One for the Domain Manager

Hands On: Domain Management

Windows 2000 and Active Directory have focused the spotlight on domain management and migration. One of the beneficial side effects of this attention is that users who previously managed complex domains the hard way -- without any tools -- are becoming aware of productivity tools that can help manage existing Windows NT 4.0 domains. There are benefits to be gained by using domain management tools, which is one of the reasons why many vendors have scrambled to get into this hot market.

One company that has been quietly playing in this space is Master Design & Development Inc., which sells Trusted Enterprise Manager, or TEM.

We tested this product in a three-system network that included two IBM Netfinity 5500 servers, each configured with Windows NT Server 4.0 as the primary domain controller of separate NT domains, with a two-way trust relationship established between them. One server had Service Pack 3 (SP3) applied; the other, which also ran Exchange Server Enterprise Edition 5.5, was taken up to SP4. A Hewlett-Packard Kayak system was set up using NT Workstation 4.0 and SP3. The network included 100 user accounts in each domain, with about 10 accounts duplicated across the domains. The workstation was made a member of the domain controlled by the Exchange server, and all users in both domains were given Exchange mailboxes.

Master Design & Development’s TEM provides administrators with good tools for reporting on and managing domains with delegation features, though it does not include specific migration capabilities. As such, it can be a useful adjunct in planning for a Windows 2000 deployment, though it may not play as active a role as some competing products.

That understood, there is a great deal to be said for simplicity. Our testers found TEM an easy product to configure and use. During installation, however, the software required us to enter an activation key, a process that was lengthy and convoluted.

Also, when configuring the product to connect to an Exchange server, the user is required to manually enter the details of the Exchange Organization, site and Recipient Container into a long command string. As these values are very important -- and usually easy to mistype -- we would have much preferred to see an auto-fill of some sort.

Master Design & Development touts the fact that their product introduces no foreign terms to the NT environment. Once we installed the product, we found that to be true and useful. We were able to create new groups and assign rights within a few moments of opening the application. Everything the tools presented was clear and familiar to an NT administrator.

The lack of a migration tool, however, means TEM will be less useful in making large-scale structural changes to an existing, complex network -- particularly when introducing Windows 2000.

If you operate a smaller network, not already fragmented, and want to be able to do the sort of delegation and logical grouping that Windows 2000 will allow, our testers found TEM to be a good answer.

Trusted Enterprise Manager
Master Design & Development Inc.
San Ramon, Calif.
(800) 609-8610
(925) 831-4746
www.mddinc.com

Price: Price information available upon request.

+ Simple to use
+ Uses native NT terminology

- Lacks domain migration tool
- Would benefit from a browse/auto populate feature for dialog boxes when entering Exchange Server information