Raxco unveils suite for Windows NT

Betting on continued growth of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT in the government market, Raxco Software Inc. has introduced an integrated suite of tools for Windows NT that is designed to help manage several essential functions that systems administrators often consider busywork.

Systems managers and network administrators with experience deploying Windows NT helped Raxco Software identify the key functions included in the new product, Instant Pro, which the Gaithersburg, Md.-based company plans to release by the end of this month.

The suite addresses remote control and the management of the disk, the registry, security, emergency repair and the events log, said Robert E. Nolan, president and chief executive officer of Raxco, a privately held company that also specializes in systems management software for Digital Equipment Corp.'s Open VMS platform. "These are the areas that [Windows] NT managers said usurped a lot of their time an energy and detracted from fulfilling their main purpose," Nolan said.

Other system resource utilities on the market are designed to manage local-area networks, directories and distributed applications, but there is not a product that centralizes disk management and provides the other functions that Instant Pro has packaged together, said Philip Mendoza, a systems management software analyst at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.

The suite evolved from a disk management tool that Raxco, released last year called Perfect Disk NT. In March the company released Instant, which loosely integrated remote-control capability to the disk management tool, Nolan said. The company decided to expand the product further to an integrated suite of tools for Windows NT.

The disk management functions of Instant Pro give the administrator the ability to defragment a disk from a remote location. During the process, it places frequently used files in a place where they can be accessed faster.

Remote control lets help-desk employees view the desktops of any number of Windows NT workstations from a remote location and run applications on those workstations, conduct interactive chat sessions, exchange files and monitor activities.

The security management function lets administrators set policy on the use of applications, in some cases blocking access and in others authorizing it. It also tests for security breaches using a tool designed to detect attempts to crack passwords.

The registry management function helps systems administrators with one of their biggest headaches by giving them the ability to track configurations, said Ray Miller, director of channel sales at Raxco. "In the NT environment, registry management is a big challenge, especially when you've got a lot of users," Miller said. "A lot of enterprises are choosing to ignore it."

Problems have arisen because administrators have either locked down code on the registry or left it open so that anyone can make changes. The registry management features of Instant Pro let administrators view and modify registries on multiple computers at one time and fit in well with outsourcing and asset management, Miller said.

Instant Pro also adds an emergency repair function that creates a way to make a recovery disk with just enough of the operating system on it to reboot a computer after a system crash. The disk can be stored on a network server for easy access. Another feature consolidates the event log entries from multiple computers to provide administrators with a central point for collecting, storing and analyzing information in the events log.

Raxco plans to sell the product largely through resellers, and it will extend its policy of charging the same price for server versions as for workstation versions of the software. A medium-size operation with 10 servers and 250 workstations, for example, would pay $196 for an Instant Pro license.

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