Interview with a School Administrator

 Javelina Software: Hi Michael, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule for an interview. You have been a customer with us since we first started engineering Active Directory (AD) tools and a consistent user of ADtoolkit. So tell me what functions of ADtoolkit help you the most in your day to day work as a Network Administrator?

Michael Miller: I use ADtoolkit in 3 general ways: mass account creation, routine maintenance and specialized reporting. Since we're an educational institution we have a new class of students arriving every fall. ADtoolkit pays for itself every year by allowing fast and efficient mass creation of AD accounts for the incoming students. We setup the accounts, passwords, home directories, security and email group membership in one operation.

Then we use the randomly generated password file with a word processor program to create a custom letter for each new student. What used to take us several man-days can now be done in about an hour. I always use ADtoolkit to remove user accounts, too. It's very efficient to remove entries in groups and home directories as well as delete the account in a single operation. I will from time to time generate an ADtoolkit report for a large group of users or computers. Like most IT groups, we always hear when someone new needs an account or has a new computer. But we sometimes don't hear when someone leaves or an old computer is taken offline. The ADtoolkit reports help me spot inactive accounts. There also may be some issues that arise where I need to identify a certain, small set of computers or users. I take advantage of the ability to modify the ADtoolkit reports to efficiently locate the objects of interest.

JS: Can you tell me of a time where ADtoolkit saved your day?

MM: Yes, just recently! This University as a whole and our College in particular are in the process of changing domain names. In theory, it's not too difficult to modify the Exchange Recipient policies for users and distribution groups to add a second domain name. I did this and thought I was done preparing the email system for the future domain name. Then I discovered that someone had not always followed S.O.P. and had occasionally exempted a user account or distribution group from the Exchange policies. These exempted objects were not ready for the domain name change! How could I find these exempted objects? ADtoolkit to the rescue! I modified an ADtookit report to add a column for the AD attribute msExchPoliciesExcluded. Ran the reoprt and sorted on the column. Bingo! I quickly located a few user accounts and distribution groups that needed to be "repaired" for the domain name change.

JS: That's awesome! We always love to hear it when users take advantage of the ability to customize reports to their needs. Feedback like yours is very valuable to us. In fact, you have requested an enhancement to our product in the past correct? Can you tell me of that experience?

MM: I had suggested a "clone user" function. The departments' office personnel and accountants usually have access rights for numerous shares and membership in several email groups. When a new person arrives, the new user account request usually says something like "make this account just like Sally Jones' account". The clone user functionality was added to the newer version of ADtoolkit.

JS: Since you first started using ADtoolkit, have you discovered any new functionality that you’ve taken advantage of?

MM: I mostly have used the ADtoolkit reports in the the way they came "out of the box." These are well thought out and often work just fine. But as the years go by, I've learned that the ability to modify the reports (remove a column of non-interest or add a column of interest) makes my work even more efficient. I need to do far less editing when passing on the report data to non-IT type people (e.g. just include the user account CN, not the DN in the report data). I'm sure there's much more functionality to discover in ADtoolkit. There are buttons I haven't even tried yet!

JS: Thank you again for taking the time to share your experiences with us and other users. We appreciate your partnership! Your feedback has been very valuable to us and keeps us on our toes seeking new ways to improve our AD tools.