The problem of degraded I/O performance of storage devices due to misalignment of logical partition sectors and actual physical sectors is well known among IT professionals and rank-and-file users. Our company has been among the first to tackle this challenge by developing an elegant technology. By this moment we're offering several products based on this technology that help to do partition alignments on physical or virtual drives either from the command-line or by going through an intuitive wizard. These products can satisfy the needs of home users, small business or system builders, but not of an enterprise. Why not?
Speaking about an enterprise, we think of a bunch of servers with hundreds of workstations connected into one complex network environment. Obviously efficient management and security of this type of environment implies that all procedures are strictly regulated and are to be managed centrally. Manual accomplishment of any maintenance operation, like software update, data backup, or partition alignment on every server and workstation separately is time and resource consuming and simply dangerous to the whole business. This type of environments require something different, they need solutions with distributed architecture that involves distribution of roles among different purpose components on the net. Actually, it’s a network infrastructure that spreads over the whole computer park, where there’s always a main server, auxiliary servers, and various agents that directly accomplish particular tasks on client machines. The whole process is managed from an administration console. So the larger your enterprise, the more resources you can save by using software with distributed architecture for its management.
PAT Enterprise is designed exactly to hit the mark. It solves the problem of misaligned partitions on physical and virtual Windows® servers and workstations within complex network environments of a present-day enterprise. As a backbone it uses Paragon’s brand-new distributed architecture that allows efficient central management of hundreds of computers with the best-selling classical PAT as a core. Being obviously a product for IT personnel, it doesn’t have expected and pretty boring command-line interface that requires considerable time for studying and configuration, but a well thought-out GUI console complemented with intuitive wizards.
PAT Enterprise analyzes and then does alignment if required on all or selected machines of your computer park. The whole set of operations on target machines from installation to removal of agents and services doesn’t require participation from your side and are easily controlled real time or with automatically generated reports. For domain machines you’ve got the option to set up a notification policy to prompt you to check up for misaligned partitions by a new event in Active Directory. Target computers that need alignment of system partitions will be automatically restarted in a special boot-time mode. Alignment operations can of course be scheduled not to interrupt business processes of your company. For optimizing virtual environments hosted by VMware ESX, there’s ESX Bridge, a special agent to interact with and employ facilities of the VMware infrastructure, thus providing for much higher performance and safety of alignment operations.
Roles. Each computer that joins the infrastructure has one or several roles. A role describes the purpose of components installed on that particular machine. It’s up to the administrator to choose a role for this or that computer.There can be the following roles:
- Administration Server (the main service of the infrastructure that keeps the central database, distribute resources, solve conflicts between the others, etc.);
- Installation Server (a service that conducts deployment or update of components);
- ESX Bridge (a special agent that interacts with the VMware infrastructure and does alignment on ESX guest machines);
- Agent (a service that executes operations on all machines that join the infrastructure);
- Alignment Plug-in (provides Agent with facilities to execute alignment operations on physical machines).
Policies. In PAT Enterprise no action can be done without creating a corresponding policy. There are service and user policies. Service policies are created automatically by PAT Server by an event, for instance when adding new target machines to the infrastructure. The administrator can only create and manage user policies.
PAT Console. PAT Enterprise actually includes two consoles, one GUI and one command-line. Both serve for administering the infrastructure. PAT consoles don’t acquire a role in the infrastructure and can be installed on several computers on the net, providing the so called dynamic site management.
- Central management from one dynamic site - you can use any computer, even out of the infrastructure at all
- Close integration with the VMware ESX infrastructure to optimize virtual machines with much higher performance and safety
- Required components and prerequisites are deployed automatically to remote machines according to the selected role(s)
- Job-oriented management - you assign one job to one or many clients at a time
- Offline operation of agents on target machines even when the network connection is out for some reason
- Central database that contains information on any event happened within the infrastructure
- Operation performance and stability
- Close integration with MS Active Directory
- A Windows domain environment (since XP SP3)
- Administrator credentials
- WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) service is running
- Open TCP ports: 135, 18950, 60543, or disabled Firewalls on all computers
- File and Printer Sharing is allowed in Firewall, which enables default system shares on local volumes (ADMIN$, C$, D$, etc.)
- “Simple file sharing” should be off on Windows XP machines and vice versa on Windows Vista and later