Network executives will be able to manipulate their directories with a new tool Novell is giving away.
Dubbed ScheMax, the software reads the structure or schema of Novell Directory Services (NDS), maps it and lets customers add, change or delete directory attributes and write utilities to manage the directory or its user, printer or network objects. For instance, NDS contains objects for users called user objects, which may contain details or attributes about the user, such as telephone number, address and user name. ScheMax lets administrators add objects to the NDS schema that are customised to their organisation or delete objects they may not use.
"The bottom line is you can tweak the NDS schema and do anything you want with it now," says Gary Porter, network manager for the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. "You can also update information automatically without writing any code."
ScheMax also lets users set policies for directory changes and maintenance.
"My interest in ScheMax will lie principally in how well it will help me with routine maintenance in a standard directory services environment, not so much in all the ways it can alter the schema," says Gerald Reynolds, IS director for the Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Clovis, California. "A stable, clean, well-maintained directory is more important to me than the ability to add bells and whistles to it."
Novell acquired ScheMax from its developer, directory management company Netoria, in 1999.
ScheMax lets customers without programming knowledge add attributes such as telephone number or PC inventory tag number to the directory.
Until now, Novell sold ScheMax for $4.50 per user. It is the first stand-alone tool Novell has given away. The company has met with a favorable response from users who have asked for free directory tools or free NDS for years.
"ScheMax was rather expensive before," says Porter, who wants to encourage Novell to provide more free software. "I would love to see Novell provide [NetWare utility] OnSite Administrator, which allows you to manage multiple servers remotely, for free. Now, in order to get [OnSite Administrator], you have to be a premium support customer. It's not even for sale."
Premium service support customers receive Novell's highest area of support on a 24-7 basis for a yearly fee. OnSite Administrator was in a public beta test for several years and used by a large number of people. When Novell withdrew it, it angered a lot of users, observers say.
"Any product that can help network managers make a more stable environment and reduce the calls to technical support people at Novell should be free," according to Porter.
ScheMax works with Novell's eDirectory and NDS Corporate Edition on NetWare 4 and 5, Solaris and Linux networks, and can be managed from Windows 95/98 or Windows NT workstations.
The software is available for download from www.novell.com/download#nds.