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AD migration tool leads admins out of the forest

Aelita Software says it has developed a tool that helps eliminate one of the most painful parts of the Active Directory migration process: moving from one forest to another. Think of it as a way to see the forest for the trees.

Aelita Software Corp. said this week it has developed a tool that helps eliminate one of the most painful parts of the Active Directory migration process.

The software, called the Enterprise Migration Manager (EMM), helps customers spin off an Active Directory domain from one forest and add it to another. The desire for a business to move a domain is natural in many situations, including mergers and acquisitions, when companies frequently must divorce themselves from or add a new division.

The current version of Active Directory is lacking when it comes offering administrators that ability to make changes, said Howard Marks, CEO at Networks Are Our Lives, a Hoboken, N.J., consulting firm. Customers who are setting up their initial Active Directories make hundreds of decisions, among them choosing names for domains. Once they have made those decisions they are, for the most part, committed to them.

At Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, a Fishersville, Va., teaching hospital, a tool such as this would have made it easier for the center to join its Active Directory infrastructure with that of its parent organization. The hospital is in the process of merging forests with the parent agency.

"If we wanted to restructure our domain, it would be disruptive to our users," said Steven Conley, an engineering manager at the hospital. "During our planning and testing for our migration, this tool might have given us more options."

The coming Windows Server 2003 release does include some ability to rename domains, which makes using Active Directory slightly more flexible. But Microsoft's ability to "prune and graft" domains is limited, unlike other directories on the market, Marks said. Today, if a company sells a division that is one domain, the entire domain has to be recreated, Marks said.

"Now something that used to be impossible isn't," Marks said.

Ratmir Timashev, the CEO and president of Columbus, Ohio-based Aelita, said companies choose to change their Active Directory structure for reasons beyond merger and acquisition activity. They often wish to clean up their initial implementation or optimize it for business reasons, which can include internal company restructuring. Occasionally, companies want to restructure to create separation of various divisions for security reasons.

Timashev said the software can do most types of Active Directory redesign, including between or within forests, as well as between organizational units and domains.

The software is available now and sells for about $10 to $16 per Active Directory user account. The cost includes the first year of support and maintenance. The software has a project management interface from which administrators direct all actions.


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