Entevo unveils tools for directory migration

Start-up company Entevo Corp. last week unveiled additions to its product suite designed to help users migrate to Microsoft Corp.'s Active Directory product and simplify cross-platform directory management.

Entevo's DirectManage product suite is aimed at easing the shift toward directory-centric computing, according to the company. A directory service is a database of information about the resources on a network, such as e-mail addresses or attached equipment.

The new announcements include support for Microsoft's Active Directory product, which will ship with Windows 2000 by the end of this year, and additional security and scalability features.

"DirectManage is the first Active Directory-ready, cross-platform management solution," said Dale Gardner, senior product manager at Entevo. "Organizations have a lot of different directories they need to manage. Cross-platform is important, but Active Directory [support] is important as well." The product also supports Windows NT, Microsoft Exchange and Novell Inc.'s Novell Directory Services (NDS).

DirectManage supports the same interface that will ship with Active Directory and enables network administrators to convert flat Windows NT domains to an Active Directory hierarchical structure. Windows NT today does not have a directory structure, Gardner said.

"When users implement Active Directory, DirectManage will help them transition," Gardner said. "Because it is compatible with Active Directory and uses Active Directory Service Interfaces, everything we do will continue to work with no problems once an organization does implement Active Directory."

Entevo specifically is targeting organizations that use Windows NT, that plan to transition from Windows NT to Windows 2000 and that have mixed networks and applications.

The government is one of the company's target markets, said Linda Ciabatoni, vice president of marketing at Entevo. "The government is one of the fastest adopters of Windows NT," she said. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is piloting the product to help migrate to Windows NT, and other agencies, such as the Agriculture Department, are evaluating the product, Ciabatoni said.

The Social Security Administration is currently a beta site for DirectManage, which the agency is using to help automate the process of consolidating multiple Windows NT domains, said Ron Cooper, computing specialist at SSA.

Cooper said he likes the product because it is the only one available that prepares users for Windows 2000 and Active Directory. "I see this product helping companies design their directory structure prior to implementing Windows 2000," he said.

The product is useful because it "will help people transition as the directory service changes," said Dan Kusnetzky, program director for operating environments and serverware at International Data Corp. "As soon as users are able to move to Windows 2000, they will already have the expertise to use that new environment. The Entevo product makes the transition more comfortable and less daunting."

In addition, having the benefit of managing different directories from one workstation should reduce the cost of ownership considerably, Kusnetzky said. "It could be a big win for companies that use it," Kusnetzky added.

Although DirectManage offers these benefits, "it's not clear whether Active Directory will be a huge success because it is Windows NT-only. Medium and large companies have said they will wait a year to two years to adopt it. People have Unix [and] NetWare...so a multiplatform environment is much more likely," he said.

The DirectManage suite includes DirectAdmin, which is used to administer large Windows NT systems; the DirectAdmin NDS Plus Pack, which is used to administer Windows NT and NDS from the same console; and DirectMigrate for NDS, which is used to migrate NDS resources to Windows NT domains. The products are available on the General Services Administration schedule.

DirectAdmin supports up to 40,000 users in a single domain; unlimited users in multiple domains; remote World Wide Web-based administration; Microsoft Exchange administration; and the ability to divide network authority into roles, depending on what job a user performs - for example, help-desk support.

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