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Norton 2000 eases Y2K checks

Norton 2000 eases Y2K checks

As we approach the last day of the 20th century, the rush to ensure that corporate computer systems are year-2000 compliant will become more and more frenetic for those who haven't already finished this tedious but crucial task. Tracking which versions of which programs on which computers may have a year-2000 compliance issue can be an IT management nightmare, especially at this late stage. Fortunately, Norton 2000 - the easiest to use of the year-2000 compliance checkers I've seen - has just emerged in a new version that offers the kind of centralised database capabilities required by large shops.

The new capabilities in Version 2.0 of Norton 2000 Corporate Edition include a more robust method for managing logged data at the enterprise level; a utility called Fix Assistant specifically designed for correcting year-2000 problems in Excel spreadsheet files; and the capability to scan compressed files, whether on local hard drives, network drives, or floppy disks.

As with the previous version of Norton 2000, Version 2.0 scans not just applications, but also computer BIOS and data files for year-2000 compliance. The program doesn't fix the problems in most cases, but it does locate and report the problems so you can take care of them. Just as important, Norton 2000 gives you detailed control over what is scanned, how it is scanned, and how it is reported.

Scanning an individual system couldn't be simpler, because Norton 2000's scan wizard guides users through the process of scanning BIOS, applications, and data files. Alternatively, you can launch Norton 2000 through the N2K Agent, a command-line executable that can be used to run the program remotely across a network. Bear in mind that the syntax for N2K Agent operations can be a bit involved, but a qualified system administrator shouldn't find them too daunting.

Enterprise system administrators will appreciate the high degree of control Norton 2000 offers over the scanning process. For data files, which have a reputation as being susceptible to year-2000 problems, you can specify whether spreadsheet and database files will also be scanned for embedded Visual Basic and the range of dates that should be reported. In the case of database files, the number of records in the file that should be scanned can also be specified. You can also indicate the severity level of a problem that should trigger a report.

The Fix Assistant will scan a specified spreadsheet and either make automatic fixes or walk you through manually, fixing suspect cell entries. If you select the automatic mode, you'll be prompted for information about how Fix Assistant should handle suspect entries, and all changes will be applied automatically.

Applications are scanned and compared to Norton 2000's list of applications that are not year-2000 compliant. This list is frequently updated, and you can bring Norton 2000 up to date using Symantec's slick LiveUpdate feature. The hands-off program update can be performed via dial-up to the LiveUpdate server or across the Web. If you have a dedicated Internet connection and subscribe to Symantec's LiveUpdate Pro, you can receive updates automatically.

Once the scans have been run, Norton 2000 offers an attractively designed interface for viewing the resulting log files. Clicking on any of three buttons - System Date Test, Application Scan, or Data File Scan - will summon the appropriate log data.

With this version you can sort the output from data-file scans by the severity of the problem, which is particularly helpful with large log files. Recognising that too much information can sometimes be a bad thing, Norton 2000 also lets you set the program to deliver a condensed version of the log. This allows you to quickly focus in on problem areas. The only real drawback I found to Norton 2000's logs was the fact that the program offers no way to open saved log files. To do so, you must open them with a text editor.

Version 2.0 also offers a more robust solution for managing logged data at the enterprise level. While Norton 2000 creates a separate log file for each computer scanned, the bundled Norton 2000 Database - which runs on top of Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 or 7.0 - combines the individually created log files into a centralised database that you can query to generate enterprise-wide reports of year-2000 compliance. You can set it up to automatically check a specified location for log files generated by the N2K agent. Configuring Norton 2000 Database to work with SQL Server is a tad complicated, but once you've set things up properly, you'll have a hands-off system for automatic compliance-data collection.

Checking made easy

Because Norton 2000 Corporate Edition is highly focused on year-2000 compliance checking, there are a few features it doesn't provide. For example, it doesn't identify frequently used programs the way WRQ's Express 2000 Software Manager does, and the only actual year-2000 fixes the program implements are for BIOS.

Still, if your goal is to specifically check selected computers, applications and data files for year-2000 compliance, Norton 2000 Corporate Edition 2.0 offers a solution that is extremely easy to configure and use. Its enhanced database tools make the solution a much more viable one for larger enterprises.

The bottom line ****

Norton 2000 Corporate Edition 2.0

Summary: This version of the Norton 2000 Corporate Edition year-2000 compliance checker offers centralised database tools that make it attractive to enterprise-level shops in the last stages of preparing for the year-2000 rollover.

Business Case: Norton 2000 Corporate Edition 2.0 offers a relatively low-cost insurance policy against lost productivity caused by applications and computers not year-2000 compliant. Its high ease of use means that administrators will be able to scan systems and generate reports quickly and efficiently.

Pros:

Remote scanning

Enhanced centralised database

Scans compressed files

Cons:

No monitoring of application usage

Only has command-line interface for remote executionLog file opened with text editorPlatforms: Windows 3.x, Windows 95/98, Windows NT 3.51 or later.

Cost: $US54 per node for a 100-user licence.

Symantec

http://www.symantec.com


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