Product Reviews

Profile Management Made Simple

AutoProf Profile Maker 7 lets you manage Outlook profiles with ease.

Let’s say, you’re an administrator with a scaled-down IT budget and a limited staff. You’re working long hours as it is, and you’ve just been asked to upgrade 400 desktops to Microsoft’s Exchange 2000 mail server with Outlook 2000 as a client. You have finished the server implementation planning and set up your migration path on the server end, but what about the desktops? What do you use to set up the Outlook profiles for 400 machines without having to visit every desktop or rely on users to set it up for you? With AutoProf Profile Maker, it’s simple.

A much better alternative to Microsoft’s Outlook Deployment Kit (ODK), AutoProf Profile Maker is a great tool, hands down. With Profile Maker 7, you can manage many profile elements—including drive mappings, shortcuts, favorites, printers, as well as many other things such as registry settings—from a centralized console.

Don’t confuse this with older versions of Profile Maker, which don’t have the same functionality as version 7. One item of interest is Profile Maker’s ability to automate the configuration of users’ desktop applications, which helps you with huge rollouts and migrations, eliminates desktop support visits, and virtually removes the need to have anyone go to the desktop to configure a user profile or Microsoft Outlook MAPI profile.

Use of the tool is simple, as well. The management console is in the form of a Microsoft Management Console (MMC), and you can create you own MMC and add Profile Maker as a snap-in. The only complaint I have with the setup is that help files are somewhat vague. The Web site, on the other hand, has some pretty good white papers to help you get started, along with some more in-depth information. Basic configurations are simple, but more elaborate configurations may warrant a visit to AutoProf’s online documentation.

While Profile Maker 7 gives the administrator centralized management capabilities, it does so without inconveniencing users with long e-mail outages. Profile Maker 7 keeps migration downtime to a minimum because it allows use of the old mail store while the Profile settings are altered.

Profile Maker 7 also introduces GlobalPolicy (see Figure), which allows the administrator to set configurations based on operating system, as well as for many other configurations (computer name, domain, organizational unit and user name). Also, when configuring Outlook profiles, you can set up paths for PSTs, OSTs and PABs.

Profile Maker 7
Profile Maker 7’s GlobalPolicy allows the administrator to set configurations based on OS.

In sum, Profile Maker is a great product that has evolved considerably from older versions and provides the administrator with a toolset that actually does make your life easier.

About the Author

Robert J. Shimonski, MCSE, MCP+I, CCDP, CCNP, NNCSS, Master CNE, is a lead network and security engineer for a major manufacturing firm and part-time technical instructor. Robert's specialties include network infrastructure design with multiple technologies and developing a host of Web-based solutions for companies securing their markets on the Web. Robert has also contributed hundreds of articles and study guides to Web sites and organizations worldwide, including Cramsession.com. He just finished co-authoring titles on Windows XP Pro and BizTalk Server 2000.

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