Product Reviews

What's in Your Active Directory?

Aelita's Enterprise Directory Reporter collects and organizes AD information.

If you're using Active Directory on your network, you know that there's almost too much information stored there. Even a moderately sized network can have thousands of AD entries to keep track of. Whether it's determining what applications are installed on the workstations or determining what group policies apply to a particular user there are thousands of little details that are useful—if you can find them.

Aelita's Enterprise Directory Reporter tackles the challenge that all of this information presents in two steps. First, it allows you to collect the information from the Active Directory and other information about the network into a SQL Server database. Second, the information can be extracted from the database through Aelita's Reporting Console.

Aelita's Data Collection Manager module manages the information that is collected from the network. You create, through a wizard process, a collection that specifies what data you want to capture. This can include active directory information, a hardware and software inventory for servers, workstations, or both, and even information about Microsoft Exchange servers. Once you have the collection defined you can run it immediately and set a schedule for subsequent data collections.

Depending upon the size of your network and the level of detail that you asked for Enterprise Directory Reporter to log, it may take a significant amount of time to complete the collection process. In some cases this can be several hours, particularly if you asked for file-by-file logging. Once the logging process is complete you can start the Reporting Console to see what gems of information you can find.

I had problems with the Reporting Console component. The reason turned out to be that the Reporting Console, which must already be installed separately from the Enterprise Directory Reporter, does not include the database of reports for reporting on Enterprise Directory Reporter. After running the installation for the reports database I was able to load the database into Reporting Console and finally see the data that I had captured. Additionally, the first time that you run a report in the Reporting console, it takes an excessively long time for the report to be generated—to the point that you wonder if the program has locked up. After the first report has been run, the reports times settle down to something more reasonable.

Although the product does a great job of collecting information from network sources and storing it into the SQL server database the interface is a little quirky, requiring that you anticipate how the program wants you to interact with it. This frequently means many missteps before figuring out the correct path. Normally, I'd blame this on not reading the manual, but the manual for the data collection process is 11 pages—and I read it. Although it helped, it also left several unanswered questions.

Aelita Enterprise Directory Reporter
Aelita offers flexible reporting options for making sense of large amounts of network information. (Click image to view larger version.)

If you need a way to collect and report on information from your enterprise and report on it, then Enterprise Directory Reporter may be the right product for you. Be forewarned, however, that you'll likely have to explore for a while before you get the product working the way you want it to.

About the Author

Robert Bogue, MCSE, has contributed to more than 100 book projects and numerous other publishing projects. Robert is a technical consultant for Crowe Chizek in Indianapolis. His latest book is Mobilize Yourself! The Microsoft Guide to Mobile Technology (is available wherever books are sold. He is also a frequent contributor to CertCities.com.

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