This network and resource reporting tool now works with Windows NT

Many of you are familiar with BindView EMS/NOSadmin from your NetWare days (or you currently work in a mixed shop). You know that BindView EMS is a network reporting tool. But what you might not know is that BindView now works with Windows NT and NetWare 3.x and 4.x.

Because many reviews have covered how BindView works as a network and resource reporting tool in a NetWare environment, I won't go into that area here. Instead, I'll focus on how BindView works with NT. BindView EMS uses snap-in management modules to collect data from all areas of the enterprise. When you plug in a single module for a single NOS (e.g., NT), the module works as a comprehensive management and security tool for a homogeneous network. When you integrate multiple modules to manage multiple NOSs (e.g., NetWare 3.x, NetWare 4.x, and NT), BindView EMS lets the modules access information from NetWare or NT from one console and view information from multiple NOSs on one screen.

Installation is straightforward. I installed a query engine on a machine in each of the domains I wanted to report on. This command-line process is easy. Next, I installed the EMS console program on the machines that I used for the reporting. Aside from a few permissions problems (hey, we're talking NT), installation was easy. Total installation time was 35 minutes.

For this review, I configured BindView on an HP NetServer LX Pro server with four 200MHz Pentium Pro CPUs, 512MB of memory, and 4GB of disk. I made this server part of the main Windows NT Magazine Lab domain (NTLABS). I then created 10 clients (100MHz Pentium clones) and made them a part of a different domain (CLIENT). I used BindView from NTLABS to manage systems on the CLIENT domain.

Up and Running
I ran a few reports from the local console to make sure everything was working properly before the real test. As any administrator knows, you have to be able to run the reporting and management software from your office. You don't want to have to get up and go to the machine in question. I jumped right in and installed the management tools on my laptop. Given that this version of BindView was still beta, the install went pretty well. BindView uses Btrieve, a DOS-based client/server database platform, to store its data, so you have to edit a couple of .ini files. This step was a little bit weird, mostly because I haven't edited an .ini file in about three years. I'd like to see BindView store these values in the Registry, where they belong, and provide a configuration utility so that you don't have to edit these values manually. Also, I'd like to choose the container that BindView stores the information in. Having to worry about a Btrieve database is just another hassle. If BindView used Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) calls for storing information, storing that information in the container you choose would be a simple exercise.

Once I'd tweaked all the .ini files, I loaded the program successfully. Screen 1 is the EMS console screen, and I've selected the Windows NT tab, where each icon represents a logical grouping of tasks (submenu) or a report. I clicked the List of Services icon to bring up Screen 2, which lists all services running on the client machines in my scope (BindView presets this list at the factory, but you can modify it--more about modifying later). If you click the security icon, you get a submenu and more security-related choices.

Strength in Reporting
BindView EMS's strength is reporting, and it ships with hundreds of standard reporting templates. Table 1 lists some commonly used reports you can create with BindView. But one thing I've learned in systems administration is that if you think you have all the reports you need, you just haven't talked to enough senior managers yet. So with this idea in mind, I took a standard report that ships with the product and modified it.

No systems administrator has enough disk space on the network, so I started with the Disk Space Analysis report. The BindView report shows the available free disk space and any disk space the client is currently using. You can add these two numbers to get the total disk size, but I modified the report to display total disk size.

You can use the current disk usage graph as a template and modify it, or you can make a duplicate, as I chose to do, with the Make Duplicate function in the Edit menu. Right-click the duplicate item, and select the Modify Definition function. To modify the query portion, navigate the buttons until you reach a display similar to Screen 3. Scroll down the Fields box to find the Disk Space Total KB field. Click this field to add it to the field list. Next, you'll want to filter out certain machines. In my case, I wanted to see only the Telos machines. Choose Filter Specification to filter the output for this query. I filtered by machine name and restricted the query to only machines that start with Telos, as shown in Screen 4. I also wanted to sort the results by disk size instead of machine name. From Screen 5, you get the same point-and-click modification of the sort criteria. You can also change the scope to reflect only specific domains. For my report, I left it at the default. Click OK to finish the process.

Next, I decided to modify the graph for my report. To make this graph functional, I changed it to a 2D horizontal bar graph. I chose the Graph Setup option from the modification screen to bring up Screen 6, and I selected the horizontal bar graph and selected 2D. I clicked OK and was back at the modification screen and ready to test the modified report. I clicked Launch Graph to bring up the modified report, shown in Screen 7. Now I needed to save this definition. I selected Close from the File menu, and BindView asked whether I wanted to save this definition. I said yes, and was finished. (To change the name of this report or the icon that represents it, you can right-click the icon and choose Properties.)

Almost Perfect
As I demonstrated, you can quickly build a toolkit of useful reports with BindView. As I created different reports, I was continually amazed at how quickly I could manipulate the results into a meaningful graph or report.

Unfortunately, BindView doesn't provide desktop management. If you want to install some software or take control of a system to solve a problem, forget it. BindView Development intends to add these features, and the company promises the management functions will work the same regardless of the operating system.

If you need a top-notch reporting tool for your network and can wait for the management tools to follow, BindView is an excellent choice. Because it is easy to set up and supports NT and NetWare 3.1 and 4.0, BindView is a nice option for mixed shops. If BindView can deliver on the promise of complete desktop management for NT, NetWare, and UNIX to complement its already impressive reporting features, systems administrators will beat a path to BindView Development's door.

BindView EMS/NOSadmin
BindView Development * 713-881-9100 or 800-749-8439
Web: http://www.bindview.com
Price: Pricing starts at $495