Hyena: Easy Windows Management that’s even easier on your pocket

I broke into the IT game at a time when the word budget didn't exist for the IT department. A time when team lunches and shiatsu massages where the norm. Yes, it was an error...I mean... era now long gone. An era some know as the dot-com days. At that time, managing a network meant buying all sorts of administrative tools that would do all the things NT could not. Well the team lunches gave way to lay-offs, the massages were replaced by cuts in bonuses, and ultimately I went from 50,000 shares in the upcoming IPO to "how am I going to pay what I owe?"

Well I survived and moved into the more stable arena of public accounting and finance. I was hired on as the director of IT and was assured of the company's commitment to innovative technology tools. That was, of course, as long as it cost less than $500 for an enterprise license. Well long gone were the days of using SMS and OpenView. I had to seek alternatives to the often-costly solutions offered by Microsoft and other third-party vendors.

In my tenure as IT director, I became somewhat of an expert at finding cost efficient and feature rich applications, utilities, and tools to run our enterprise. One of my favorite management tools actually stood the test of time and evolved just as quickly and efficiently as our enterprise. I'm talking about System Tools Hyena, now in version 7.2

Hyena is a full server and workstation administration tool that integrates with Active Directory. I started out with Hyena 4.5 when I walked into a Windows NT 4.0 environment. Management of the network was much easier with Hyena in my corner. As an added bonus, I could mange my Exchange 5.5 Mailboxes as well. This included creating and deleting mailboxes on the Exchange Server.

What was amazing to me is the amount of control and flexibility I had with one tool and the cost for a single administrator was (and still is) negligible at $199 for a standard license and $269 for the enterprise version. Right up the alley of my current employers. As Jack Benny used to say "cute and cheap." Within six months I moved to Windows 2000 and Active Directory (AD), Hyena moved right along with me. This allowed me the ability to manage AD easily from my desktop. Two years later when we moved to Windows 2003 again Hyena, moved along with us. The ability to manage Terminal Services, and the System Tools Remote Control Manager, became useful for my team of two IT professionals supporting three offices and 125 employees.

Aside from handling the functions of creating new users and integration with Exchange, (later versions integrated with Exchange 2000/2003). Hyena has several built in administrative extras. These include viewing and managing:

  • Printers
  • Shares
  • Services
  • Devices
  • Event logs
  • Performance Monitors
  • Scheduled Jobs
  • Users Rights
  • Registry (Local Machine, Classes Root and Users hives)
  • WMI

Additionally, you can view disk space, open files, sessions, FSMO roles, account policies, audit policies, and even view and edit organization units and group policies. This is only a short list of the things you can do with Hyena.

The beauty of Hyena is the logically designed simple interface. Using the familiar Windows Explorer tree view Hyena presents the admin with the local machine, the enterprise branch, and the domain branch. 

Settings allow you to customize the amount of information that is displayed for items such as Terminal Server information; Performance Options and Focus (objects), i.e. print jobs, users, groups, and group members. This is particularly beneficial when dealing with networks that have limited bandwidth such as satellite offices.

Going beyond viewing and management, Hyena has a remote control tool that uses the familiar VNC viewer to control servers or workstations. Exporter Pro allows you to create simple reports that can be useful for the Network Admin. Add to this the free tools that System Tools offer which can be integrated into Hyena. And you have a powerful inexpensive IT Management tool.

Now before it sounds like the "IT wonder application," it needs to be said that you will still need to load the Windows and Exchange Admin tools onto your desktop to take full advantage of all the functionality available. In addition, administrative functions such as Sites and Services, Domains and Trusts, DNS and DHCP management still need to take place from the server. Yes, other packages such as NETIQ and Microsoft's Systems Center Manager Suites provide even more advanced management functionality. However, these come with a price tag that some employers are not willing to pay. System Tools Hyena provides an easy to learn and affordable alternative to Microsoft's built - in Admin tools as well as more costly solutions provided by both Microsoft and other third party vendors.

System Tools offers a free 30-day trial of Hyena, which is a full working 30-day demo. If you are in the same situation I used to be in, working for a company with deep pockets and short arms, this is a tool worth checking out. You'll be surprised at all that comes in that little 3MB download.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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