Whistler Expands Native Network Management
AlthoughMicrosoft is billing Whistler as a development for the desktop, there are hintsthat Redmond is still focused on becoming the dot in .NET. Whistler willcontain several new native tools to empower network administrators.
ExpandedActive Directory Features
ActiveDirectory was the most groundbreaking feature of Windows 2000, but Microsoftrealizes there is room for improvement. Whistler will bring a few tweaks andfunctions to the table.
Microsoftadded drag and drop functionality to Whistler’s Active Directory, a featuremissing from Windows 2000. Administrators can move users from Operational Units(OUs) by dragging and dropping from one folder to the next. Microsoft says administrators complained of having to rightclick to move users from one OU to the next.
Microsoftwill also add advanced pruning and grafting features for Active Directorytopologies. The business world is fluid, and mergers and acquisitions can throwan organizational structure into flux. Microsoft hopes its pruning and graftingfeatures will enable administrators to better model the business world inActive Directory.
Ifa company buys another business and needs to merge two sales departments, forexample, administrators will be able to take one sales OU and “graft” it ontothe second OU, seamlessly adding users to reflect the new organization. InWindows 2000, administrators frequently have to create new AD profiles for eachuser to accomplish the same task.
Conversely,administrators will be able to “prune” users from an OU to reflectorganizational change. If one department is folded for some reason, it can bepruned from the organization structure.
Microsoftalso will add the ability to query Active Directory. Administrators will be able to search forusers based on any number of criteria. For example, administrators can search fordead accounts using the querying tool to eliminate unused accounts and keep theenterprise’s security up to snuff. In addition, administrators who findthemselves repeating the same queries regularly can save queries and eliminatethe trouble of re-entering them later or can set up stock queries forassistants to perform.
Remoteand Headless Administration
It is a matter of faith that Windows machinesare used in networked environments, and Microsoft will introduce features thatreflect the connected world of Whistler.
Microsoftwill add Remote Administration mode to all version of Whistler, including thedesktop version Professional. Whistler will expand the remote administrationabilities of Windows by extending Remote Access Services to the desktopversion. For example, administrators can update drivers or other software froma central console, sparing the grunt work of moving from desktop to desktop.
Even theconsumer version of Whistler will contain Remote Administration features,allowing home users to open their machines to trusted friends for technicalhelp and file sharing.
Microsoftis also introducing “Headless” features into Whistler. Server machines nolonger need video cards and input devices for proper operation. Instead,administrators will be able to manage servers through terminal services,installing software and configuring applications from a central console.Headless administration spares the cost of video cards and keyboard video mouseswitches, as well as simplifies the physical management of server boxes.
Headlessadministration will also permit emergency management. Users will be able toconnect to terminal services via a machine’s serial port, as well as anEthernet adapter. If a machine experiences a hard shutdown, the serial port maybe the only way for administrators to gain access and reboot the machine.
The DomainControllers in Windows 2000 are fairly Byzantine, and are particularlydifficult for administrators responsible for a number of branch offices.Microsoft is changing the way Domain Controllers operate for greatermanageability.
Microsoftis removing the necessity for a Global Catalog in branch offices. With Windows2000, users at branch offices have to either authenticate with a server possiblythousands of miles away -- which slows down productivity -- or haveadministrators take on the task of setting up and constantly replicating GlobalCatalog servers at each branch office. With Whistler, local authentication willbe done without a Global Catalog.
Enterpriseswith branch offices may also take advantage of the new inter-site topologygenerator, which will allow administrators to analyze the topology betweenbranch offices. If OUs are spread across offices, the tool can also shed lighton how they interact.
Whistleralso will add the ability to backup a domain controller to tape. In the case ofa failure, an administrator will be able to easily recreate the domaincontroller on another or the same machine by installing the operating systemsfrom tape.
Microsoftis adding expanded, network-centric performance monitoring tools to Whistler tohelp administrators maximize the potential of their networks.
PerformanceMonitor (PerfMon) gains the ability to view multiple performance objects. Userswill be able to use the tool to correlate behavior between two performancerubrics or compare the performance of different machines.
PerfMon isalso capable of performing trending and analysis functions on performance data collectedon the network. Users will be able to use the tool to determine what caused amachine or network to die.
Finally,Microsoft drilled down deeper into the low-level components of machines withPerfMon, adding Disk I/O, Pool Allocations, Heap Allocations, and other itemsthat can be viewed in PerfMon.
WindowsManagement Instrumentation (WMI) will receive a few changes in Whistler, aswell. The central information portal will be HTTP- and XML-enabled, allowingadministrators to access information and change settings on the network via aWeb browser.
Microsoftadded a few new classes of information to WMI, too. Administrators will be ableto configure and control account information, disk drives, performance counters,job objects, plug and play events, quotas, and session status all through theWMI.
Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., www.microsoft.com