Tool eases Active Directory management

Javelina Software LLC this week will release a tool kit that will help network professionals streamline and automate administration of Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory.

The company’s ADvantage tool kit is client software that lets users perform what amounts to batch processing and eliminates the need to perform manual repetitive tasks or create customized scripts for procedures such as mass imports of users or resetting passwords.

The software also features a search-and-replace tool that allows for bulk changes to be made such as a ZIP code change that affects users’ addresses stored in the directory.

The set of 11 ADvantage tools also can be grouped into customized subsets with controlled access only to certain features and assigned to select administrators.

ADvantage also has a reporting capability that lets users extract information from the directory, such as all accounts that soon will expire. Those reports can be imported into other ADvantage tools and used to launch bulk modifications of the directory.

“Trying to get reports out of Active Directory is like trying to pull teeth. You have to create scripts,” says Michael Hart, senior solutions provider for Conteks, a systems integrator in Lexington, Ky. “With ADvantage we can put on a filter to create reports on anything from organizational units to the entire directory.”

Hart says he also uses the software to add users in bulk to the directory, especially after a merger.

“In one instance we used ADvantage to add 3,800 users as part of a mass import and were able to create 200 to 300 accounts per minute,” Hart says.

Hart used a file created from a list of users imported from PeopleSoft Inc. and loaded it into ADvantage to create attributes such as user identifications, passwords and display names. Previously, he had to write custom scripts that made calls to the Active Directory Services Interface, a more complicated process that only let him create 100 to 150 accounts per minute.

“We got double the performance with ADvantage, and it insulates you from having to do any programming,” Hart says.

Javelina competes with similar tools from Hyena and Quest Technologies.

“This is an easier way to manage Active Directory than using the native Users and Computers tools,” says Elena Kennedy, marketing manager for Javelina. She says ADvantage also provides tools not found in Active Directory, such as search-and-replace.

The ADvantage client runs on Windows 2000 and XP Professional desktops and on Win 2000 servers.

The software is available now, and costs US$500 per administrator until year-end. After Dec. 31, the price will increase to US$1,000.