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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, Jan 17, 2002 (Vol. 7, #5 - Issue #336)
Three New Products!
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • Three New Products!
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • IDC Study Finds Users Undecided on Licensing 6.0
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • News Roundup!
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Looking For Enterprise Wide, Policy Based Security? - Introducing Pentasafe's VigilEnt
    • Test Server Capacity, Scalability And Network Performance - Introducing Benchmark Studio Professional
    • How Fast Are Your Files? What Are Your Hotfiles? - Introducing Sunbelt hIOmon
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • Home Automation And Wiring
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  EDITORS CORNER

Three New Products!

Hi All,

There is a torrent of news coming down the pike at the moment, and on top of that we are introducing a whoppin' THREE new products at the same time, so I'm keeping this intro very short. You should check out the Third Party News section for sure.

And this week's winner of an XBOX is Daniel Silverman of Siemens in Canton, MA. Congratulations!

Warm regards,

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

  SPONSOR: DOWNTIME PREVENTION
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replication. You can use it for either High Availability and/or
Disaster Recovery. It is your main job to prevent downtime for NT and
W2K networks. Double-Take is the industry leading product that will help
you do just that. Because it is not a matter of "if" disaster strikes.
Fires, floods and other mayhem always happens when you least expect it.
Visit DOWNTIME PREVENTION for more information.
  TECH BRIEFING

IDC Study Finds Users Undecided on Licensing 6.0

After the introduction of Licensing 6.0 last year, Microsoft received broad criticism from industry observes about its new licensing program. While the company backed down on some aspects of the program, by extending the length of time that customers had to align their software licensing with Microsoft's program requirements, the long-term ramifications of Licensing 6.0 remain unchanged.

A September 2001 study by IDC (Framingham, Mass., www.idc.com) evaluated 334 users' reactions to the licensing program. Not surprisingly, some of the most vocal critics were those that found the licensing untenable. But what turned out to be a surprise was the small number of users that cite it as the final straw in their relationship with Microsoft.

According to the study, 15.4% of the survey participants (consisting of IT managers at organizations that use Windows Server operating environments) cite Licensing 6.0 as the incentive for them to explore alternative products. It is probably not a coincidence that this group is more likely than other survey participants to already have non-Microsoft operating systems installed.

Two other segments of the survey participants are solidly in Microsoft's camp, even with the changes in Licensing 6.0. Those segments, who say their buying plans are unchanged by the new licensing program, and another group that says the new licensing terms are not disruptive to their plans. Combined, these two groups account for 21% of the survey sample.

This does not mean Microsoft's new Licensing 6.0 is guaranteed to be a success: the largest group in the study indicated that they?re still trying to understand what Licensing 6.0 means for them. This segment is a prime ground for competitors to plant doubts and present compelling alternatives. These users also could opt to "just say no" to Licensing 6.0, and sit on their current Microsoft licenses for years to come. Which way this group opts to go will be influential on the overall success of Licensing 6.0. ? Al Gillen

IDC Study name: Confusion Reigns Among Windows Users over Microsoft Licensing (IDC #25860, Sept. 2001)

  NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

News Roundup!

Rumors are flying around that W2K Service Pack 3 might be around the corner in the coming few weeks. Just a heads-up in case it's real!

MS said it has fixed that flawed domain name server that prevented users of Windows XP from downloading software updates and security patches over the past few days.

Visual Studio.NET has been released quietly this week. Microsoft Developers can download it from the MS Web site, together with the .NET Framework Software Development Kit (Free set of tools and documentation for releasing .NET programs built with Visual Studio tools).

Microsoft claimed its new volume licensing model is a hit with big business. They say they want to expand it for small and medium business. MS would be handling the negotiation, billing and collection of software upgrades. Research by ICD and Sunbelt though shows a very different picture. A large group of customers are still on the fence and confused. See Tech Briefing above for detail.

  THIRD PARTY NEWS

Looking For Enterprise Wide, Policy Based Security? - Introducing Pentasafe's VigilEnt

Well here it finally is. A complete, end-to-end security product. The Pentasafe VigilEnt suite of tools is a powerful and flexible, top-down, enterprise-wide, policy-based security solution that is remarkably easy to implement. It takes people as well as technology into account.

If your organization has decided they need something over and above security "point solutions", this is the thing to look at. VigilEnt Security Manager was Secure Computing Magazine's "Best General Security Product" for managing and reporting information security across a heterogeneous enterprise.

Managing information security in a heterogeneous IT environment has never been more complex and demanding. As organizations begin to centralize responsibility for information security, the consolidated management of the security infrastructure has become a priority. Most information security professionals are looking for an effective means to automate, centralize, and standardize enterprise-wide security management. In doing so, you can accomplish more with fewer staff resources while improving the overall security of your organization and your ability to monitor and respond to security events.

Product Architecture Conceptual Overview
You start with the VigilEnt Security Manager. This is basically the Central Console and can be accessed by two administrators from day one. (More console licenses can be added later). Next, you choose the agents you need for your different platforms, whether these are web servers, NT/W2K servers, Cisco devices, Firewall-1, Unix or Linux, or AS/400 machines. The full Suite is comprised of these different modules:

  • VigilEnt Security Manager (VSM)
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for NT/W2000
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for Unix
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for Linux
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for BEA Weblogic
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for Webserver
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for Check Point Firewall-1
  • VigilEnt Security Agent for Cisco Secure IDS
  • VigilEnt Security Manager (VSM)
VSM and the supporting VigilEnt Security Agents provide a very comprehensive and possibly even more importantly, a centralized interface across the enterprise ? including auditing, real-time activity detection, security reporting and analysis. VSM provides a powerful management tool that comprehensively brings together multiple IT components across your environment to identify vulnerabilities, detect security events, take corrective action, and generate detailed reports.

From the VigilEnt Security Manager console you can manage and report security across your entire IT infrastructure including operating systems (Windows 2000/NT, UNIX, Netware and AS/400), databases (Oracle, MS SQL Server and Sybase), enterprise apps (PeopleSoft and JD Edwards), web servers (IIS, Apache and iPlanet), application servers and perimeter defense products such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

VSM enables you to manage the complex scale of information security both in depth and across platforms as a focal point for enterprise security command and control. VSM provides a common user admin interface, for example, that allows you to manage multiple profiles and users across heterogeneous technologies and domains.

VSM incorporates a central data repository for all security events and variations as reported by Agents so you can generate common reports on security activities from multiple IT components across the enterprise. ActiveAudit technology also allows you to comprehensively manage user and group functions for all components.

VigilEnt Security Agent for Windows 2000/NT is a powerful auditing, real-time activity detection, and security reporting and analysis tool for managing Windows 2000/NT security across the enterprise. Audit capabilities incorporated in VigilEnt Security Agent for Windows 2000/NT help establish a security baseline and ensure proper security policy implementation, enabling you to rapidly set security parameters to measure against.

VSA for Windows NT/2000 allows you to adjust filters and rules to protect against attacks, as well as automatically initiate a coordinated response to specific attacks. PentaSafe's ActiveAudit technology enables corrective action across multiple machines through an easy to use on-screen report function.

VSA for Windows 2000/NT provides host-based rules and filtering that provides real-time analysis of Windows 2000/NT log data using baseline variances. Suspicious activity can be detected in real-time with instant alert notification. It offers powerful reporting capabilities with custom filtering to deliver the most relevant information in summary or detailed format.

  • Provides full management of Windows 2000/NT security including Active Directory objects and security features
  • Includes more than 200 key audit checks
  • Provides customizable security measurement and baseline reporting.
  • Reports on the latest vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that are continually updated by PentaSafe's security Knowledge Team
  • Offers easy, remote installation of agents on multiple servers with a convenient installation wizard
  • "Security Checkpoint" feature provides an easy starting point for establishing security benchmarks or baselines for Windows 2000/NT server security
  • Tracks security events in real-time so that threats can be detected and handled immediately
  • Allows automatic filtering and triage of the most important events. Contains more than 170 ready-to-use event detection rules that are continuously updated to match current threats
  • Provides unified reporting and security actions in one integrated security console ? so you can do more for less (Audit/Secure/Detect)
  • Provides event summary reports that can be run on demand or scheduled, saving time and effort
  • Agent runs on and provides security services for:
    • Windows 2000 Professional
    • Windows 2000 Server
    • Windows 2000 Advanced Server
    • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation
    • Windows NT 4.0 Server
And then we have not even talked about all the other agents! Check this out on the website. We are talking a wall-to-wall, multi-platform, "people and machines", type solution here. In Sunbelt's tradition, we have done our homework, and this is a best-of-breed product, with stellar references. We're behind this one. Have a look and download their demo which shows some of the security out-points they check for. We'd like to invite you for a full eval though. Start here:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021017TP-PentaSafe

Test Server Capacity, Scalability And Network Performance - Introducing Benchmark Studio Professional

Benchmark Studio is a client/server load simulation and performance testing solution for Windows NT 4.0, W2K and Windows XP- based PCs, servers and network environments.

Designed around the Microsoft Component Object Model (COM), and incorporating both ActiveX client and server components, Benchmark Studio allows you to create sophisticated runtime testing scenarios for qualifying PC hardware capacity, server scalability and network performance.

Benchmark Studio has recently been featured in InfoWorld Magazine. Their recent Test Center analysis of Windows XP client/server performance was based entirely on results derived from the Professional Edition of Benchmark Studio 2.0. You can read the entire article on InfoWorld's web site. CSA Research continues to provide engineering support to the InfoWorld Test Center and uses input from the InfoWorld readership to help shape future versions of its test tools.

Product Features

  • Dynamic Load Simulators
    Create sophisticated client/server testing scenarios using a variety of discreet load simulation objects. Benchmark Studio Load Simulators work at the operating system level, exercising key subsystems like the ActiveX Data Object (ADO) and Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) to create realistic client-side workloads. Test Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ) and Windows Media Services from a single, integrated runtime environment.
  • Business Productivity Test Scripts
    All versions of Benchmark Studio include CSA's award-winning OfficeBench linear test script. OfficeBench uses Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to drive Office 2000 or XP through a scripted series of compound document creation, generation and publishing tasks. Run OfficeBench by itself or combine it with various concurrent client/server workloads to create a next-generation knowledge worker test scenario.
  • Comprehensive Process and System Metrics
    Track a variety of processor, memory and I/O-related metrics. The base Benchmark Studio package includes Test Script, Load Simulator and general System metrics modules that work in concert with the various loading and testing objects to provide a concise picture of system capacity, scalability and performance. It's like having a custom, task-oriented version of Performance Monitor built right into the application.
  • Centralized Results Storage
    Store test session results from multiple Studio clients in any centrally-accessible database. Our new AutoSave feature auto- matically records the most recent test results and configuration parameters to the database of your choice.
  • Remote Automation Support
    Control dozens of Benchmark Studio clients from a single console workstation. Manually start, stop and track load simulator and test script activity, or define a custom execution schedule for each client. The Remote Automation kit is bundled as part of the Studio Starter Kit available exclusively through Sunbelt Software.
  • Works with Windows XP
    All editions of Benchmark Studio support Windows NT 4.0 (SP6), Windows 2000 and Windows XP from a single installation image. Perform true cross-platform comparisons using a variety of load simulation and performance testing scenarios.
  • Extensible Architecture
    Benchmark Studio sports a robust object model that allows 3rd party or in-house developers to easily enhance and extend the platform's base functionality. Test Scripts, Load Simulators, even System Metrics Modules - every component is an object that can be tapped by any COM-aware development environment.
Product Benefits
  • A Powerful, Scalable Solution
    Simulate up to 200 concurrent, client/server application workloads spanning 85 different back-end server resources ? all while using just 5 physical client PCs. Extensive configurability means each client workload can provide a unique simulation effect while a discreet process architecture allows for true linear scalability across both single and multiprocessor (SMP) PC platforms. Workloads can be executed singularly or in tandem to simulate complex, multi- tiered runtime scenarios.
  • Stress Test Microsoft BackOffice
    The Professional Edition of Benchmark Studio provides load simulation objects covering a wide range of Microsoft BackOffice Servers, including SQL Server (ADO), Exchange Server (CDO), Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ) and Windows Media Services. Stress test Microsoft SQL Server using a variety of connection types and protocols or conduct message store scalability analysis using a native MAPI client workload simulator.
  • Integrated Performance Tracking
    All Benchmark Studio simulation and testing objects are tracked by an integrated system and process metrics server that provides detailed reporting on a variety of CPU, memory and I/O-related performance counters. Combined with internal, workload-specific metrics (for example, ADO database transaction times), the Benchmark Studio metrics server makes it easy to profile specific workloads and/or test scripts while itself consuming less than 1% of the available client-side processor time.
  • Centralized Management and Reporting
    A separate Automation Console (bundled with the Sunbelt Special Edition) provides centralized control over multiple Benchmark Studio- equipped PCs. Schedule workload simulation tasks individually, on a per-client basis, or network-wide. The Automation Console's intuitive user interface makes it easy to orchestrate elaborate, multi-client test scenarios that span dozens of clients, server and network connections.
  • Extensible, Object-Oriented Architecture
    Benchmark Studio provides a robust, extensible object framework that can be configured to host additional load simulation and test script components. 3rd party and in-house developers can tap the framework to gain direct access to the simulation logic and even roll their own components to expand the framework's functionality. For example, CSA Research currently offers its ASP Stress 2.0 add-on module for Benchmark Studio, allowing IT shops to add 3-tier client/server database application simulation capabilities to the base Studio capabilities set.
  • Intuitive, Intelligent User Interface
    All Benchmark Studio components have a common look/feel, and the entire environment can be managed from a single tree-based UI shell. Manually start/stop specific workload combinations or link them to a Test Script for true push-button, turnkey operation. The entire environment is designed to deliver optimal efficiency and flexibility while hiding much of the underlying runtime complexity.
Get your eval at:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117TP-BenchMarkStudio

How Fast Are Your Files? What Are Your Hotfiles? - Introducing Sunbelt hIOmon

You know how fast your CPU is, your drives, attached SCSI, the speed of your NICs, and perhaps ever the speed of your RAM, but how fast are your files? Isn't there something missing?

Computer performance is important, it's clear why. After all, that's the reason we keep getting faster processors, faster disk drives, more memory, faster interfaces, etc.

Files (and file performance) is a crucially important part of computers, often forgotten. Much of the actual, useful work performed by systems involves (often extremely frequent) access to files.

So, if computer performance is important, and files are an important part of computers, then maybe we should be looking into the performance of our files. And if we can increase the I/O performance of our files (especially since storage I/O is often the slowest part of the computer), then we should find ourselves with faster computer performance overall.

So, we're introducing a new category of tools here: I/O Monitors. And this is what they do: identify your hot files, and identify files with poor I/O performance. They allow you to measure and monitor the I/O performance of your files at the file level. Sure, you can simply assume that, for instance, a faster disk storage subsystem will make your files faster. But do you really know how much faster if at all?

That is, got any real and accurate and precise numbers to back up the claims? And if you're wondering, for example, whether or not the added expense is worth it (since better performance usually commands a premium price, then it's good to have the empirical numbers when deciding what to do.

So that's one practical use for I/O Monitors: determining the actual impact (with precise measurements as evidence) of computer system changes on file I/O performance (and overall computer performance). BTW, these system changes include more memory, faster processors, file system structure, etc. besides the storage devices themselves.

A few more examples and uses of I/O Monitors:

How much did that defrag actually help? (overall response times) Can I choose to wait to defrag until the max (or perhaps average) response time reaches a particular value?

You are perhaps thinking about purchasing/using a RamDisk, SSD or other high performance storage device? Then you'd probably want to find your hot files (including respective sizes) and place just those select files - and only those files - upon the (usually more expensive) storage solutions.

Want to figure out how much that proposed NAS, SAN, or whatever "alphabet soup" solution actually helps the I/O performance? Get the actual performance numbers using your very own files!

Planning Storage Virtualization? Once you enter the "virtual storage ether", being able to measure and monitor the I/O performance at the file level becomes even more key. Almost mandatory if you are in the process of adopting emerging storage technologies.

Working with Quality-Of-Service? (QoS). Especially with more outsourcing of storage. With Alert capabilities and System Event Log support, I/O Monitors can help you verify and ensure that required levels of QoS at the level of file I/O performance are being met. Also along these lines, suppose your users call to complain about poor application performance. You can use an I/O Monitor to take a quick look to see if the associated files (and, moreover, which particular files) are experiencing degraded I/O performance (e.g., excessive read and/or write activity, large data transfers, poor response times).

Are you finding I/O Performance declines? That might be a hint of pending disk storage problems (and while this is a bad situation, at least you can quickly determine top-down which specific files are being impacted, as opposed to trying to figure out which files bottom-up from the devices). After all, it's really the files that count (with some files being more important than others).

So here is Sunbelt's hIOmon. It will do all the above and then some. Check it out and get your 30-day eval!
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117TP-hIOmon

  FAVE LINKS

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

  • Great Home Automation video's about X10 and other goodies. You need Realplayer:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117FA-HomeAutoMovies
  • Good site about home automation and links to useful resources: ElectronicHome:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117FA-ElectronicHouse
  • Forwarding email but it looks messy? Highlight and MailCleaner does its job!
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117FA-MailCleaner
  • Very cool little device. 64MB on a chip in a steel enclosure. Endless usage:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020117FA-ibutton
  •   PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    Home Automation And Wiring

    Since I am now building a house and plan to automate it up to the gills, I was given this book by one of my co-workers. It's very useful to read and gives you the perspective of the "electronic architect" that you need to have before you even start automating and wiring your home. This book gives the conceptual overview so you can ask yourself the questions you need to answer before you start wiring. Recommended reading!
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020114BW-HomeAutomation