Product Reviews

One Sweet Information Suite

This Ecora suite documents like a dream.

Ecora Enterprise Auditor Suite is one of the most useful products I’ve ever run across. If you take this to mean that I liked it, the answer is yes.

As fortune would have it, the Ecora review assignment came right when I had to document a client’s entire cross-platform environment consisting of Windows, Novell, Unix servers and clients, SQL Server and Oracle databases, and Exchange servers. Active Directory wasn’t yet implemented, but I tested that at another location. The information the Auditor Suite provides is invaluable, and will allow us to plan this client’s IT strategy well.

Enterprise Auditor Suite includes a centralized management and reporting console, along with a set of modules that work within the console to provide reporting, change management, and alerting of different network components. They include Active Directory, Windows servers and workstations, Exchange, Lotus Notes, IIS, Citrix, Oracle, Cisco gear, and others. The product requires no agents on target computers to perform its work, though it does need a fair bit of hardware and software on the computer that’s used to run the suite.

Ecora Configuration Auditor Suite
Ecora Configuration Auditor Suite’s reports offer detailed information and can be viewed with any Java-enabled browser.

Installing the suite is easy enough, and files can be downloaded from Ecora’s Web site or pulled from a CD. The installation prompts for license keys for each of the modules the customer intends to use. If you don’t register the modules at install time, that can be done from within the Enterprise Auditor Administrative Desktop, which is the management console. The Internet-based product key retrieval is handy for those of us challenged by larger fingers and smaller keyboards.

Running the suite is quite simple, though it can be time consuming depending on the environment monitored. The reports produced (Documentation, Change Management, and the vast collection of others available) offer a very complete picture of what’s on the network, with all warts exposed.

If you forget to read the documentation (like I did), remember that to properly document Exchange, SQL Server and other application components, the requisite client software must usually be installed on the monitoring PC. This bit me when trying to document an Exchange 5.5 organization without having the Exchange 5.5 Administrator program installed. And, in order for Ecora to produce Visio diagrams, Visio 5.0c or later must be installed. (I used Visio 2002 Professional.)

Reports can be viewed with a Web browser or Word. The suite produces both HTML and Word .doc reports, although the HTML reports use Java and can’t be properly viewed in Internet Explorer in Windows Server 2003. The HTML reports can be copied intact (including all sub-folders) to a Web site and then viewed across the network or the Internet. This makes it easy to share the information gathered with the entire team or IT department; there’s probably way too much detail for management.

Enterprise Auditor isn’t just a passive reporting tool. Its e-mail-based alerts work quite well and can monitor changes in the environment. Scans of your systems and applications can be scheduled so the reports are generated in the middle of the night (those two hours when you’re not busy), and older reports can be automatically archived.

Although other programs do similar things, and I had a couple on hand for comparison, Ecora’s offering manages to provide just the right info in an easily-understood format and in a reasonable timeframe. My only problem is I can’t work without it and will have to go out and actually buy it!

About the Author

Damir Bersinic, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT, is an independent consultant, trainer and author.

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