Entevo Manages Active Directory Migrations with DirectManage

Now that Windows 2000 is finally here, there will be a few brave enterprises that will begin moving from the planning stages of an NT-to-2000 migration to the implementation phase. To make for a smooth process, most of these organizations will be using the help of a domain migration tool.

In this third installment of a four part series analyzing Windows 2000 migration tools, II ENT II takes a closer look at the Managed Migrations tools and services from Entevo Corp. (www.entevo.com), which is in the process of being acquired by BindView Inc. (www.bindview.com).

Entevo's DirectManage suite includes the tools and services to plan, model, test, migrate, and manage the process of moving to Windows 2000. "One of the first things you need to realize is that implementing Windows 2000 and Active Directory is a process, not an event," says Dale Gardner, director of product marketing at Entevo. "With Windows 2000 there are lots of new technologies, the most far-reaching of which is Active Directory."

The first part of the Entevo directory migration is planning. The DirectManage suite can be installed on the server alone, without the need to install agents across the network. This permits an uninstall of the application without any impact to the rest of the network. Using the DirectAdmin interface, managers can sit at a single console, look at one window, and see the entire NT network and the new Active Directory environment. The solution is based on Microsoft standards, using COM and the Active Directory Service Interface (ADSI).

Gardner says this is a good time to poke through all domains, cleaning out the unused and disabling old accounts. DirectScript Reporter traverses the network and brings back reports on this type of information. The administrator can then access those resources directly from the report. There are up to 15 predefined reports, but administrators can generate others on an ad hoc basis.

The next stage of the migration is modeling the new environment. Gardner says one of the biggest problems here is the learning curve. Administrators used to the old NT domain environment will need to take some time to understand Active Directory trees. This process can also be a source of grief from a political perspective as IT managers determine who is going to manage and have access to what branches of this enterprise tree.

DirectMigrate creates a virtual directory on top of the existing NT environment that can be used to model an Active Directory tree that an administrator can decide to implement. This is a good time to analyze how you will group the organization. Gardner explains with Windows NT, it was easier to group objects geographically, but Active Directory makes it easier to say these people are in engineering and these people are in sales, regardless of where they are geographically located.

Before actual migration begins, Entevo enables a testing phase to perform trials, evaluate results, and make refinements. Here resources are selected from any source and moved to any target, then a trial is run before committing to the migration. The results of the trial runs are edited until they're error free, modifying and correcting settings at the object level to gain maximum flexibility.

The fourth step is the actual migration where Gardner says there are two necessary functions that DirectMigrate provides. One is the ability to monitor the migration process and see what changes were made and why. Second is that DirectMigrate supports system rollback so if things do not go as planned, no damage is done.

The final stage of the Windows 2000 Active Directory migration is the continued operating management. Gardner says it is critical to have one tool, such as DirectAdmin, that can manage both the Windows NT and Windows 2000 environments on one console. Changing a description field or deleting a user will automatically happen in both environments. The DirectManage suite also includes DirectAdmin Web, which is a Web client for remote administration and modeling.

Gardner believes the process of migrating to Windows 2000 is difficult, but worth it. "Windows 2000 and Active Directory are at the opposite end of the spectrum from NT domains," he says. "You go from having almost no control to having almost complete control."

"It's like moving. You have to go into the garage and make informed decisions about what you have and what you're going to do. The actual move is a small development of the overall process. Like a lot of things, if you do your homework up front you'll be a lot more successful than just moving things around."