The Windows Server Notebook

Jun 9 2009   8:16PM GMT

Change management solution simplifies AD operations

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

I spoke recently with a rep over at Netwrix to get some details on their Change Reporter solution for Active Directory (currently in version 5.0).

For those who don’t know, Netwrix as a company is partly focused on simplifying change management of, well, pretty much everything. This includes separate Change Reporter solutions for Exchange and SQL Server, System Center Virtual Machine Manager and VMware Infrastructure 3, each of which are designed to answer four questions:

Netwrix Active Directory Change Reporter

    1. What’s being changed?
    2. Who is making the change?
    3. When is the change being made?
    4. Where is the change taking place?

Focusing on the AD tool though, the idea is basically to simplify the process of keeping track of/communicating changes made to Active Directory, which can get pretty complicated when multiple people are managing AD, not to mention all of the delegation that usually goes on.

Change Reporter is designed to help admins and IT managers ensure that all changes to AD are authorized through – you guessed it – reports. These are sent via email every day with details on every change/edit that has been made to Active Directory. This includes changes to OUs, AD schema, distribution groups – literally everything. One user I spoke with confirmed this, saying that at times the tool even reports too much information, such as details on when print queues have been created or deleted. He stressed, however, that this is a relatively minor criticism when compared to the wealth of info presented by the product along with its easy-to-read reports.

Everything comes out-of-the-box, which is cool, and it’s free — sort of. There are actually two versions of Change Reporter – the freeware edition (which can be used in production environments to start) and the commercial edition (which as you might expect, is more robust). I won’t bother getting into all of the details of each, as Netwrix provides a table that clearly lays out what each version has to offer. One thing to be aware of though that I learned from a Netwrix customer is that while the free version of Change Reporter tells you what has been changed, you’ll need to upgrade to the commercial version to find out who made it.

The other big difference, naturally, is price. The commercial version starts at $2.50 per user account, with site licenses also available.

What’s interesting is that Active Directory Change Reporter as a standalone solution is not long for this world. Netwrix is currently working on a solution that will integrate all of its change management products (Exchange, SQL Server, etc.) into one console. This is expected to replace the current smaller features and create a “single point of management” for organizations (simply dubbed Netwrix Change Reporter).

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