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From MCP TechMentor: .NET Tools Up Close

Simplified password admin and storage resource management tools, plus networked classrooms among offerings being showcased.

(Orlando, Florida) Ever wanted to let your users change their own passwords? Control all your student's desktops from your desk? How about finding out which applications on your network are taking up the most storage space?

Attendees at the MCP TechMentor Conference here got a first-hand look at these and other technologies offered by vendors on the showroom floor.

Of course, software that looks pretty and doesn't help you do your job better is a black hole that sucks your corporate funds into Neverland. That's not the case with Password Station.NET, the newest offering from Avatier (www.avatier.com). "Twenty-five to 30 percent of all help desk calls are for password resets," says Nelson A. Cicchitto, Avatier's chief technology officer.

The theory behind Password Station.NET is that if your users can reset passwords themselves, it frees up your help desk or IT staff for more important duties, and lets your users get back to work more quickly. Password Station.NET, which Cicchitto claims is the "first .NET product for corporate enterprise," uses an HTML interface to walk users through the process of changing or resetting their passwords. It works on Windows NT 4.0 and higher, and IIS 5 and higher.

Password Station.NET is fully .NET-ready, meaning it's XML-based and extensible. The all-important Return On Investment for the product, which starts at $10 per user, "is very, very good," says Cicchitto.

One product that doesn't affect ROI—but helps in other ways—is NetOp School. NetOp School, from CrossTec Corp. (www.netopusa.com), allows teachers to teach computer skills, or any other kind of skills, through networked classrooms. The biggest market for NetOp School, according to CrossTec vice president of marketing Doug Taylor, is K-12.

NetOp School's greatest advantages for a teacher, Taylor says, are that "there are times when they can't get up and walk around," so being able to remotely control and monitor their student's computers can be a big time-saver.

With the proper hardware, up to 200 machines can be controlled from one desktop. It "helps teachers multi-task" as well, Taylor says. A subtle advantage to the give-and-take abilities of NetOp School is that a student can send a private message to a teacher, overcoming the hesitation that student might feel to raise a hand and ask what the student fears is a "stupid question."

NetOp School also offers a "Pass the Chalk" feature, which allows the instructor to hand over control of an ongoing demo to any student for full collaboration on common documents.

Taylor says the cost of NetOp School would be $1,259 for a typical classroom with one teacher and 20 seats.

Precise-WQuinn (www.precise.com; www.wquinn.com) is well known in the industry for StorageCentral SRM, which offers policy-based storage resource and performance management. They've now added a companion product called SiteStor SRM, which discovers and analyzes storage resources on an interval basis and provides a consolidated view of enterprise storage, according to Seven Toole, vice president of marketing.

SiteStor, which was released just two years ago, "builds on the expertise in SRM" and can discover problems and enforce storage policies. "Disk space is cheap, but what's often overlooked is management costs," says Toole, who adds that storage management is "becoming a must-have technology."

Among the goods SiteStor brings to the table are filters for storage usage by business unit, division, user or server; the ability to determine which servers are nearest capacity, and estimates on when storage capacity will be exceeded; and almost 100 pre-configured reports on network storage capacity, growth rate, daily backup volume; and capacity requirements and network storage usage and activity.

Precise-WQuinn is also branching out into the consulting business, offering to analyze your storage environment, including a custom ROI analysis. Are users putting MP3s on your disks? Are some applications hogging more disk space than they should? They'll find out for you, and claim they can save up to 25 percent over your current storage-related costs.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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