Utilities ride on NT coattails

Every Microsoft Exchange Server license bought by the federal government
is good news for NetIQ Corp. The 3-year-old Santa Clara, Calif., software developer sells
its Microsoft BackOffice and Windows NT operations management software on the General
Services Administration Information Technology Schedule.


Because agencies in recent months have bought thousands of Microsoft Exchange Server
licenses, NetIQ has in a relatively short time sold its NetIQ AppManager suite to some of
the largest federal NT users, including the Navy.


In selling to the government, NetIQ had help from three federal integrators: Wang
Government Services, Federal Data Corp. of Bethesda, Md., and Compaq Computer Corp., which
now owns Digital Equipment Corp.’s integration services organization.


“We’re right on Microsoft’s coattails,” said Paul Murray, federal
sales director for NetIQ. “We’re going to manage all of Veterans Affairs’
Exchange servers.”


About 20 other agencies and organizations, including the Postal Service, Justice
Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, Federal Trade Commission,
Energy Department and Defense Intelligence Agency, have licensed NetIQ, Murray said.


When DIA bought NetIQ AppManager licenses for every Exchange server on its classified
network, it was seeking “throughput information—how many messages are going
inside the agency, how many are going out, how many messages per hour per server, who are
our high users and what kind of disk space they’re utilizing,” said Jim Kronz, a
DIA programmer analyst and e-mail section leader. “The NetIQ scripts get down
and dirty in all those areas,” he said.


Kronz, who is at the point of testing the software on operational systems, said the
NetIQ suite is “the only product we found that is supposed to do all the things we
wanted.”


Kronz said he can configure each of DIA’s Compaq ProLiant 6500 servers for 500
Exchange users and 60G of data. “We’ve already gotten some good stuff off our
test cases,” he said.


DIA operations managers had been using the basic performance monitoring tools in
Windows NT and Exchange. “This is our first attempt to get bigger,” Kronz said.


NetIQ AppManager 3.0, set for December release, monitors 17 separate NT applications
and servers including Microsoft’s Exchange Server, Terminal Server, Transaction
Server, Cluster Server and SQL Server.


The suite has 22 prebuilt Visual Basic for Applications scripts for Exchange Server
alone, NetIQ officials said. The automated scripts free server managers from having to
riffle through log files to see whether a critical message was written, they said.


Besides Microsoft BackOffice and Windows NT servers, the new release will also monitor
Lotus Domino and Notes, Compaq Insight Manager, Citrix Systems Inc.’s WinFrame, Dell
Computer Corp.’s OpenManage tools, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s TopTools for Servers
and NEC Computer Systems’ ESM-Pro management suite.


NetIQ AppManager, which is compatible with NT 3.51, 4.0 and 5.0 operating systems,
stores performance data in an SQL Server centralized repository and generates 150 prebuilt
service-level reports.


“It’s the person who does the day-in and day-out work at the keyboard who
needs a tool like this,” Murray said.


Some Defense agencies have given top-level military commanders access to the reports.


“Every day the general can go in and see what’s happening to Exchange and SQL
Server, rather than every Friday trying to get the spreadsheets going to generate
reports,” he said.


A single NetIQ AppManager 3.0 server can monitor more than 500 systems, said
NetIQ’s Thomas Kemp, vice president of marketing.


Rather than replicate data between repositories, NetIQ AppManager uploads and
summarizes data from multiple repositories on a centralized SQL Server database.


“You can tie event information from all your repositories into a master
distributed event console so you have a global view of all your subrepositories and the
events they’re seeing,” Kemp said.


Each monitoring agent, which communicates exceptional events back to the management
server, has its own local Microsoft Access database repository.


The NetIQ AppManager represents systems and applications as icons on the management
server console. Its graphical interface exposes all script parameters so that server
administrators can easily change default thresholds, Kemp said.


AppManager has hooks to common framework management packages, which include
Hewlett-Packard OpenView, CA-Unicenter TNG from Computer Associates International Inc. and
Tivoli/TME 10 NetView from the IBM Corp. Tivoli Systems subsidiary.


Kemp said NetIQ’s software is both competitive and complementary to the big
framework management packages.


“The data center guys don’t appreciate what the Exchange administrator has to
go through,” he said.


Two Houston companies, BMC Software Inc. and Mission Critical Software Inc., also are
competitors, along with a garage industry of shareware for managing large NT networks,
Kemp said.


“There’s definitely a need for complexity management,” he said,
especially for tools built from scratch using Microsoft technologies to manage Microsoft
technology.


NetIQ AppManager identifies memory leaks and bottlenecks on the server as well as which
Structured Query Language statements are consuming the most CPU cycles, Kemp said.


The software can reboot a remote server or restart a service. “For SQL Server, we
can automatically truncate a log file and kill a runaway process,” he said.


None of these are tasks for Microsoft Systems Management Server, which handles software
distribution and remote control rather than operational issues, Kemp said.


The NetIQ management server follows two key management standards: the Microsoft
Management Console and the Web-based Enterprise Management Initiative’s common
information model, Kemp said.


NetIQ agents start at $600, consoles at $2,500. More information appears on the Web at
http://www.netiq.com.


Contact NetIQ’s federal office at 703-934-6074.   

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