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Vendor Briefings - 28 Jun 2005

High Availability Requires More than Just Clustering
When I sat down with representatives from the Neverfail Group to learn about its "cluster-class" product, Neverfail Heartbeat, I was prepared with questions about how it compared with other clustering products. I learned that it takes more than clustering to truly meet the goals of immediate failover and high availability.

Neverfail implements only an active-passive cluster. However, in addition to its Heartbeat technology, the vendor offers Neverfail SCOPE and application-specific modules for Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, file servers, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, and Microsoft IIS. SCOPE helps you configure your OS and applications according to best practices. The application-specific modules automate monitoring for and fixing of common problems prior to failover. This prevention-oriented troubleshooting, then failover, approach addresses the high-availability problem instead of providing only a clustering solution.
-Adam Carheden

IPS Adds Client Agent
Version 3.0 of Sana Security's Primary Response adds to this Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) a client agent that's designed to keep pace with the dynamic nature of mobile and remote clients. The client agent uses Sana's new Active Malware Detection Technology (MDT) to evaluate software that exhibits behaviors such as surviving reboots and logging key presses, which can indicate malicious intent. The client agent also operates at the system kernel level to thwart attacks against the registry, device drivers, and system files. And the client software uses the Sana Adaptive Profiling Technology (SanAPT) also found in the server agent to "learn" to identify new attacks against applications.

Timothy Eades, Sana senior vice president of marketing, told us that Primary Response 3.0 complements antivirus products. He said that Microsoft's release of an antivirus product will "commoditize" signature-based antivirus products but won't affect Primary Response, which offers additional and multiple layers of protection against intruding software. -Renee Munshi

Move Your End Points to the Front of the Line
Agent-based management sometimes gets a bad rap for being a labor-intensive, often inelegant approach to managing machines and applications. But if you have a highly distributed environment, with many different policy sets to enforce and a plethora of patches to push, using a smart-agent solution can make sense.

In a conversation with Gregory Toto, vice president of product management for BigFix, I learned about BigFix Enterprise Suite (BES) 5.0, which streamlines many systems management functions, including patch management, endpoint security, and configuration management. BES is endpoint-centric: By pushing processing to individual machines via client agents, no processing servers are necessary, and machines designated as central servers function only as relaying points, helping to keep network bandwidth needs low and eliminating the necessity for a directory infrastructure. Autonomous agents function independently of network connectivity and enforce the last known set of policies when a machine is offline.

A highly scalable solution (BES 5.0 scales to manage from 100,000 to 125,000 machines) that doesn't need a beefed-up server infrastructure, BES lets you enforce security and configuration policies and distribute patches in real time over a widely distributed environment. For large enterprises with thousands of machines dispersed over a wide geographical area, this smart-agent solution sounds like a smart bet.
-Dianne Russell

TimeSpring Helping to Clarify Data Replication
Data-protection vendors claim numerous capabilities in their products, such as continuous replication and point-in-time recovery. However, customers don't always understand how these features could benefit them, said Agnes Lamont, vice president of marketing and product management for TimeSpring.

Data-protection vendors realize that customers must be able to differentiate their products. That's why TimeSpring joined 13 other vendors in forming the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Continuous Data Protection special interest group. "Many vendors are doing similar things, but their focuses are different. For example, TimeSpring is focused on medium-sized businesses in the Windows environment," Agnes said. The SNIA group's objective, Agnes said, is to educate customers about data-protection products. "We want to define a common set of terms, showcase how continuous data protection differs from traditional methods, and give customers the tools they need to make decisions," she said. To that end, according to Agnes, the group plans to produce deliverables such as a buyer's guide and a continuous data protection tutorial.
-Anne Grubb

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