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What's Hot - 28 Dec 2004

Synchronize Files, Timestamps, Permissions, and Groups Across Domains
We've told you about Secure Copy before ( see "Lighten Your Daily Administrative Load," February 2004, InstantDoc 41394), but readers keep writing us about it, so this product, which ScriptLogic now owns, is obviously still hot. Secure Copy backs up directory structures between two network locations. In addition to copying files and folders, the software offers a variety of options for synchronizing permissions, dates, file shares, and even Windows NT 4.0 and Active Directory (AD) groups. Reader D. O. writes, "A problem driving us nuts was keeping the staging server synchronized with the live machine it was replacing. With Secure Copy, we could run a differential restore each night. When we were ready to go live with the new server, we just hit the new machine with another differential copy before rolling it out. The final copy took only a few minutes."

Secure Copy can delete target files that you've removed from the source, retain the source file's Last Accessed Date and Created Date, use NTFS compression on the target, synchronize file shares, and replicate Local Groups and Users to either the target server, AD, or an NT domain. Alexander Van Gemst of Kloosterzande, Netherlands, says, "This tool came in very handy when we had to do data migration from an NT 4.0 BDC into our mixed mode Windows 2000 domain. We use the standard Microsoft way to set file system permissions: Assign Domain Local groups permissions to the file system, then add Global Groups containing user accounts to the Domain Local groups. We wanted to migrate the file shares to a Win2K member server, but we couldn't use Microsoft's Scopy because the Local Groups on the BDC didn't exist on the new member server, as we were still in mixed mode. Secure Copy enabled us to migrate the data, groups, and shares, including all permissions, to the member server. The tool also offered a real synchronization method, deleting files from the destination server as they were deleted from the source server."

Secure Copy also filters files by folder name, file extension, date modified, size, and recursive folder depth. ScriptLogic offers a free 30-day evaluation version of Secure Copy. Pricing starts at $699 for a single-server license, including a 1-year maintenance agreement. Volume discounts are available.

Product Secure Copy
Company ScriptLogic

Outstanding Desktop Management Product

Graham Phoenix of Manchester, UK, wrote with enthusiasm to tell us about BMC Software's Marimba. "Simply outstanding desktop management product," he says, "better in every way than Microsoft Systems Management Server or LANDesk. It actually works!" Marimba is a software deployment and management suite that lets administrators package applications, software, and patches; target them to users, groups, and machines; efficiently distribute them to servers and workstations; and monitor compliance with software installation policies. Marimba integrates with existing directories, including Active Directory (AD), Novell Directory Services (NDS), and other Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)—compliant directories; Windows NT 4.0 domains; or a relational database management system (RDBMS). The product can manage software on most versions of Windows, Linux, Sun Microsystems' Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX. Marimba uses Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle as its back-end database.

Marimba can deploy Windows Installer packages (.msi files) or allow the user to manage files, registry entries, services, and the Microsoft IIS metabase. The software also supports automatic package creation from a machine snapshot taken before and after software installation. Marimba packages use "versionless updates" that allow a single package to deploy a target software version to clients with any earlier version of the software. Packages support software installation, upgrading, repair, and rollback. Deploying a package is as simple as targeting it to any level of your LDAP directory.

Marimba securely deploys software through HTTP Secure (HTTPS) and integrates with your existing public key infrastructure (PKI). LAN and WAN users can access software on a Marimba master server. Marimba also supports mirror, repeater, and proxy servers to support scalability and remote sites. Marimba minimizes bandwidth usage through compression, byte-level differential updates, checkpoint restarts, administrator-configured maximum bandwidth percentage, and bandwidth throttling when the connection is inactive. This functionality lets Marimba support VPN, dial-up, and Internet connections.

Administrators can access Marimba through either a Web-based or command-line UI. Marimba also supports XML and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) interfaces to integrate with existing applications and includes built-in support for Remedy Asset Management. Contact BMC Software for pricing.

Product Marimba
Company BMC Software

Have You Migrated to Exchange 2003 Yet?
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 offer a host of new features and improvements. Reader P. B. wrote to tell us that even in Exchange mixed mode, "some of the great stuff we have found has really assisted us." For example, Outlook 2003 supports a feature called Cached Exchange Mode that pushes data to the server in the background and allows a user to work exclusively with local copies of messages and attachments. P. B. writes that as a result, "We found better responses for the clients." Most remote Outlook users are probably familiar with the menu options for downloading headers, but Outlook 2003 can automatically synchronize only message headers on connections slower than 128Kbps to save your users trouble and save you the necessity of providing training.

Microsoft has also made improvements to Outlook Web Access (OWA) with Exchange 2003. P. B. reports that he has experienced lower bandwidth requirements with OWA and Exchange 2003 and that the new look and feel is an improvement. "Exchange 2003 OWA also fills in gaps from Exchange Server 5.5 OWA, like spell-checker," P. B. says. Exchange 2003 introduced new OWA security features as well. Users can encrypt and digitally sign messages using Secure MIME (S/MIME) by installing a local digital certificate. Administrators can also turn on forms-based authentication that uses a Web form over HTTP Secure (HTTPS) and cookies instead of basic HTTP authentication. This functionality prevents the user's browser from caching credentials and makes session timeouts effective.

Microsoft also introduced Outlook Mobile Access (OMA) to allow users to receive email on handheld devices. OMA replaces Microsoft Mobile Information Server (MIS), which has been discontinued. P. B. has been using MIS since 2002, but says, "We found Exchange 2003 mobility a lot easier to set up than MIS."

Exchange 2003 is further improved when you run it on Windows Server 2003. "The Windows 2003 platform provides us with Volume Shadow Copy Service functionality that will assist us in snapshot databases for quicker backup and recovery," writes P. B. Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is a Windows 2003 feature that lets third-party applications access live copies of data in Exchange and other programs that keep write locks on their data stores. To back up Exchange, third-party applications must also be VSS-aware and meet Microsoft-defined behavioral requirements. For more information, see the Microsoft article "Exchange Server 2003 data backup and Volume Shadow Copy services" (

If you're simply not up to the task of deploying a new version of Exchange, P. B. has some advice about that, too. "The Exdeploy utility that comes with Exchange 2003 assisted us in preparing our environment for the deployment of Active Directory Connector." ADC lets you migrate Exchange 5.5 mailboxes and NT 4.0 users to AD.

Product Microsoft Exchange Server 2003
Company Microsoft

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about it, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected].

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