Simulate the set-up before rolling out Active Directory

Active Directory, the repository of information that underpins Microsoft Windows 2000, is difficult to reconfigure once it has...

Active Directory, the repository of information that underpins Microsoft Windows 2000, is difficult to reconfigure once it has been implemented, but the problem of getting it right first time is being tackled through a product from UK company Xellirate, writes Eric Doyle.

The tool, dubbed Directorysim allows virtual modelling of a projected roll-out of Active Directory, taking into account end-user profiles, distribution, server locations and configurations.

John Earley, managing director of Xellirate, said, "Senior IT managers in large enterprises have little choice but to migrate to Windows 2000 Server and, by default, implement Active Directory. In addition to being an entirely new application, Active Directory is particularly daunting because it reaches every part of the network and poor implementation will result in an intolerable hit on service level expectations."

Earley said Directorysim can reduce some of the uncertainties that are left even after using Microsoft's utilities. ADtest, he said, is merely a traffic generator and reporting tool which effectively tests individual server configurations but cannot predict the effect across a network.

ADsizer is little more than a spreadsheet calculator that works out minimum server capacities but does not take into account server locations and topographies and gives no analysis of user response times, he added.

Consultants have stressed the importance of meticulous planning before implementing Active Directory. Directorysim offers support to create an effective plan more rapidly. Assumptions made regarding new servers to support the system can be validated before investing in costly hardware using the product.

The simulation engine that helps create the virtual model is generic and forms the basis for several other network and directory performance planning products. Within Directorysim it is used to help managers avoid the specific challenges that Active Directory poses and avoid the possibilities of system failures.

Earley said it can also be used in existing Active Directory environments to show the effect any changes in configuration or additions to the network may have on performance.

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