Product review: Virtuosity deftly migrates NT

Managing Windows NT domains can be difficult, especially when multiple domains are in use. Problems range from controlling and auditing security parameters on each NT system to migrating users, groups, and domains into other domains. Many tools exist to handle these situations, but Aelita Software Group's Virtuosity, Version 3.0, can handle these situations and more. The software saves administrators time by helping automate these tasks. Virtuosity is a great tool for any size NT network environment.

Also, if you're planning to migrate to Windows 2000 server (formerly Windows NT 5.0), you may already know you will have to consolidate as many of your domains as possible to make the transition less difficult. Many of Version 3.0's features concern domain migration in preparation for Windows 2000, which is really the product's high point. Many companies will migrate to Windows 2000 when it becomes available, and it will not necessarily be an easy task. Difficulties will arise for administrators who are unfamiliar with Microsoft's Active Directory technology, which replaces the domain models used in NT 4.0.

Aelita's Virtuosity can help administrators in several areas. Its essence lies in its capability to gather essential system information and then store it in a database. Information is collected about users, user settings, user passwords, groups, group membership, file system security settings, and shared resources, as well as the restrictions on those shares.

The really interesting thing about this network management software is that once it collects all of the NT information and then stores it in an ODBC-compliant database, you can use it as you see fit; for example, you can perform security assessments, system configuration setting restoration, and NT domains migration and consolidation.

To move from NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, you will need to migrate all aspects of your network, and the more domains you have, the more tedious the migration will be. Virtuosity makes the entire process much simpler with its Domain Migration Wizard, which helps administrators more seamlessly consolidate one NT domain into another because users, local and global groups, computers, and resources can be more easily migrated. In my tests the wizard tracked the migration, letting me stop at any point and resume the migration later, or back out of any migration changes I made.

This version also adds other useful features. For example, a Backup and Recovery wizard can be automated to perform the backup and restoration of network system information. Additionally, built into the reporting engine is a security analyser that uses the information collections to help assess overall network security.

To test Virtuosity, I installed the software on an NT 4.0 server running on a 200MHz Pentium system with 128M bytes of RAM. The InstallzShield Wizard simplified the process; I had only to choose a folder name and installation directory. The full installation required about 16.67M bytes of free disk space and a system reboot after the install.

Virtuosity 3.0's capabilities for analysing system security and easing NT domain migration impressed me. It's a must-have for networks with numerous domains that should be consolidated for simplicity's sake, or in preparation for Windows 2000. I highly recommend it.

Mark Joseph Edwards (mark@ntshop.net) is a writer and network consultant at Netropolis Technology Group.

THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD

Virtuosity 3.0

This network management tool is a huge time-saver that is designed to help ease Windows NT domain migration and assess overall Windows NT system security.

Pros: Easy to install; well-designed wizards; ODBC-compliant.

Cons: Semi-expensive.

Platforms: Windows NT 3.51 or NT 4.0 Server or Workstation.

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