We are really pleased to announce that Ensim Unify Enterprise has been chosen by Intel® to provide user provisioning and application management software for the Intel AppUp(sm) Small Business Service - previously known as Hybrid Cloud.
The AppUp Small Business Service product is built atop Windows Server 2008 and Windows Small Business Server 2008, where Ensim Unify provides automated, role-based user provisioning and application management services for Windows Server (Active Directory), SharePoint, and Microsoft Exchange, as well as advanced group management capabilities for both security groups and Exchange distribution lists.
Its great technology and it can be a real life saver for small businesses that want to reap the cost and efficiency benefits of cloud computing but keep the server and data securely on site. The concept is actually pretty simple: you purchase a system and get a locally hosted server and software on a pay-as-you-go (monthly subscription) basis, allowing smaller businesses to pay per user. That way, you only pay for the users you actually have. No more guessing at the capacity you might need in the future and always ending up with either too much or too little.
At the same time, managed service providers (MSP) could potentially offer hundreds of these systems on a very cost effective basis to its smaller customers with the Ensim Unify control panel managing these systems individually and in aggregate. These MSP’s will find the combination of Intel technology with Ensim Unify’s provisioning and management capabilities pre-installed offers significant advantages that reduce overhead, improve ROI, and increase customer retention and satisfaction.
- You can read the official Ensim press release by clicking here.
- You can read the official Intel press release here.
- You can visit the AppUp Small Business Service site here.
- You can learn more about Ensim Unify Managed Edition here.
- You can learn more about Ensim Unify Enterprise here.
We are pleased to announce that we received a 4.5 out of 5 rating for our Audit Manager product in a recent evaluation performed by Windows IT Pro® magazine. You can learn more about Audit Manager by clicking here - but essentially Audit Manager gives IT administrators an auditing solution specifically designed to work with Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. The goal is to make it simple to discover, analyze, and report any changes made to the Active Directory.
In the review, Penton Media’s Windows IT Pro editor Eric B. Rux said, “Unify Audit Manager is extremely simple to set up, and the product uses functionality that’s already built into Server 2008. The queries are easy to master, and the information that systems administrators, security analysts, or pesky auditors need is right at your fingertips. And at only $5 a user, it’s affordable for even a small company.” (Click to read the full review). We are, of course, very pleased with the review.
2011 should prove to be an exciting year. Enterprise 3.0 has been released and it offers a host of new features and performance enhancements to give our customers increased flexibility and for managing core IT resources. New and enhanced functionality includes approval workflows, enhanced user naming conventions, support for a variety of new high-availability scenarios, multi-role assignment capabilities, and much more.
Giving organizations the ability to design their own approval workflows has always been important. With 3.0 we added a powerful new framework built on Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF). This gives us the ability to offer a full in-process workflow capability that can be used to configure just about any operation that requires approval before it is executed. We pride ourselves on our ability to automate just about any complex IT task when it comes to provisioning and management, but there are times when someone must approve a particular task and 3.0 provides that flexibility to business process folks in just about every complex scenario you can imagine.
We are pleased to announce that Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) has named Ensim Unify Service Provider Edition as a recipient of a 2009 Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award. Its always great when another organization as well respected as TMC notices what you are doing publicly with an award. You can view the 2009 Award Winners here.
A bit of background on the award: the Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award recognizes the vision, leadership, and thoroughness of the most innovative products and services. Ensim is proud to be chosen as winners of the Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award.
The test parameters were pretty straightforward - running through five typical administration tasks that the build-in Microsoft tools (ADUC) either don’t do or don’t do very well. Those tasks were “user provisioning (e.g., AD, Exchange, BlackBerry, ERP), Exchange provisioning (e.g., data store based on last name/department), delegation of duties, user de-provisioning a user (e.g., scramble username, reset password, remove from external system), and reporting for audits.” These represent a good cross section of tasks that can become very time consuming in medium and larger organizations.
Eric notes that the four products have similar methods for helping you streamline the process of provisioning new users. If every new user needs to be a member of an ERP Application global group, for example. Another common example of user provisioning is integration with an HR database. AD is often populated with data from an HR database. This can work in one direction or in both directions depending on the requirements.
Of course we were thrilled with his Recomendation:
If you need provisioning outside of Active Directory that includes BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Exchange 2007 or 2003, Google Apps, and Microsoft Office Communication Server (OCS), look no further.
Most people would be amazed at how often this happens. Many senior system administrators have probably already been through it - that accidental deletion of an organizational unit (OU) in Active Directory. It can be accidental fat finger where someone is in the process of deleting a single user and accidentally deletes the whole OU.
The people that have been through it are cringing right now remembering when it happened. The ones it has not happened to are in blissful denial. You can hear them saying: 0ur people are seasoned pro’s, no one makes those kind of mistakes, it can’t happen here, we have trained people, we have procedures to prevent that, that will never happen to us… However, the truth remains that at some time in your IT career, more than likely, you’ll have this unfortunate experience. Hopefully, just once.
As Jan De Clercq notes in his post “How can I protect Active Directory (AD) objects such as organizational units (OUs) from accidental deletion by administrators?” it’s pretty difficult to UNDO this mistake. It usually means some restructuring etc. It also seems to us that trying to protect objects on an individual level could get cumbersome, but that approach is better than hoping nothing goes wrong.
This is why we stress protecting AD on a programatic basis using your existing policies. This is the only way you will truly save your active directory from “unauthorized” changes. Additionally, it will open up a host of time saving and more secure options for operations like the provisioning / de-provisioning process - things like eliminating orphan accounts etc. More on that later…
We still see a fair number of organizations using scripts to automate the IT processes including management of Active Directory (AD). This is often the first line of defense when using the native interfaces for user management becomes too time-consuming or too much of a security risk when the established procedures (if they exist) are not being followed.
In the right circumstances and with the right skills, scripts can help IT cover specific tasks. A couple of questions to take into consideration:
- Do the scripts have error checking?
- Do the scripts produce audit trails that will satisfy compliance requirements?
- Scripts need to run on each server - are they all the same version?
- Have they been adequately tested?
- If a script fails, does it have a recovery process that can back-out changes?
- If you upgrade the applications, do the scripts have to be rewritten?
- Do you understand the scripts well enough to revise them if the person who originally wrote them leaves?
- Are the programming skills of the administrative staff at the right level for the task?
These are just a few things to consider. There are some great scripting languages out there. PowerShell is certainly one. Depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of your requirements, scripts can solve certain set of problems. This assumes your group has the time to code and maintain them. On the other hand, if you have specific policies to implement, audit/compliance requirements, and a fairly dynamic user base, the do-it-yourself approach may not be the best option. If that’s the case, you might want to consider a solution that was designed from the ground up to solve these problems.
With the beta release of Exchange 14 (officially Exchange 2010), the migration drumbeat has begun. However, strategy sessions in many organizations are coming up with more questions than answers.
Noting that these larger players often have existing investments in OCS (some with LCS), SharePoint, and Exchange (2003 and 2007), they are looking at how this migration will affect other collaboration applications as well as the management overhead required by newer, feature-rich versions of these favorites. Of the organizations still on Exchange 2003, many are reviewing the idea of embracing cloud services and are considering offerings from both Google and Microsoft for certain groups of users. Additional complexity comes from teams that would like to see tighter telephony integration - the unified communications (UC) approach. Planning for UC implementations have always required longer timelines and application level expertise.
We are experts in all these types of implementations and have a long history of supplying management tools designed to address just these types of complex implementations. If your organization is considering any of these options, please don’t hesitate to let us know. I’m certain we can help.
We frequently hear from prospects that say its taking longer and longer to deploy more complex collaboration applications. Office Communications Server (OCS) is a good example of this. Compared with LCS (Live Communications Server), OCS is a much more complex deployment. Its easy to underestimate the deployment time after you’ve paid for the licenses.
Because of the complexity and robustness of the new features with OCS in particular , IT organizations find themselves going through long cycles trying to figure out provisioning and configuration management issues before they can begin deployment to employees. In large organizations (often regulated), managing these big new applications with native tools is practically impossible. Native application management interfaces take a “one-size-fits-all” approach is just not feasible for medium and larger organizations.
This is where a good provisioning and access control system like Ensim Unify can be a huge advantage. As a management overlay, this system allows rapid integration of existing policies and processes. Roles are quickly defined based on IT policy, allowing specific capabilities to be delivered to appropriate individuals.
Resource pools are quickly identified and assigned to end users based on geographical location, service requirements or other criteria defined by business rules.
This saves countless hours of IT time, puts the application in the hands of the users more quickly, minimizes downside security and deployment risks, and (just as important) puts those dollars spent on software licenses to use more quickly.