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In charge of your systems Active Control, Anytime, Anywhere

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ProductivityNets ActiveManage changes the balance of power between you and your servers. Network administrators are managing both more servers and a more diverse set of servers these days. The consolidation and downsizing occurring in many companies means more servers for each network administrator to manage. The low cost of servers has also led to their increasing numbers for both workgroup and enterprise applications. These servers come in many forms. Although Windows has remained very popular, most companies have more than one operating system given the influx of Linux and the continued dominance of Solaris for back-end databases and high-end applications. Its not uncommon for applications to use multi-tiered architectures with user interface, business logic, and database components split among Windows and Unix systems. Servers enter your company innocently enough, one by one, but quickly become in total, an unmanageable headache. ActiveManage, a simple and powerful tool, puts you firmly back in charge of the Windows, Linux, and Solaris system in your company. The visibility and control provided by ActiveManage leads to confidence in your systems and your companys confidence in you. ProductivityNet is passionate about the tools necessary to help you in this pursuit. ActiveManage supports the administration of Windows, Linux, and Solaris servers from a single unified Web, PalmOS, or PocketPC interface through a single administration point, the ActiveManage Host. The engineers at ProductivityNet have designed a tool with a thoughtful interface that demystifies complex operating systems so you can handle routine tasks easily and focus on the root cause of problems when they arise. Any server or other device put under ActiveManage control will be under your full and active control anytime, anywhere. Compare ActiveManage to the alternative of using a muddled set of underpowered tools that come with Windows, Solaris, and Linux tools meant for single-server, single operating systems administration from the console or a management workstation. Network administrators must master a slew of different tools to manage Windows and a completely different set for Linux or Solaris. ActiveManage harvests the capabilities of the most important tools, adds additional powerful features such as alerts and automated alert responses, and presents it all to you in a simple Web or wireless device interface.

Figure 1: ActiveManage unifies and simplifies the active administration of Windows, Linux, and Solaris servers.

Over time, ActiveManage will allow you to stabilize and continually improve the performance of all the systems in the company. Imagine a single ActiveManage Host with connections out to each server on your network where you can actively control each of these servers and they can actively communicate with you by using alerts. Anything you need to do add a new user or group, start or stop a Windows service or Unix process, run a command on your servers is available to you on your browser or wireless device. You can manage servers in different locations from wherever you are. Problems can be solved today and prevented tomorrow.

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ActiveManage makes systems administration more productive and satisfying because the tool was designed to solve the real problems that occur in your network. Its a powerful and comprehensive tool with a simple, accessible interface. Saves time Enables time savings in accomplishing common day-to-day system administration tasks, anytime, anywhere over the web or using wireless devices. Minimizes downtime Provides alerts to developing problems, and automated responses/fixes to system anomalies, thus proactively managing critical systems in the organization. Improves system quality Comprehensively manages servers, desktops and routers including Microsoft Windows, Linux and Sun Solaris operating systems. Simple to deploy Fast to deploy and configure clients, host and agents with secure and encrypted access to the native interface of the systems. The tool will change the way you administer your systems and enable some powerful solution scenarios well discuss. With ActiveManage, a network administrator can support the critical needs of the business and readily maintain an increasingly dynamic environment while improving the quality of service to the enterprise. A simple ActiveManage agent on each managed server brings that server under full control. In fact, the entire ActiveManage product suite can be installed in just a few hours. Contrast this with more expensive solutions that often take weeks or months to deploy and still dont provide the critical benefits of ActiveManage. While ActiveManage is not complex, it is the most powerful tool available to actively control the servers on your network.

The Current State of Systems Administration

ActiveManage has defined a new product category: multi-server, multi-platform systems administration across the Web. With its unique approach to multi-platform systems administration, ActiveManage can provide a cohesive systems administration strategy that addresses the needs of a busy network administrator handling a diverse network. Lets look at some of the approaches in use today for system administration.

Using native operating system tools

Network administrators do not have the right tools to diagnose and correct systems problems before they become company problems. Its tempting to believe that server software such as Microsoft Windows 2000, Linux, or Solaris comes with the right tools to administer them effectively. They dont. These tools are made for managing a single server on the local network. These tools dont include the proactive alerts necessary to catch problems before they happen and many of the tools cannot be used remotely without additional technologies like virtual private networks (VPNs). Microsoft Terminal Server only works for single servers and requires add-on security. Using only these tools is compara-

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ble to an accountant using only Excel or a creative designer using only the Microsoft Windows Paint program. You can get by but you will be forever limited by these mediocre tools. ActiveManage lets you both monitor and control multiple Windows, Linux, and Solaris servers without many of the typical hassles.

Remote, secure administration as an afterthought

Companies have developed some painful methods to remotely manage Microsoft Windows servers. The most common method is to use a remote control software package like Symantecs pcAnywhere, often over a VPN. The second method involves making a dial-up connection to the server. Both methods lead to very slow response time and do not provide the proactive administration with alerts and automated responses found in a tool like ActiveManage. Also, the network administrator must connect to each server individually it takes longer and there is no sense of managing the system as a whole. Unix administrators often use a Secure Shell to provide an encrypted link to Linux or Solaris servers. This works fine but doesnt offer a friendly user interface and once again, each server must be administered individually.

Wireless monitoring tools

Some vendors offer wireless monitoring tools to check on a servers health. These tools do not offer the powerful Active Control offered by ActiveManage to make changes from the wireless device. In addition, other vendors wireless devices are not ideal for many administration tasks given their small user interfaces and lack of a keyboard. The ActiveManage Wireless Client is much more suitable for many administration tasks. The ActiveManage Client for PalmOS and ActiveManage Client for PocketPC provide rich interactive interfaces for monitoring and controlling servers.

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ActiveManage in a Nutshell
ActiveManage provides many benefits for the network administrator with one, two, a dozen or even a hundred servers to manage. ActiveManage excels both in managing servers on the local network and in managing remote servers across town or across country. The architecture and Web interface also fit nicely into help desks and even enable external consultants to effectively manage a companys servers. The ActiveManage Host functions as the hub between Web and wireless clients and managed servers running the Microsoft Windows, Linux or Solaris operating systems. ActiveManage agents are also available for Windows desktops. ActiveManage agents for additional platforms will be released periodically. Lets explore each of the critical factors of ActiveManage systems administration:

Active Control
Active Control means that a network administrator can perform a complete set of tasks to effectively administer all servers. Problems tend to decrease over time as the network administrator falls into the pattern of discover, solve, and improve. ActiveManage raises visibility into the servers through helpful views and flexible alerts giving access to the root cause of problems. The ActiveManage Web and wireless interfaces provides access to powerful hooks into the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems to fix most problems when they occur. The ActiveManage Active Responder helps permanently control problems by allowing the network administrator to add automatic responses to many known conditions. Many other products and certainly the management tools included with Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris only handle a subset of these tasks and dont help network administrators uncover the root cause of problems. These products keep network administrators in a perpetual state of reacting to problems. ActiveManage begins a state of continual improvement.

Anytime, Anywhere
Network administrators are people. They move around. They go to lunch, go home at night, go to tradeshows, and walk around within a company. They need a systems administration tool that travels with them. Native tools within Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris require client installs that require a network administrator to be at his desk or at the server console. Microsoft tools are notoriously bad over slow links or across the Internet. Even secured administration of Linux and Solaris servers requires a computer fitted with a Secure Shell client. ActiveManage lets you move around naturally with full control of and communication with your servers from any wireless device with the ActiveManage client or from a Web browser.

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The native tools in Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris are designed for single-server administration. Often a network administrator wants to view settings or make changes on multiple servers simultaneously, a task ill-suited for these native tools. For example, companies often use clustering software or server farms to offer high-availability for key applications. These techniques ensure that the application will continue working even if a server fails. When troubleshooting these applications, a network administrator needs to simultaneously view each of the servers in the cluster or farm to diagnose problems. In addition, companies often have similar servers deployed around the company for file, web, or other services. A change to one server usually means the need to change, or at least check, other similar servers. ActiveManage puts all of these servers under a single point of control. With a single login to ActiveManage, multiple servers can be viewed, compared, and configured from one interface. Also, ActiveManage alerts and automated responses display warnings and informational messages for any collection of servers. An effective systems administration tool like ActiveManage will make administering multiple servers much easier.

The Microsoft Windows platform is very popular within companies but Linux and Solaris often house key applications such as databases, directories, or firewalls. A systems administration solution that does not address these platforms will be incomplete. Ideally, the systems administration tool would treat the common features of an operating system such as adding users, starting and stopping services or processes in a common way. A network administrator would perform the same task in the same way for different systems and have the tool figure out the appropriate implementation for each disparate system. ActiveManage simplifies systems administration across different operating systems so network administrators can focus on the semantics of the problem without worrying about the syntax.

ActiveManage in Action
ActiveManage will not sit in your server room collecting dust. You will use ActiveManage on a daily basis for routine administration such as adding users and groups or stopping and starting Windows services and Unix processes. You will use ActiveManage in troubleshooting to discover and to solve many types of server problems and finally to improve the network and your control of it over time with new alerts and automated responses to recurring issues. All of these activitities will be simplified because you can manage all of your

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servers from a unified Web or wireless device interface. Moreover, you will really appreciate the power and flexibility of ActiveManage when trouble hits. Lets look at a probably all-too-familiar scenario.

Friday afternoon
Your SmoothSales order entry system is down. This system takes all Web-based and direct sales orders in your company or at least it did. Why now? As luck would have it, its early Friday afternoon near the end of the quarter and you are at a remote office setting up some new users. Your pager just went off with the frantic message from your vice president in charge of sales.

Before ActiveManage
Before you brought in ActiveManage, the prospects were gloomy. Drop your current work and drive the 45 minutes back to the home office to fix the problem. The people at the remote office need you but you cant be in two places at once. You anxiously think back on all the times you attempted to walk someone through a solution over the phone. Those were frustrating times and rarely worked to your satisfaction. The best answer then was for you, and you alone, to solve the problem. This outage is costing your company money, some serious image problems, and could put a damper on the whole weekend, a weekend you really need to relax and recover from the hard work youve done in conjunction with the companies expansion over the last 3 months. The company comes first but the thought of another weekend in the office is tough to take.

ActiveManage helps you discover the problem

The SmoothSales application has always been reliable but you had some warning signs of the current problem. In the last half hour, youve received two alerts on your Compaq iPAQ through the ActiveManage alert interface. One of the SmoothSales servers was low on disk space and the CPU was running abnormally high. You thought it might just be end-of-quarter surge but you were planning to check it out before you left for the day. ActiveManage can help you discover and solve this problem from where you are. The SmoothSales application runs on two Windows 2000 servers with a back-end Oracle database housed on Solaris. These Windows and Solaris servers are under ActiveManage control. Since ActiveManage uses network and firewall-friendly communications, you have no trouble logging in and seeing the SmoothSales servers securely from a browser at your location. First, you check the Solaris server that houses the Oracle database. There is no need to use a secure shell client or an insecure Telnet session. ActiveManage provides secure connectivity right from your browser. Oracle was updated just last week, supposedly just a minor update, and you suspect that might be the cause of the problem. The Oracle processes on Solaris check out fine the processes are running and the Oracle logs look fine. A little perplexed, you click on the Windows 2000 SmoothSales server. The services are up and running, but one more click shows the CPUs pegged at 8085% and no one is using the system.

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Its starting to become a little clearer. The hard disk warning you received earlier and the consistently high CPU usage lead you to believe the application has run out of resources. You check the services more closely using ActiveManage and see the logging service eating up CPU and RAM. A check of the log file shows that it has grown to a monstrous 10 GB! Its all clear now. The DBA who upgraded Oracle had turned on verbose logging on the Windows server and had turned off the maximum log file size for a weekend of testing. When the systems were cutover to production, these helpful test settings were slow death for the application. It was just a matter of time. This system was eating its own hard disk and RAM resources and had finally died.

ActiveManage helps you solve the problem

The fix is easy. You delete the log file from the ActiveManage Web interface and change the log file settings on the SmoothSales Windows application using the ActiveManage integrated remote control interface. This fixes the CPU usage problem and a call back to headquarters confirms the system is back online.

ActiveManage helps you improve the situation

You rest easier now that the immediate problem is solved. You take a few minutes more to add some additional protection against future problems. Within ActiveManage, you add an alert that monitors the logging service more closely. You dont believe it will be a problem in the future but youve been burned once. You make a mental note that next time, youll pay closer attention when ActiveManage shows you the first sign of a coming problem. You are convinced that you can avoid future problems altogether by setting up the right alerts for each of the SmoothSales Windows services and Solaris processes youll work on this on the following Monday. ActiveManage made a potentially painful problem for you and your company quite easy to solve.

Page 8 Copyright 2002 ProductivityNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

More ActiveManage Scenarios

ActiveManage assists network administrators on a daily basis. We highlight some common scenarios where ActiveManage can help network administrators complete an important task. Earlier we discussed how to use ActiveManage to successfully fix a multi-platforms sales system from a remote office. The following scenarios will show in shorthand other ways to use ActiveManage. The flexibility of ActiveManage proves useful for a large number of common and unusual problems. ActiveManage provides summary and fine-grained control over the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems. The operating system plays a central role for any system as the link between the underlying hardware platform and all applications running on the server. By using the information and functionality provided by ActiveManage, both application and hardware problems can be discovered and solved through their interactions with the operating system. Here are some specific examples to illustrate how ActiveManage can be used to assist a network administrator. You might imagine other similar scenarios where ActiveManage can help you solve your specific systems challenges.

Administration by walking around

Network administrators often need to be in two places at once. Much of the job requires you to be out with the people helping them to use the network and its applications. Great network administrators have great people skills. However, many of the configuration changes can only be done from the server console or from your desktop computer. This creates stress and inefficiency for network administrators commuting between their desk and the floor. ActiveManage reduces this stress by bringing a full set of administration tools to a wireless device or laptop that travels with you. You can use a PDA with the ActiveManage client to provide full administration wherever you are inside your company. We call this administration by walking around.

Adding a new user from anywhere

Commonly new employees or consultants are hired without much warning to the network administrator. They require immediate access to the network to perform their jobs. Network administrators are forced to react to these situations often at a great cost to productivity and sometimes at personal cost to the network administrator when these requests come at night or over a weekend. With ActiveManage, you need not come into the office or even return to your desk to add these new users. You can use any browser or wireless device with PalmOS or PocketPC to add or delete a user from any location. After only a minor interruption, you can return to your meeting, go back to the conference, or carry on with your project.

Restarting a Microsoft Exchange mail server

Microsoft Exchange is commonly used by companies for e-mail. The e-mails, discussion topics, and attached documents stored by Exchange are very important to a company. Exchange data files, like relational database files, are a challenge to backup because the data files remain open and locked at all times. Most network administrators use special backup software or write scripts that stop the Exchange server in preparation for a backup. The Exchange Server is then restarted after the backup. Sometimes these scripts fail and an Exchange server may not restart.

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ActiveManage can alleviate this problem.A network administrator can create an automated response to manually check and restart Microsoft Exchange server as soon as a problem is diagnosed. ActiveManage includes canned SMTP e-mail alerts than will notify the network administrator when a mail server using SMTP is down. POP3, Web, DNS, FTP and other alerts can be used to keep network administrators informed about the health of key company servers.

The Linux Application Server

The Linux operating system is very popular for running Web applications using HTML, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and servlet technology. Developers can rapidly deploy dynamic applications to a production system using products such as Jakarta Tomcat. New features can be added frequently. Changes to these applications only take affect when the Tomcat server is re-started. Sometimes developers forget to do this. Using ActiveManage, network administrators can quickly cycle the Tomcat server to initiate recently added applications. The network administrator may opt to grant the lead developer rights to manage some of these servers. Then the lead developer can start and stop processes from anywhere, anytime by using ActiveManage.

The Solaris infrastructure server

Sun SPARC servers with the Solaris operating system handle the infrastructure for many medium and large companies. Many companies run high-end applications and Oracle databases or LDAP directory services on Solaris. In short, companies often trust this mission-critical function to Solaris and keeping these applications running requires access to the Solaris servers. When something happens to these servers, the Solaris expert is usually called in. ActiveManage can fix many problems without the need for expensive second or third level support. ActiveManage can make Solaris servers as accessible as Windows servers. If a problem creeps up in one of your applications, youll have the power to check the processes and hardware on the underlying Solaris infrastructure servers. You can check each of the processes, any error logs, and if necessary make changes to the Solaris servers. ActiveManage provides a full picture of all of the servers throughout a company to give you a complete picture of a problem, often before it becomes a problem.

Page 10 Copyright 2002 ProductivityNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

Todays network administrator needs a powerful tool for systems administration. No longer are the point solutions offered with operating systems sufficient for the network administrator dealing with a large number of diverse servers. Applications inside companies often have components distributed across different operating systems, and companies themselves are often distributed across large geographic areas. ActiveManage reduces the complexity of systems administration through a well-designed interface with summary and fine-grained control over Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Solaris servers as well as Microsoft Windows desktops. Network administrators can use ActiveManage to discover problems and peculiarities in their networks, solve everyday or one-time problems, and improve the resiliency of the network. Network administrators are no longer chained to their desk as ActiveManage supports both browser and wireless devices such as the Palm or Compaq iPAQ to proactively monitor and respond to any type of problem. Changes can be made to a single server or multiple servers if required. ActiveManage can work on the high-level to solve most problems and gives you the ability to dissect a problem in detail until you find its root cause. ActiveManage changes the balance of power between you and your systems.

Page 11 Copyright 2002 ProductivityNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

About ProductivityNet, Inc.

Launched in 1999 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Incubator Center and located in Troy, NY ProductivityNet produces innovative software solutions for all areas of network management. Our flagship product, ActiveManage, is designed to give network administrators anytime, anywhere control over multiple server platforms. Unlike traditional monitoring products, the ActiveManage product suite puts control of networks into the hands of administrators through a centralized application accessed through a Web browser or wireless handheld device.

ProductivityNet, Inc.
Corporate Headquarters

256 Broadway Troy, NY 12180 Phone: 518-273-9319 Fax: 518-273-6591 E-mail: Web: