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Field Report from Microsoft TechEd Orlando

New tools for Exchange, GPO management, and storage among IT-leaning products showcased on TechEd exhibit floor.

Microsoft TechEd each year continues to attract a larger contingent of professionals on the IT side of the wire. Even IT tools vendors seem to outnumber the developer community in representation on the show floor. "I've noticed more ops software at this show," observed Ahmed Datoo, vice president of product marketing at Zenprise http://www.zenprise.com . His company, among several new players in the messaging tools market, used the venue to debut their product for automated diagnosis and resolution system for Exchange servers, aptly named Zenprise. (Listen to an interview with Zenprise CEO Jayaram Bhat on MCP Radio at http://mcpmag.com/webcasts/mcpradio/radio.asp?id=129.)

MCPmag.com was stretched thin out on the carpet, but we did manage to get quality time with the following vendors (in no particular order):

Like Zenprise, Mimosa Systems http://www.mimosasystems.com is a relatively new entry in the Exchange tools niche, but not one to ignore if message integrity is important to your business. Mimosa's NearPoint for Exchange Server unifies Exchange data protection, instantaneous recovery and mailbox extension and archiving. The company has a unique approach to storing messages and preserving archive integrity that allows for historical, point-in-time recovery of messages. One nifty feature: allowing users to recover messages in storage using a "Google-like" search. That the approach naturally meets IT compliance regulations is icing on the cake. The company claims that its use in litigation support has saved some customers a significant amount.

Special Operations Software http://www.specopssoft.com introduced SpecOpsDeploy back in December 2004, but it made its presence known in the U.S. with a showing at TechEd. According to company claims, SpecOpsDeploy can use Group Policy to automate software deployments. It's an interesting concept made even more intriguing by integration of SpecOpsDeploy with Microsoft Operations Manager 2005.

Although you may be more familiar with Northern Park Life's QuotaServer, for more complete storage resource management, check out the company's Storage Suite 2005. Released back in April this year, Storage Suite is comprised of QuotaServer, as well as four other components: Storage Reporter (reports on storage usage, waste, recovery), Storage Portal (provides users with Web view of storage allotments), Storage Chargeback (price assigning for storage usage), and Storage Assistant (tools for optimizing storage performance). http://northern.net

Security vulnerabilities seem to be keeping pace with the growing corporate use of mobile devices and PatchLink Corporation http://www.patchlink.com says it plans to be there to quash any threats at the edge. The company previewed a version of its PatchLink Update security, vulnerability and IT compliance suite for Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry and Palm OS devices; delivery is expected some time in the third quarter of 2005.

TNT Software's flagship ELM Enterprise Manager 4.0 adds a slew of configurable reports that can be used for presenting vital systems statistics in formats that can be distributed to IT managers, security auditors and executive level. Another key improvement is the "at-a-glance" views that can give high-level views of critical data such as alerts, events, outages, and software inventories. Details at http://www.tntsoftware.com.

Infommersion http://www.infommersion.com was demonstrating Xcelsius, a dashboard-style reporting tool that allows admins and developers to provide simplified, executive-level dashboard presentations of critical data. New at the show is Xcelsius XRS, which provides Reporting Services ties to Office, SQL Server, SharePoint, as well as Great Plains, Navision, and other Microsoft Business Solutions software.

ScriptLogic Corporation http://www.scriptlogic.com demonstrated Active Administrator 4.0, the most recent iteration of its Active Directory security and Group Policy management and auditing tool. Some highlights: granular, object-level backup and restore that essentially provides an "undo" function; a collection of what the company calls "self-healing" Active Templates that can alert administrators to user permission reconfiguration problems.

Also noteworthy is Enterprise Security Reporter 2.5, which adds the ability to automate report generation, report filtering based on Active Directory attributes and reports on the account password aging.

Indentify Software http://www.identify.com announced integration of its AppSight application problem resolution system, with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System. The company uses what it calls its "Black Box Application Flight Recorder" technology to capture and help resolve the root cause of application and system problems. The suite is currently being beta tested, with general availability soon.

Agentless or agent-based monitoring tools: Can't decide which works best for you? Heroix Corporation now gives you both options. At the show, the company introduced Heroix Longitude, an agentless monitoring and reporting suite that can track well over 250 systems metrics on all Windows platforms, Novell, several versions of Unix and various flavors of Linux. It comes with 125 prepackaged, dashboard-style reports. Longitude's agent-based complement is Heroix eQ. More info at http://www.heroix.com

DesktopStandard, known for its Policymaker 2.0 GPO add-on, was showcasing GPOvault, a Group Policy Management Console utility for managing GPOs on Active Directory networks. GPOVault integrates several new Group Policy management capabilities, including a comprehensive change control system, into the GPMC. http://www.desktopstandard.com

SAPIEN Technologies http://www.sapien.com has made what it calls the most significant update to PrimalScript in its 4.0 release. Along with significant UI improvements are new features like Dynamic Folder Projects and PrimalToys, which are COM objects for handling common system tasks, which are available in the Standard Edition. The Professional version adds PrimalScope, a Windows Script Debugger, and PrimalDiff, for filed differencing and comparing, a database and FTP explorer, an ADSI script-writing wizard, and code packaging tool. Finally, the Enterprise edition adds a multi-target publishing and distribution mechanism, a visual database query builder, the ability to securely and remotely run scripts and Visual XML editor. The new versions will hit shelves some time in August and September.

Lucid8 http://www.lucid8.com makes significant upgrades to GOexchange, the company's automated management suite for Exchange servers. New in version 3.1 are scanning capabilities, configuration features, scheduling controls and an improved user interface.

VMWare http://www.vmware.com has unveiled a new service for IT pros and software developers: the VMware Technology Network, a virtual infrastructure resource center. Through the VMTN, the company provides customers with pre-built and preconfigured software and applications that run in several pre-built virtual environments, including BEA Systems, MySQL AB, Novell, Oracle and Red Hat. The environments can be maintained on the network via subscription. Now that's virtually irresistible, yes?

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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