For administrators struggling to manage their mixed NetWare 4.11 and Windows NT environments, the free Novell Administrator for Windows NT utility set delivers a whole lot of something for nothing.
NA4NT, which became available last week as a free download from Novell Inc.'s Web site, gives network managers access to and control of Windows NT domains and workgroups from NDS (Novell Directory Services).
In mixed NetWare and NT environments where NDS is already established, NA4NT is a must-have utility for consolidating management of NetWare and NT user accounts and servers.
At similarly heterogeneous sites where the directory service has not yet been chosen, NA4NT's single point of administration capability adds another compelling feature to the already robust NDS.
NA4NT uses a service agent that dredges the Windows NT domain for elements that can be integrated into NDS. There is some controversy over the method Novell employs to accomplish this.
Officials at Novell claim they only use documented API calls. Microsoft officials, however, question whether NA4NT breaks the secure communications links of NT trusts.
In either case, NA4NT uses an inefficient SAP (Server Access Protocol), which could limit network performance.
On the competitive landscape, Synchronicity for Windows NT from NetVision provides a similar function and does so on all NetWare 3.x and 4.x operating system platforms; NA4NT works only on NetWare 4.11. But the $795 cost of a Synchronicity Starter Kit, which covers 25 NT users and one NDS server, is no bargain compared with the NA4NT giveaway.
Although there are a number of subtle differences between NA4NT and Synchronicity, Broadly speaking Synchronicity is an NT application that needs administrative equivalent access rights. These rights are obtained by user log-in to maintain synchronization.
In contrast, NA4NT is able to synchronize without using log-in--thus simplifying the linking process and consuming one less user connection.
Prior to installing NA4NT, PC Week Labs updated our NetWare 4.11 operating system and directory service by applying the latest revision, LIBUPB.EXE, which upgraded the CLIB (C Library) and added in the DSAPI (Directory Services API) tool kit. Once we'd handled these prerequisites, we easily installed NA4NT on our test network, guided by a setup wizard that we used to define a handful of operational parameters.
When the installation was complete, the Integration Utility started automatically.
Using this utility, we defined which NDS and NT domain objects we wanted integrated. For example, we selected a user account in the NT Domain and clicked the Integrate-to-NDS push button. This created a user account in NDS, thus confirming that access to the account would be authenticated through NDS rather than the NT Domain. Administrators can transfer multiple users and groups in a similar manner.
After finishing this transfer, network managers must perform all user-account maintenance using Novell's administration utilities. Changes made with NT's User Manager for Domains won't be automatically reflected in NDS, although a button in NA4NT's Integration Utility allows this process to be performed manually.
NA4NT establishes the NT domains and workgroups as separate objects in NDS, and we could easily create hybrid users, which are accounts common to both the NT Domain and NDS but managed using only the NDS utilities.
Network administrators charged with managing a mixed Netware and Windows NT enterprise would be wise to download this network management utility from Novell's Web site, at www.novell.com.