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Earlier this week a number of users voiced concerns over "difficult management" within Windows networks based on the Active Directory of Windows 2000.
Consultants have now told CW360.com they plan to charge a premium for maintaining Active Directory installations. Users have also been advised to budget for third-party management tools to make the Active Directory more manageable.
Phil Roberts of Bangor IT services company Owen & Palmer, said his company would now be charging more for providing management services to companies running Windows 2000, because of the amount of time it takes for a third party to solve problems when things go wrong with Active Directory.
Network management products company Xellirate backed this stance. Xellirate managing director John Earley said users had to realise what they were "getting themselves into" when adopting Windows 2000, although he acknowledged there was little choice for most users.
Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research, said the problems faced by users were no surprise as Microsoft still had not addressed the management problems of Active Directory. He said many users were unaware of the tools bundled with the operating system or the third-party software they could buy to simplify management.
Lock said: "The costs associated with the management of an IT infrastructure form the bulk of expenditure and users do need to realise what they're getting themselves into."
Lock has a number of recommendations for any company considering adopting Active Directory. First, decide who will manage what aspects of the installation; then decide how to delegate responsibility. Finally, Lock suggested, users should work out a change management policy. All these steps, he noted, should be completed "before taking the [Windows 2000] CD out of the box".
In a paper on managing the Active Directory analyst firm Giga Information Group recommends businesses use third-party management tools for large installations. "It is absolutely essential that enterprises of 1,000 users or more bolster the capabilities of the embedded Windows 2000 Server Active Directory Management Toolkit (ADMT) with the appropriate management and monitoring tools."
Giga has identified a number of suppliers specialising in such management tools. These include NetIQ, FastLane Technology, Bind View, Aelita Software, BMC and Full Armor.
In June, Microsoft admitted that Active Directory was hard to manage. It said the next version of its server operating system, Windows .net, would tackle this issue. Stuart Kwan, group programme manager at Microsoft responsible for the Active Directory, said the new release focuses on making the server easier to administer.
To simplify Windows network management he said, "We have reduced the size of the Active Directory by gigabytes."