TransportIT secures data transfers

If you feel that moving large data files over your agency's complex networks is like shoving an elephant through a pipe, or you know that you'd sleep better at night if you had more control over the security of your data transfers, then TransportIT may cure some of your headaches.

TransportIT is designed to tackle nearly every problem associated with moving files over multiprotocol networks. Working unattended, TransportIT can encrypt, scan for viruses and compress data as needed, then guarantee its delivery where and when you want it. The software requires little knowledge to get started because many operations are ready to run straight out of the box. But the more you learn, the more you can make use of it.

Getting to the point of using the software can be a trial, though.

If your usual method of installing new software is loading it gung-ho without reading the manual first, do not try that here. TransportIT runs on top of either Computer Associates International Inc.'s Unicenter TNG or a subset of this product named Framework. Both provide a set of standard services on top of which other company products can run. Fortunately, a free copy of Framework is included on the CD-ROM.

We tried to load Framework cold on our Microsoft Corp. Windows NT 4.0 workstation, but even the install wizard could not solve all our problems. We called for help from a company representative, who proved to be a real wizard with TransportIT. He quickly undid our improper installation and spotted our major problem, which the software wizard had failed to detect—we did not have SNMP running on our workstation. That, by the way, was a requirement the manual failed to mention. After installing SNMP, we had no trouble installing the TransportIT Manager on our workstation and TransportIT agents on a Windows NT 4.0 server and on a Novell Inc. NetWare file server.

The total time to install all the software on our management workstation and on two nodes was about three hours. Our advice: If you don't already have Unicenter TNG installed, then get expert help for the installation, or better yet, attend Computer Associates' certification training.

Learning to use TransportIT required much less effort than installing it. First we had to run an auto discovery on our network so that Unicenter TNG could see what was there. To make sure we did not clog our large network with discovery traffic, I limited this process to just the subnets we wanted to test on. Then we launched the TransportIT manager and stepped through an example using the printed Getting Started manual. We transferred a file from one computer to another and, thankfully, it worked the first time.

Within minutes we were creating complex file transfer jobs and either running them manually or setting up schedules to run them at different times. TransportIT comes with about 50 built-in routines available to be run before or after the transfer, and you can add your own routines. You can choose from a variety of encryption routines, but we chose the antivirus and watched as it scanned the files before sending them. TransportIT does not have a feature for automatic updates via the Internet, but you can get regular updates of the virus identification files from the Computer Associates World Wide Web site.

As a test, we executed the Windows NT clock as a post-transfer routine and watched the clock pop up on a Windows NT server after some files were transferred to it. We were grateful for TransportIT's built-in password security, as the manager could just as easily run a format as start a clock on a remote node.

The TransportIT Manager has a familiar Explorer-like graphical user interface (GUI). The interfaces for using Unicenter TNG and TransportIT are heavily object-oriented, but you quickly get used to everything being considered an object.

We tested one feature of TransportIT by accident when we filled up a remote hard drive before a very large file had finished transmitting. After we deleted some other files on the drive to make space, TransportIT noticed the problem was fixed and automatically restarted the transfer from a checkpoint without resending any data it had already transferred.

Curious to see what the auto discovery had found, we began to delve into Unicenter TNG's Network Administration. Using a network design feature, we chose one of the included geographic maps and populated it with symbols showing our nodes in different cities and the links between them. Switching into Run mode, we found we had unexpected powers over data transfers. By setting a Throttle Factor along with Maximum Parcel Size, we could optimize transport speed over a given link or slow it down to avoid taking too much bandwidth.

While TransportIT normally insulates the user from concerns about matters such as protocol, topology and hops, here we had the ability to choose our protocol and designate routes using broadcast and multicast. A handy feature called Fanout allowed us to craft a transfer job channeling files over a single T-1 line to a PC in a distant city, where it fanned out over shorter routes to computers in nearby areas. TransportIT is push-pull, so it can be configured for users to send data to collection points as well as receive data.We developed several ideas for using the product, including replicating computers and updating dispersed Web sites simultaneously.

Skill and imagination are the only limits to getting the most out of TransportIT.

For those truly greedy for features, Symantec Corp. offers Data Transport Option as an alternative to TransportIT. The GUI used with DTO is identical to that of TransportIT, but the customer has more options for scheduling and monitoring the health of the network. But DTO requires the full version of Unicenter TNG.

As good as TransportIT is with delivering files, it cannot do complete installations of new executable software on remote PCs. For that task, Computer Associates provides a separate product, ShipIT.While it is easier to install TransportIT on a system already running Unicenter TNG, TransportIT is not just for current Unicenter TNG customers.

The powerful data transport features make a tricky installation worthwhile. Reasonable price, data security and guaranteed data delivery make TransportIT a winner.

-- Greer is a senior network analyst at a large Texas state agency. He can be reached at Earl.Greer@dhs.state.tx.us.

***TransportIT Enterprise Edition 1.0—B+Computer Associates International Inc.(516) 342-5224www.cai.com

Price and AvailabilityAvailable on the open market for $1,200 for the server and $110 for each desktop client. For more information, call (800) 225-5224.Remarks

TransportIT solves nearly every problem involved with moving files over multiprotocol networks with varied operating systems. Automation is the key to make best use of bandwidth, keep the data secure and guarantee delivery. Only the skill and imagination of the administrator limit the usefulness of TransportIT. Platforms: Windows 95/98, Windows NT Server or Workstation, NetWare, AS/400, VMS, Unix, OS/390, and OS/2.

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