Product Reviews

A Few of My Favorite Things: NetPro DirectoryAnalyzer

Compaq knows a thing or two about troubleshooting large networks. Here are some of the utilities and programs it uses most and likes best for Windows 2000.

NetPro’s DirectoryAnalyzer is an essential component of the AD administrator’s toolkit. One of its best features is its enterprise-level view of the environment. Traditionally, native NT management tools—and, to a lesser degree, Win2K tools—have focused on narrow aspects of administration and haven’t performed well tying together enterprise management information. DirectoryAnalyzer takes a high-level approach to monitoring AD, allowing the administrator to troubleshoot problems generally beyond the scope of a single system. For example, DirectoryAnalyzer includes several troubleshooting tools to test connectivity between sites or DCs, which can’t be done easily with native tools. DirectoryAnalyzer can also check for attribute consistency between DCs.

The figure shows the troubleshooting tool that tests connectivity between DCs.

DirectoryAnalyzer
This alert screen tells you if your DCs are talking to each other. (Click image to view larger version.)

DirectoryAnalyzer monitors important AD services like replication, DNS and the various Operations Master functions. It also maintains consistency between DCs, Global Catalogs, domains and sites.

DirectoryAnalyzer continually monitors DCs, polling them regularly for current status and configuration details.

Most operations take place using simple configuration panes for domain, naming context and site alerts. Indicators in the dialog boxes tell you what the default setting for each alert is and whether or not the alert is currently engaged.

The DirectoryAnalyzer interface is built on the same framework as FrontPage or Outlook 2000, with the button bar along the left side and a detail pane that occupies most of the right side of the application. On the downside, the current implementation doesn’t follow the standard MMC framework used for the native Windows administration tools, and there’s no right-click functionality. Building the tool on the MMC framework and including context menus for right-click actions would both improve and standardize the tool.

Despite those drawbacks, DirectoryAnalyzer is still a vital tool and should be included in every enterprise that plans to manage a distributed Win2K environment effectively.

About the Author

Jeff A. Dunkelberger, MCSE, MCT, is a senior consultant from Compaq’s Professional Services’ Windows and Messaging Platforms Practice.

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