The Portal Has Landed

By Drew Bird | Dec 13, 2000 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netos/article.php/625301/The-Portal-Has-Landed.htm

The NetWare Management Portal utility (NMP) included in Novell's NetWare 5.1 promises Web-based server management, but does it deliver? In this article, we will look at NMP and find out just how good a tool it is for NetWare 5.1 server management.

Loading the Portal

Loading the Portal support on the server is as easy as loading PORTAL.NLM, and unloading it is just as simple. The basic requirements to access the NMP system are a Web browser and the ability to reach the target server. The NMP is accessed by connecting to port 8009 over a secure connection. For example, if your server's IP address were 10.0.0.1, you would connect to NMP by typing:

https://10.0.0.1:8009

Accessing the portal NLM does not require that you be logged in to NetWare or authenticated to the server in any other way, which may seem a little loosebut without authentication, information can only be viewed. To access the full functionality of NMP, you must authenticate by using the Login tab on the main page. Once you are logged in, you can perform actions on the server such as disconnecting users, loading and unloading NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs), and accessing the server's file system. Only users who have Supervisor rights to the NDS server object have the ability to make changes on the server.

On the main screen (see Figure 1), the first thing that catches your eye is the traffic light server health indicator. It's a simple way of representing the current state of the server, and it lets you know whether any specific problems require further investigation. A green light, shows a healthy server, and an amber or red light indicates trouble ahead. What actually constitutes a symptom worthy of a red light is somewhat unclear; my test server showed an amber during an intentional abend, so I wouldn't want to know what kind of situation would trigger a red! Also included on the main screen is a link to Novell's Internet support site.

Figure 1: The NMP main screen.

CrossLinks

Clicking on the traffic light takes you to the Server Health Monitoring screen, which can also be accessed through the Health Monitors link from the main page. The Server Health Monitoring screen provides a breakdown of the major system areas along with a tag that displays the current state of that component as Good, Suspect, or Bad. From the Server Health Monitoring Screen, as with any other area of the NMP, you can return to the main page by clicking on the Home link in the upper-right corner of the page.

All the other areas available through NMP are accessed from the main page. They fall into seven areas. Following is a brief description of the areas and the information and functions they provide:

  • Volume ManagementLets you mount and dismount volumes and provides statistical information. Files can be deleted, renamed, or downloaded from volumes on the server as well as from the server's DOS partition.

  • Server ManagementProvides access to processor and memory information for the server, as well as a wide range of other information, such as connection information and SET parameters. Of particular note is the Current Screens option, which lets you view all the screens loaded on the server. In addition, the page for the system console screen allows commands to be executed at the server. The Down Server Options link takes you to a page from which you can choose to Down, Restart, or Reset the server. The almost comically large red buttons look amateurish, but they reinforce the fact that you really are going to perform the desired operation.

  • Application ManagementAllows you to view information about software loaded on the server, and includes the ability to sort the information by different criteria, which is a great feature. Want to know which NLM is hogging all that RAM? Just click and sort, and voila! The module names are hyperlinked to take you to an information screen that shows the module version and other related information.

  • NDS ManagementLets you navigate the NDS tree and view partition information for the server. The NDS Management tool is good, although the information is presented in a text-only display, rather than a graphical format such as the one in NetWare Administrator. Oddly, the only administrative function you can perform on NDS objects is to delete them.

  • Remote Server AccessProvides access to your current server. Also lets you link to other servers running NMP, and any other NetWare servers that are running the NetWare Remote Server Access Module.

  • Hardware ManagementAllows you to view information on the hardware devices in your server, including processor and interrupt information. One area that makes good use of the flexible browser interface is the Hardware Adapters screen (see Figure 2), which provides an easy way to view information on the disk controllers and network cards in your system.

    Figure 2: The Hardware Adapters screen.

  • Health MonitorsHas only two options: Server Health, which takes you to the same screen that is accessed when you click on the traffic light icon on the main page; and the Multiple Server Monitor, which lets you open a window from which you can access and view other NetWare servers that are running NMP.

Conclusion

NMP is a great feature, and one that I'm sure many network administrators will use. The convenience of accessing the system through a Web browser is great; even better is the way the information is presented, and the range of information that can be accessed. If you have NetWare 5.1 and have not used the NMP yet, give it a try. You might even find that it becomes your primary way of managing your NetWare server. Although it is no substitute for a full network management system, it offers advantages over the traditional MONITOR utility. //

Drew Bird (MCT, MCNI) is a freelance instructor and technical writer. He has been working in the IT industry for 12 years and currently lives in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can e-mail Drew at drew.bird@tecmetrix.com.