Manage Alerts Within SharePoint
When brainstorming new ideas, our closest resources are usually our best. Just ask Jeff Cate, founder and president of SharePoint Solutions (http://www.sharepointsolutions.com). SharePoint Solutions provides training, consulting, and software for Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies. "We take students' feedback and use this information to create new SharePoint add-ons," Jeff told me.

According to Jeff, one of the most requested features for a SharePoint add-on is easy alert management in Windows SharePoint Services. SharePoint Solutions addressed this need in WSS Alert Manager, a SharePoint add-on that lets you subscribe other SharePoint users to alerts on any list, document library, or document. You can also add, change, or delete alerts for one or more users. Alert Manager's search functionality lets you locate users by preferred name or email address and supports partial words, wildcards, and pattern matching.
—Blake Eno

End-to-End Security: Bringing It All Together
Corporate networks face increasing threats from viruses, malware, intrusion attempts, phishing attacks, and the like. Enterprises have responded to these escalating threats by investing in a wide array of specialized security solutions, which often results in a patchwork of security-point solutions that make managing security across the network difficult and expensive. Check Point Software Technologies' (http://www.checkpoint.com) unified security-management solution, SmartCenter, now lets you manage Check Point's endpoint security solution, Integrity, along with your company's perimeter, internal, and Web security solutions, from a single console. This integrated management of all security layers lowers IT costs by eliminating the need for separate management consoles, servers, and reports. Such management also gives greater insight into an organization's overall security picture and ensures consistent security policies across the entire distributed network. This unification of endpoint and network security lets enterprises audit end-to-end security effectiveness.
—Gayle Rodcay

Replicate VMs Outside the Guest
Vizioncore (http://www.vizioncore.com), which produces backup, performance monitoring, and disaster recovery software applications for VMware ESX Server, recently introduced the first version of esxReplicator, virtual machine (VM) replication software. According to vizioncore's Azeem Mohamed, esxReplicator is a unique solution that can have positive implications for business continuity. esxReplicator replicates VMs that run on ESX Server and does so outside the guest OS. Because it works outside the guest, esxReplicator copies stored data, configuration settings, patches to the OS, and other OS-level changes—letting you create and replicate a full copy of a VM, rather than only the data it contains. You can replicate between dissimilar hardware or from multiple ESX Server machines and selectively replicate individual VMs, rather than an entire volume. Further enhancing the solution is that you don't need to maintain an open instance of the VM on the target ESX Server—the replicated VM launches as an original image, so it doesn't require additional licensing. vizioncore's solution is one among a growing body of products that provide better ways to safeguard mission-critical applications without the headaches and higher cost of hardware-level replication.
—Dianne Russell

Stratacache Brings Multicast to SMS
At the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in San Diego in April, I had a chance to see and hear about several products that will integrate with Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS). Steve Bannister, vice president of engineering for Stratacache (http://www.stratacache.com), described how his company’s OmniCast for SMS improves on SMS’s distribution capabilities for WANs. Rather than using the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) or other TCP protocol to establish a session with each remote node, OmniCast for SMS uses Stratacache’s MFTP protocol (which adds reliability and manageability features to the UDP Multicast protocol) to simultaneously deliver files to all remote nodes. OmniCast is intended for very large companies with hundreds or thousands of remote sites. For example, the world’s largest retailer uses OmniCast to distribute 1GB video ads that run on its stores’ public monitors. The SMS version of OmniCast is integrated into the SMS console and is easily run from that interface. Steve noted that enterprises looking ahead to deploying Windows Vista (a 3GB to 5GB package) are expressing a lot of interest in OmniCast for SMS for that purpose.
—Renee Munshi