FastLane to ease Windows 2000 transition

In a drive to ride the coattails of the soon-to-be released Windows 2000, FastLane Technologies Inc. has developed directory management software designed to ease the migration of server data.

The Halifax company has created DM/Consolidator 2.0 to allow administrators to move massive amounts of data while preserving NT file structures and permissions and, at the same time, allowing real-time user access to information during the migration process, according to FastLane.

“We got a request from Microsoft (for software) for their own internal network upgrade to Windows 2000,” said Richard Khan, product manager for DM/Consolidator. “It had to meet three criteria. It had to be schedulable, people had to have access while migration is going on, and it has to keep all permissioning,” he said.

While corporate migration to Windows 2000 is an obvious target market it is not the only use for DM/Consolidator, according to FastLane.

“Network administrators are always trying to make things flow better, work faster without spending money. Moving data closer to users is a way of improving response time of the network. People traditionally stayed away from data migration because it was such an onerous task,” Khan said.

DM/Consolidator may remove some of that burden, according to beta testers.

“We used it to move our NT logon scripts from a server in California to a server in New York. After we submitted the job we went to dinner and came back and the job was done,” said John Rotherham, systems integrator at Northrop Grumman’s IT subsidiary Logicon in Hawthorne, Calif. It took about two hours to move 40MB of data, according to Rotherham. “It did it with no glitches at all. We checked about 10 to 15 per cent of permissions and all were OK.”

This ability to easily schedule the pruning and grafting of parts of file systems and send them to multiple configurable targets while maintaining permissioning is DM/Consolidator’s strong suit, according to Khan. “An administrator can be in location A, take stuff from location B and send it to location C,” he said.

“We are very excited about the utility,” said Greg Speer, NT domain architect project manager for Texas Instruments Inc. in Dallas. “It takes a lot of the risk out of the project because it is GUI driven. It allows you to get an entry-level person to do the project successfully, where you wouldn’t have been successful in the past,” he said. Though they moved the 15GB of data off hours, he said they felt confident they could do it during production hours.

DM/Consolidator allows for real-time user access to data by making a copy of the server data. Once this is done, the system needs to be shut down for a short period while DM/Consolidator verifies any changes made while the migration process was occurring.

Analysts agree DM/Consolidator has some unique features. According to John Enck of the Gartner Group Inc. in Loveland, Colo., no other products on the market offer in-place file migration while maintaining ownership and permission data. He said he doesn’t see a big demand in the area of server consolidation, simply because he doesn’t see a great deal of that activity going on right now. That could change with corporate movement to Windows 2000, however.

Jamie Lewis, CEO and research director with the Burton Group in Atlanta, agrees. “I think primarily the customers that will be interested in FastLane’s product are customers planning Windows 2000 deployment who need help with the migration to that environment. That said, it is going to be a pretty large population of users given the installed base of NT and I think the demand will get higher in late 2000, mid-2001,” he said.

According to Speer, Texas Instruments will eventually move to Windows 2000 but probably not until late 2001 or early 2002. Speer also added that he would like to see an integrated e-mail system in DM/Consolidator so that administrators could notify users that data migration is going on. Lewis said he would also like to see better support for other directory offerings.

A more user-friendly GUI is the main difference between DM/Consolidator 1.0 designed for Microsoft and version 2.0, slated for general release. DM/Consolidator 2.0 will be available in Q4. Pricing starts at $US1,995 per server.

FastLane in Halifax is at 1-800-947-6752.

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