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Quest Rolls Out Active Directory Tools

Quest Software issued new versions of its Active Directory tools this week, further driving the sophistication and granularity of the control that packaged tools give administrators over Microsoft's youthful directory services offering.

Quest brought out updates of two products, FastLane ActiveRoles 4.1 and Spotlight on Active Directory 3.0. ActiveRoles is a directory-enabled Active Directory management and security solution. Spotlight is a real-time performance and availability diagnostics system.

The latest version of ActiveRoles provides Help Desk provisioning, Group Policy what-if scenarios and support for more than 100 new Group Policy settings in Windows XP.

"We really focus on reducing the manual effort that it takes to manage AD and Group Policy. We help you lock down your environment," says Keith Millar, director of product management for Microsoft solutions at Quest.

The Help Desk provisioning tool allows administrators to create dedicated, focused views of the Active Directory specific to the roles the Help Desk professionals have been assigned. In one example, if a Help Desk professional can only reset a password in the New York Organizational Unit (OU), then that person only sees that OU and only gets the password reset option on the display.

Quest’s revisions of its Group Policy management features in this version allow administrators to simulate and analyze changes in a graphical interface prior to making any changes. “We show you very graphically, if you [make a change to a Group Policy], these will be the settings that you gain, these will be the settings that you lose,” Millar says.

The Spotlight refresh brings a key element to the product for diagnosing problems with the Active Directory. Previous versions monitored the Domain Controllers. Version 3 adds a topology viewer that auto discovers the Active Directory structure and graphically shows all Domain Controllers.

“What we did prior to this version was really just focus on the Domain Controller itself,” Millar explains. “A lot of customers came back and said that’s good, but that’s 50 percent of the question. The other 50 percent is my entire AD topology – replication links, sites, and also just give me a way of just seeing if there are any problems.”

Active Roles costs $20 per managed user. Spotlight on Active Directory starts at $1,495 per domain controller. Both products are available immediately.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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