Microsoft last week announced a version of its BackOffice suite that makes it easier to centrally manage remote office servers.
One of BackOffice 4.5's new components, dubbed Server Manager, is an administrative interface that provides a single point of control for managing the rest of the applications in BackOffice. Server Manager ships with four standard console views, which give entry-level help desk technicians, Web administrators, branch administrators and central IT administrators the tools they need to do their jobs. Each console view can be customised to incorporate in-house or third-party management tools.
BackOffice 4.5 includes scripts that can be used to automate the deployment of multiple remote servers. Administrators can establish a standard server configuration script that can then be pushed to servers across multiple offices.
Users working with the beta applauded Microsoft's efforts to simplify remote deployment.
Carnival Cruise Lines is moving from Novell NetWare and Lotus cc:Mail to the BackOffice suite on 15 of its ships. System support manager John Masseria says preliminary tests show that Microsoft's new deployment tools will cut the amount of time needed to set up a BackOffice server from six days to one.
"The automation also helps us ensure the accuracy of how we configure each server," Masseria says. "Before we had someone maintain a checklist as each configuration was established. Now we can configure once and be assured that all the settings are propagated accurately."
BackOffice 4.5 comprises the latest releases of server components, including SQL Server 7.0, Systems Management Server 2.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 4. Other BackOffice 4.5 components are Internet Information Server 4.0, Transaction Server 2.0, Message Queue Server 1.0, Exchange Server 5.5, Proxy Server 2.0, SNA Server 4.0 and Site Server 3.0.
With BackOffice 4.5 - which is available in beta now - Microsoft is seeking to present the suite of Windows NT server applications as an integrated package. The BackOffice suite has traditionally been viewed by users as merely a cost-effective way to purchase multiple Microsoft applications, with little emphasis on integration among the components.