to have the same level of security as that healthcare organization. Kind of the 'weakest link' principle that is being applied. This law reaches farther than most people know. In a nutshell, it (simplified) boils down to: do you receive individually identifiable health data. If so, better start investigating the HIPAA requirements, follow the necessary steps to become compliant, and self-certify through your lawyer.

The law has several components, and needs to be implemented by different people in organizations that are affected. From the viewpoint of the system administrator that wears the hat of "business continuity planner", you have several requirements:

  • You have to conduct a business impact analysis
  • You have to have a data backup plan
  • You must have an emergency response plan
  • You have to be able to recover applications and data in a reasonable amount of time.
  • You must have a plan testing and revision plan
From my perspective, this boils down to a thorough Disaster Recovery Plan with tested procedures and policy, tools, drills and trained staff in place. And of course security standards and protection at high levels. But you should have that anyway. If you do not: better start planning now!
  NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

MS Ships WXP Early!

CNET just reported that MS has given PC makers the OK to ship WXP as a whole month early. The official launch date was Oct. 25-th but it looks like at least four of the large PC builders can start shipping late September. For the industry this is good news. WXP requires powerful hardware and the new goodies included might sway people to trash their old PC's. That could make total Q4 PC sales look a little better, as total PC sales declined about 8% the last quarter.

And for MS, releasing early makes it very difficult (but not impossible) for any Court to stop the XP release as part of the Federal case that is still slogging its way through the legal system. Last Monday MS asked the Supreme Court to review the recent appeals court ruling. That's well orchestrated timing if you ask me. A great way to stall and get WXP out the door. In case you had not noticed, practicing Law is the High Art of delaying and obstruction.

A lot of parties hope that this will be a shot in the arm for the PC-industry. I expect it to do a little better in Q4, with the news that Intel will slash prices of the 1.8 Ghz P4 up to 50% this month. But for us techies it only means we will have to deal with yet another flavor of Windows that needs to be supported, and one with copy protection to boot.

However, knowing MS, nothing is certain until the code really goes gold. Retail copies of WXP would not be available until Oct. If you have a MS licensing program, you might plan for the next upgrade headache around late Sept. As I said last week, MS sent out the final WXP release candidate to 250,000 people. That was build 2526, and since that time another build (2532) has come out. WXP will also ship with Internet Explorer V6, which seems to be pretty much wrapped up by now.

Keep in mind that due to this early release, MS is falling back on something that system admins do not like. They are leaving stuff out of WXP, that you later can download and add. (Think 100 Meg Service Packs, ugh) Some of these are services that update things like the new Messenger, and .NET alerts.

Gates Quote Turns Out To Be "Urban Legend"

Last issue I referred to Gates and "64Meg" is enough. Well I was wrong twice in the same sentence! [grin] This was sent to me by an alert subscriber.


By BILL GATES (c.1996 Bloomberg Business News)
[...]
QUESTION: I read in a newspaper that in 1981 you said, "640K of memory should be enough for anybody." What did you mean when you said this?

ANSWER: I've said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time.

The need for memory increases as computers get more potent and software gets more powerful. In fact, every couple of years the amount of memory address space needed to run whatever software is mainstream at the time just about doubles. This is well-known. When IBM introduced its PC in 1981, many people attacked Microsoft for its role. These critics said that 8-bit computers, which had 64K of address space, would last forever. They said we were wastefully throwing out great 8-bit programming by moving the world toward 16-bit computers.

We at Microsoft disagreed. We knew that even 16-bit computers, which had 640K of available address space, would be adequate for only four or five years. (The IBM PC had 1 megabyte of logical address space. But 384K of this was assigned to special purposes, leaving 640K of memory available. That's where the now-infamous "640K barrier" came from.)

A few years later, Microsoft was a big fan of Intel's 386 microprocessor chip, which gave computers a 32-bit address space. Modern operating systems can now take advantage of that seemingly vast potential memory. But even 32 bits of address space won't prove adequate as time goes on. Meanwhile, I keep bumping into that silly quotation attributed to me that says 640K of memory is enough. There's never a citation; the quotation just floats like a rumor, repeated again and again.


Well, there you have it. Gates never said it in the first place!
  THIRD PARTY NEWS

Lands' End Manages Group Policy In W2K with FAZAM 2000

FullArmor Corp announced today that the technology savvy retailer Lands' End has chosen its FAZAM 2000 Group Policy management solution to ease the deployment and management of Group Policy in W2K.

"We chose to use FAZAM 2000 because of the time-savings and efficiency the product brings to our Windows 2000 deployment and management strategy," states Tom Johnson, Director of Technical Services at Lands' End. "FAZAM 2000 makes our policy definition process more automated, reducing policy creation and management to minutes rather than hours and days. We also believe that this management solution will help us eliminate any additional people required to support Group Policy across the enterprise."

"Lands' End has a reputation for using cutting edge technology to increase their business effectiveness and customer satisfaction and we are happy they are looking to our technology to continue this goal," states Richard Farrell, CEO of FullArmor. "Group Policy is a major component in Windows 2000's ROI and manageability and we are excited to help Lands' End maximize these benefits with FAZAM 2000."

FAZAM 2000 is a critical solution for enterprises that are looking to take advantage of Windows 2000-based IntelliMirror management capabilities. FAZAM 2000 features include Resultant Set of Policies (RSoP), restore and back-up capabilities, reporting and searching features, delegation options, and scripting. By automating the labor-intensive tasks of GPO creation, distribution and management, FAZAM 2000 is quickly becoming the critical solution for corporate enterprises and ASPs looking to increase the speed, effectiveness, and scalability of their Windows 2000 deployments and ongoing management. You can check the product out over here:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901-Fazam2000

OpalisRobot Case Study: Disseminate Critical Information

OpalisRobot with E-mail Add-on Keeps Investment Community in The Know

The Challenge:

The Liberty Ermitage Group (LEG) is one of the largest hedge fund managers in Europe. Their service is built around portfolio-administration and valuation, using the latest technology. On a daily basis they collect data, use the information to prepare fund (portfolio) valuations and communicate the results to all parties involved. A lot of this is repetitive and needed to be automated.

The Situation:

At LEG, information on financial deals is received electronically and must be made available to employees of the company ASAP. Data is received via several sources, then input in the valuation system. Next, reports made by the Valuation team are then distributed worldwide by fax, e-mail or FTP to many different targets.

Each morning, a dozen staff members had to manually open and read the hundreds of e-mails, then export the information or cut and paste it into a master Excel document so that the information could be reviewed by experts and the company's valuation software. This was a time consuming and therefore expensive task.

The Solution:

Two years ago, an IT staff member at LEG obtained an eval copy of OpalisRobot. It proved to be a valuable and reliable automation solution. They set OpalisRobot to monitor the sending of faxes and e-mails as soon as a new valuation on a fund was received by the system. The IT department did this by configuring OpalisRobot to monitor a "trigger file" in a shared directory.

When new information is added to the trigger file, it sends e-mails and faxes by creating a text file with the extension '.fax'. The file is then sent by the company's email or fax software.

OpalisRobot also updates the organization's historical database and extracts performance data to compile more detailed reports and updates the company's website with the new data. Reports are sent to various uses on a send list. The send list is now written into an Access database, where OpalisRobot uses user-defined parameters to start reporting cycles. Every night OpalisRobot backs up the content of all faxes that were sent out and stores them in a ZIP archive file.

OpalisRobot with it's corresponding E-mail Add-on also automated the retrieval of information from the hundreds of e-mails once opened and manually processed by many staff members. Opalis now "reads" the emails automatically and "looks" for specific information about the funds that the company tracks. When this information is found, it is automatically exported to the master Excel document so that valuation experts and the valuation software can review it.

"OpalisRobot with the E-mail Add-on now copies each and every attachment to an archive directory on the network. Depending on the context of the message or attachment, it can trigger an automated process. For example, all the trades of some of our largest counterparts are received in text or Excel format and loaded into the valuation system. Trades are posted within two minutes after they are received via e-mail." - Dick Moelee, IT Manager Liberty Ermitage Luxembourg S.A.

The Benefits

Before, the procedure of posting 40 trades took about three hours, one hour to check against the original document and additional time to correct mistakes. What's more important, it now happens automatically in the background and there are no keystroke mistakes.

Last, but not least, OpalisRobot reliably reduces the workload of admins. A big advantage is that each process put in OpalisRobot is as good as documented already. Processes are broken down in smaller blocks and the graphical environment makes it easy for new staff members to understand.

  • Environment of the implementation:
  • Windows NT 4.00 (service pack 4) with OpalisRobot
  • SWIFT Alliance Entry (financial software)
  • Tobit (fax software)
  • SunGard INVEST ONE + Apollo (valuation software)
  • Lynx (registration software)
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access)
  • Microsoft Visual Basic
  • Microsoft SQL Server
You can get a 30-day eval of OpalisRobot here:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901-OpalisRobot
  FAVE LINKS

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

  • HP has also a mainframe in the works that runs W2K. Pretty cool stuff
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901FL-HPSuperDome
  • The vmyths.com site debunks a lot of virus hysteria. Guy knows his stuff
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901FL-VirusDebunk
  • Two Galaxies colliding and forming new stars. 100,000 light years across
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901FL-CollidingGalaxies
  • This is how Steve Ballmer whoops up the MS-troops. Seatbelts on!
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080901FL-BallmerDance
  •   PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    Information Warfare

    A release in "Books for IT Leaders" series, Information Warfare explains the methodologies behind hacks and cyber attacks and provides defensive strategies and counter measures designed to help companies survive infrastructure attacks, military conflicts, competitive intelligence gathering, economic warfare, and corporate espionage. The authors are renowned industry experts--Michael Erbschloe has connections with the government and is known for his analysis of The Love Bug.

    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=080601BOW-InfoWarfare