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Check the pulse of NDS using DS Analyzer

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Christine McDermott

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Posted: 18 Aug 1999

Editor's Note: We're experimenting this week with a new type of feature article. If we were forced to give it a name, we'd call it something really original like Partner Spotlight. We have a number of Novell partners who provide cool solutions for NDS, and we thought you might be interested in an overview of some of these technologies. We're giving it a try, and we're anxious to hear from you and find out if this is useful.

And one more thing, rumor has it that NetPro is giving away fifty beefy t-shirts (at random) to Cool Solutions readers who download a trial version of DS Analyzer. If you like freebies, be sure to click the link at the bottom of the page, download the software, and give your luck a try.

Do you wonder how your network has been impacted by a NetWare 5 upgrade? Do you want to see how your ZENworks implementation has affected your directory? Do you wish you could determine if your containers are partitioned correctly? Well, DS Analyzer answers these questions and many more.

Understanding the nuts and bolts of your NDS tree is vital to successful and proactive directory management. Most administrators, like yourself, recognize this and keep tabs on their NDS implementations by maintaining detailed documentation about the physical layout of their networks. While these documents may be useful for daily management, troubleshooting and future network re-designs, they're not enough in their own right. To reduce unnecessary traffic overhead, enhance NDS performance, and reduce costs, you need network traffic baseline documentation that will help you understand what objects and processes are generating the traffic. Right?

DS Analyzer provides a new way for you to obtain this type of in-depth NDS traffic information. DS Analyzer collects and displays data all the way down to the object level, making it possible for you to establish baselines for network traffic with a few simple steps. You can view such potential NDS issues as excessive tree-walking, backlinking, replication storms, and extreme hop counts. And, armed with this data, you can make decisions that reduce unnecessary traffic overhead and reduce costs.

What is DS Analyzer?

DS Analyzer is a NDS management solution that gathers NDS traffic data. DS Analyzer compiles the data and displays it in a graphical format, enabling you to analyze, troubleshoot and tune the directory for optimal performance. DS Analyzer helps you find solutions to NDS problems, and gives you the information you need to make cost-effective, performance-enhancing decisions about your directories. Specifically, DS Analyzer helps you analyze NDS and establish baseline information that can then be used for troubleshooting, tree performance enhancement, planning and expansion, restructuring, cost management, and proactive NDS management.

Establishing Baseline Information

Networks are dynamic environments that work at various performance levels, depending upon a number of different factors. For example, a network might perform inefficiently due to an NDS problem or unplanned or poorly executed network growth. Diminished network performance is a strong warning sign that the network needs tuning, but this warning sign is only effective if an administrator first took the time to map out a reliable baseline analysis of NDS performance.

What is a True Baseline?

A true baseline is simply a compilation of measurements on the network's typical performance represented through data. These measurements are gathered at pre-specified intervals over a set period of time and are often depicted in a graph or table format.

Once the baseline is established through trend analysis and data gathering, you can set alarm thresholds that define "normal" performance and "problematic" performance. Once you've defined these thresholds, you would receive an alert when network conditions occur that exceed the "normal" operating parameters. If you don't establish a network baseline, the network may appear to be fine when it is up and running, but small problems may go unnoticed until they escalate into larger issues. A baseline helps prevent this common scenario.

Creating Baseline Information

NDS does not provide dedicated tools to establish baseline data for NDS traffic and performance. But, DS Analyzer fills the need by collecting and presenting NDS baseline data in an easy-to-read graphical format. The following scenarios illustrate DS Analyzer's baselining capabilities.

Scenario #1: Creating Traditional NDS Performance Baselines

Today, if you were to attempt to baseline the performance of your network, you would have to do the following:

  1. RCONSOLE into each server that you want to monitor and write down specific measurements for each respective server on your tree.

    This task might take one hour to several hours, depending on the number of servers you want to monitor and the time required to gather the required statistics using existing Novell tools. (These tools might include Monitor.NLM, DSTrace, NDS Manager and DSRepair.)

  2. Next, take the measurements and manually enter them into a spreadsheet (Excel, etc.) Again, this task may require several hours of time.

  3. Finally, use the statistics in the spreadsheet to create a graph to represent the network's health.

Of course, reliable, up-to-date baseline information on the performance metrics of a network is an invaluable resource for any network administrator. However, because this project would require a significant amount of time for research and manual data entry, it's likely that the task would remain at the bottom of your list because of competing priorities and problems.

Scenario #2: Baselining Performance With DS Analyzer

To create a baseline, you need to establish the start and end points for existing data (representing optimal state) to be used for comparison.

  1. First, load DS Analyzer on your server.
  2. Schedule the interval of time when you would like to take your measurements. (When a graph reflects a healthy NDS tree, it's an excellent time to establish a baseline to measure the effects of growth and changes on your network. In the future, when you suspect a problem, you can use the baseline to measure progress against optimization or problem resolution.)
  3. Click DS Analyzer's Tools | Baseline Information menu command to display the Establish Baseline dialog box. Here, you will enter the start and end points that will serve as the baseline.

DS Analyzer instantly creates an easy-to-read graph or pie chart from the traffic information it gathers. Or the data can be exported to a log file to save a record of the information.

This process takes minutes rather than hours and provides in-depth information for proactive network management. Once a baseline has been established, you can easily compare existing DS Analyzer graphs to baseline data. DS Analyzer's simple menu commands display a new window to mirror the same data as the current graph, as well as the data from the baseline time range.

All networks need solid NDS tree design in order to ensure reliable access to the services and applications that rely on the directory. Aside from good design, performance baselines can also enhance directory performance by giving you the data you need to make educated decisions about NDS. Manual data-gathering and graphing has been the traditional method of establishing a baseline; however, DS Analyzer now provides an easier, more efficient alternative to this time-intensive, manual process.

For a free evaluation copy of DS Analyzer or for more information, please visit NetPro's website at

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