Vinca unveils DOS/NetWare net utility

Known traditionally for its data protection products, Vinca Corp. entered a different market recently with the introduction of a local-area network tool that improves LAN file administration and increases server availability.

The product, called File Commander, allows network administrators to access files on both DOS and Novell Inc. NetWare servers from a single console.

Vinca is best known for its Standby Server, which increases the availability of data, applications or network services by clustering two or more services. In the event that one server fails, another will pick up its workload.

File Commander is the first in a series of products Vinca will release within the next year that are focused on data availability and management in a LAN. "We see a real market for the tools we've developed in the $100 to $200 range," said Dave Jenkins, product manager for NetWare products at Orem, Utah-based Vinca.

"I've used File Commander to upgrade servers, edit files on the DOS partition on all servers and to copy and delete files on DOS and NetWare servers," said Mike Hussey, LAN administrator for the Utah governor's office in Salt Lake City.

Administrators can clean up after applying software patches without taking the server down, Hussey said. They also can delete directories and subdirectories with the product, which is not possible with some other NetWare utilities, he said.

File Commander also can search directories to find NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs) and all their dependencies that need to be loaded. This function can save network administration time and can be done while the server is online. Vinca said this functionality can abet the remote administration process as it archives critical files from multiple servers to one server.

However, the syntax used when copying from a local to a remote machine involves a learning curve. "It takes getting used to the syntax of the commands, but the Help [segment] is good," Hussey said.

Users can simply type in the name of the command in question, and the Help segment will bring up a screen on how to use the command. Help descriptions are thorough and clear, he said.

Vinca said it is necessary for the syntax to be different when distinguishing between local and remote machines. "You have to designate the source and destination between machines. You can use this with up to 20 servers but only two at a time," said Ken Ebert, Vinca's senior software engineer.

Administrators can use File Commander to copy all files from the C drive to a NetWare volume, where the files can be backed up with the other NetWare files. If a server fails, then this backup is used to restore the entire network, including boot files that ordinarily would not be on backup media.

Vinca likely wants to catch the NetWare wave while it can. "The biggest problems with Vinca [are] the NetWare market, which is shrinking, and second, in the NT market it is competing against Microsoft Cluster Server on a Microsoft platform," said Joe Barkan, research director for servers at Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn.

However, the company has two strong points working in its favor, observers said. The company has a firm relationship with Novell, which resells Vinca's StandbyServer as a Novell product.

Vinca also has a good relationship with IBM Corp., which resells Vinca's data mirroring product under IBM's Netfinity Cluster Pack, Barkan said.

File Commander is only available on the Vinca World Wide Web site at www.vinca.com. The product has an introductory price of $149.

An unlimited site license is $1,499, and an unlimited site, unlimited location license is $3,750.

-- Gerber is a free-lance writer based in Kingston, N.Y.

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