NetPro update aims to tame Microsoft product

Directory management vendor NetPro this week will update it MissionControl software with tracking, diagnostic and auditing features along with new interfaces designed to make it easier for users to tame Microsoft's server for integrating identities.

Microsoft's Identity Integration Server (MIIS) has suffered with a reputation of being a complex environment. It is a system-to-system integration hub built on meta-directory technology that pushes identity changes made in one system out to all other systems connected to the hub in order to keep identity information in synch or to provision accounts.

Microsoft is planning upgrades and a new version in 2007, codenamed Gemini, in order to subtract some of the complexity of configuring and deploying the platform. NetPro hopes its MissionControl 2.0 makes it easier to manage the platform once it is set up.

"Our experience is that your average Active Directory administrator who might be responsible for running daily jobs on MIIS can get themselves potentially in a bad spot that they might not be equipped to troubleshoot," says Lance Russell, a principle with PointBridge, an IT consulting firm in Chicago. "I think MissionControl will help provide more consistency to the operation of MIIS and the ability to troubleshoot MIIS."

Russell says some of the key features are the ability to troubleshoot problems based on all the instances of an individual's identity across a company, and MissionControl's ability to hide some of the coding and scripting it takes to troubleshoot access issues.

NetPro also has added an Outlook-like calendar interface to its Run Profiler Scheduler, which in essence tells MIIS what to do such as synch identities or import data. Today, that task is done with native tools or through scripting.

"We've made it about as simple as scheduling a meeting," says Jay Lockett, the development manager for MissionControl. The calendar also shows a historical look at run profiles that highlights failures in red, success with warnings in yellow, and error free execution in green. The UI is meant to replace the need to wade through event logs.

MissionControl also features back-up, restore and versioning capabilities for the connectors that pump data to and from MIIS. Also new is a graphical interface that shows everywhere that a user attribute within MIIS is linked throughout the network, and auditing features for change control.

"NetPro has given MIIS a better shot at being used by a slightly less technical audience," says Earl Perkins, an analyst with Gartner. But Perkins says that Microsoft still has work to do with MIIS in other areas such as workflow and delegation.

MissionControl is sold on a per CPU, per server base and a typical installation is priced at US$27,000.

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