FRAMINGHAM (03/10/2000) - Novell Inc. will unveil two directory-enabled utilities this month that should make it easier to use, monitor and troubleshoot network resources.
The firm will demonstrate tools code-named NDS Explorer and NDS iMonitor at BrainShare in Salt Lake City, March 26-31. NDS Explorer is a utility for network end users that plugs in to the Microsoft Windows Explorer application and lets users search the NDS tree on their network and group co-workers or friends into folders, share files, and exchange e-mail or instant messages with them. NDS iMonitor is a browser-based utility for network managers that lets users troubleshoot and monitor Novell Directory Services (NDS).
In addition, Novell will release a tool kit that lets network managers create NDS Explorer-based applications using the Schemax utility for tasks users may have found difficult to perform in the past. Schemax is a directory customization utility available from Novell.
For instance, the ability to build a group of "lunch" friends in a 20,000-user, multiserver organization may be difficult. Users might only know users' given names but not their network logon names, e-mail addresses or telephone numbers.
With NDS Explorer, users can search by given name and group their co-workers for collaboration purposes. Users also could search for network printers that are located close to them and send print jobs to them.
"That is the single most important point: Not only does [the utility] work in Explorer, but the user is able to manage [and manipulate] those objects into a single container," says John Dunkle, president of Workgroup Creative Strategies. "That means that I can make changes in real time on the network to reflect my view of it. Microsoft does not have, even with Active Directory, that level of functionality today."
NDS Explorer is a Windows Explorer shell extension that allows NDS objects, such as users, volumes, printers and groups, to appear in Windows Explorer and lets users perform tasks, browse the directory, and add other users to personal groups, as long as the servers those users are attached to use the Internet standard Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or the Novell Directory Access Protocol (NDAP). NDAP, also known as the NDS protocol, services client directory requests and routes them to other NDS servers.
An IT senior analyst for an agricultural chemical manufacturing company in the Southeast says that NDS Explorer will be a useful tool for his network users.
He adds, though, that the potential of NDS Explorer in a heterogeneous network is far greater than being only a manager of NDS objects.
"A key item that would make this tool really nice would be support for the LDAP extensions to Active Directory, as well as NDS," he says. "These would give administrators the ability to import Active Directory or LDAP objects into Windows Explorer so users could manage them from the same interface." Novell is working toward Active Directory integration via DirXML, its metadirectory that uses XML.
NDS iMonitor is a browser-based utility that lets network administrators monitor and troubleshoot NDS partitions, replicas and servers. With the tool, users can perform traces, browse NDS objects or the schema and summarize synchronization efforts. They can also use NDS Web Monitor to configure devices and servers that are known to NDS.
"We are using more browser-based tools because they tend to be easier to use and especially more convenient for remote management," says Steve Raia, manager of enterprise server systems at Georgetown University.
Network managers can download a pre-alpha version of NDS Explorer from the ZENworks Cool Solutions Web site at http://www.novell. com/coolsolutions/zenworks/ downloadables.hml.
The next version of eDirectory, scheduled for release this summer, will have some of these features.