Expert Storage Manager
PowerQuest Corp.s PowerExpert Storage Resource Manager 5.0 gives Windows 2000 administrators powerful tools to manage storage resources. In eWeek Labs tests, we found that PowerExpert SRM 5.0 blends handy reporting and auditing capabilities with proactive storage quota management into a valuable management tool that will prove most useful in Windows-heavy networks.PowerExpert SRM 5.0 will look familiar to IT managers who have been using W. Quinn Inc.s SRM 5.0 package: PowerQuest licensed the software from W. Quinn. Although PowerExpert SRM 5.0 includes significant management and reporting improvements compared with some of its predecessorsW. Quinns SRM Manager 3.0, which we reviewed close to two years ago; and SpaceMaxx Inc.s SRM 1.0 (see the Feb. 5, 2001, review at www.eweek.com/links)this package is still very Microsoft-centric. It wont be as effective in environments where Unix and Linux servers predominate. One of the biggest improvements in this revision is PowerExpert SRM 5.0s tight integration with Microsoft Corp.s Active Directory. As a result of this new integration, IT managers can create storage usage policies with PowerExpert SRM 5.0 and propagate these policies throughout the network using Active Directory. In tests, we used this capability to create a storage policy to block MP3 storage and applied it to specific users and groups using Active Directory. To do tasks such as this, PowerExpert SRM 5.0 uses ADSI, or Active Directory Service Interfaces, to extend the schema of Active Directory and add in SRM (storage resource management)-specific classes and attributes for each managed object. Better Blocking Another improvement we saw was the upgraded file-blocking capabilities of PowerExpert SRM 5.0 compared with older revisions. The older versions of PowerExpert SRM blocked files based on the extensions. This was a fairly useful technology that allowed IT managers to block creation of unwanted multimedia files (WAV, MP3, AVI, MPG and so forth) and potentially dangerous code such as VBScripts on corporate storage systems. However, we could trick the SRM software by copying files to protected storage systems simply by renaming our files with bogus extensions. In PowerExpert SRM 5.0, a new option is available that allows the SRM software to scan the content of the files to make sure they are not masquerading as legitimate files. (For example, PowerExpert SRM 5.0 makes sure a .zip file really is a .zip file and not just a renamed MP3 file). The key to any SRM product is its reporting and auditing, and PowerExpert SRM 5.0 has significant improvements in both of these functions. The scanning process is considerably faster, thanks to the new RapidScan capability, which lets Power- Expert SRM 5.0 look at metadata stored in the NT File Server Master File Table instead of having to touch every file individually to create a report. The new reports that have been added to PowerExpert SRM 5.0 search for important things such as insecure files and chargeback reporting to measure utilization and create accounting reports. PowerExpert SRM 5.0 also introduces a Web-based management tool (in addition to the standard Microsoft Management Console utility) that made it easy for us to remotely manage storage systems and create and apply policies to users. Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PowerExpert SRM 5.0, released last month, is priced at $1,000 per server (volume discounts are available). Although we havent seen any products that could compete directly with PowerExpert, this seems a bit pricey.