Product Review: Hyena
February 5, 2002
by Ryan Smith
Hyena is a systems management tool that enables administrators to manage just about every aspect of multiple Windows NT/2000 domains, servers, workstations, groups and users from one convenient Explorer-like interface. In this product review, I will cover some of the features of Hyena and offer my viewpoint on this product.
(From the Hyena Help file)
Hyena brings together all of the administrative tools from Windows NT such as User Manager, Server Manager, and File Manager/Explorer, and many of the MMC components from Windows 2000 into a single, easy-to-use, centralized program. Hyena arranges all system objects, such as users, servers, and groups, in a hierarchical tree for easy and logical system administration.
Handling aspects of User Management appears to be Hyena's forte. Hyena has many of the standard features that you would expect to find such as modifying single and multiple user properties, resetting passwords, enabling/disabling users, renaming users, deleting single or multiple users and more. An excellent feature that I enjoy is the capability to integrate Exchange mailbox properties (using the Enterprise Edition) into Hyena. This allows you to add/modify/delete Exchange mailbox specifics from inside of Hyena itself, no need to launch Exchange Admin.
However, the most used feature that I've gotten from User Management would have to be the capability to create new users using what's called Home Directory Templates. Home Directory Templates allow you to create a user, choosing a template when you create them that not only creates the user account, but also automatically creates the users home directory, assigns specific permissions to that user account and any others you designate and creates the share directory as well as assigning permissions to the share. So basically, with one simple click of creating a user in Hyena using a Home Directory Template, you can create the user account, the Exchange mailbox, the user's physical home directory on a server, the share associated with that directory and assign permissions to both the physical directory and the share! Talk about a time saver! With Hyena alone, you just eliminated to need for User Manager for Domains, Windows Explorer, Exchange Admin and Server Manager! In addition, you can have as many Home Directory Templates as you want to create, one for each specific need that you have. For instance, we have three different servers users could have home directories on, therefore, I use three different Home Directory Templates, one for each server. It's an amazing time saver, plus it ensures consistency every single time we create users, since we all use the same Home Directory Templates.
With everything Hyena can do for User Management, it amazingly doesn't skimp on Server Management. Hyena provides several different ways to view computers, whether in domains, in workgroups, or in user-defined groups. Hyena can also filter domain lists by specific computer type (for example, Terminal Servers only), and can distinguish between computers that are online vs. added to the domain computer listing. Hyena can manage account, audit policy, and user rights settings on remote computers. You can view all active sessions and open files for any server and it even gives you the capability to shutdown and optionally reboot any computer or server. In addition, an administrator can perform a shutdown/reboot on multiple computers at the same time. The majority of the remaining features are essentially subsets of server management, such as Service Monitoring, Event Management, Task and Job Scheduling, and Disk and File Administration.
Service Monitoring and Control
Hyena gives you the capability to remotely start/stop/restart services on multiple machines at the same time. In addition, you can change service properties and startup information, including passwords on multiple computers at once. One feature that I find myself using more and more is the capability to view service dependencies, which indicates what other services that particular service is dependent upon to start. It's a great help when troubleshooting services that fail to start on their own.
Event Management through Hyena consists of both integrating with the Windows NT/2000 native Event Viewer and MMC, or using Hyena's own event viewing application. Using Hyena's event viewer allows you to filter events by date/time range, event ID, event type, category, description text, user/group, or source. The primary benefit that I've seen with Hyena's event viewer is the capability to view event logs of multiple computers together. For example, if you have 20 servers, you can view the security logs of all 20 servers together, filtered for login attempts and sorted by time. It's a very handy and fast way to get a quick overview of all of your event logs without manually looking at each individual log.
Job and Task Scheduling
One of the major problems I've always had with Windows NT/2000 is the difficulty involved with viewing remotely scheduled jobs. I'm not saying it's not possible, it's just not what I would consider easy. With Hyena, it's easy. You can view all scheduled jobs on one or more computers at the same time and it will detect if it was schduled via the AT interface or Windows Task Scheduler. Obviously, you can add, modify or delete any scheduled jobs on one or multiple computers. In addition, by copying a job from one server to another you can quickly move scheduled jobs around.
Coming from an old Novell Netware background (yes, I was a CNA back on Netware 3.x, go figure) I miss having a PCONSOLE type tool. NT/2000 never gave me the warm fuzzies with its capability to remotely manage printers that (incredibly) Netware did. Once again, Hyena remedies that situation. The capabilities to view all print jobs from one or more printers at the same time (complete with an auto refresh!), full print job controls such as pause, resume, restart and cancel and full printer controls such as pause, resume and purge all print jobs from one single interface finally gives me the capability to control printers I've been wanting since the old PCONSOLE days!
Disk and File Administration
Hyena supports standard disk and file operations such as moving, deleting, and copying files and directories. In addition, Hyena has a fantastic Disk Space Management feature that allows you to view disk space information across multiple computers at the same time, giving you a very fast overview of disk space (or lack thereof) on every server on your network.
In addition to Disk and File Administration, Hyena supports share administration as well including creating, modifying and removing shares on any NT/2000 computer, browsing shares, modifying share permissions, viewing connections to a share and copying share definitions from one computer to another (very useful when migrating to a new server).
Reporting options with Hyena is limited to three main options. Exporting, Access-based Reporting and Clipboard. Exporting allows Hyena to use its own Exporter tool to output delimited text output files of computers, users, groups, printers, shares, services, and disk space. Hyena also includes 18 built-in Microsoft Access reports that cover many different areas of user, group, share, file access, events, and disk space. Lastly, Hyena can also copy any selected information directly to Window's clipboard, for simple and fast pasting into other applications, including Active Directory information. Clipboard is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest methods of getting output from Hyena.
Active Directory Integration
Beginning with version 4.0, Hyena provides full support for Active Directory Organizational Units, directory searching, universal groups, and other AD mixed and native mode features.
Organizational Units (OUs) are fully supported, both for browsing OU contents, as well as for creating new users, groups, and computer objects directly into an OU. A powerful Find feature is available for any OU, allowing selectable criteria for finding and filtering AD information.
I've been using Hyena for close to two years now, and it's nice to see how Hyena has grown to support Windows 2000 and Active Directory. Hyena is a dymanic product -- it can expand to support the changes/development from Microsoft of their OS's/Active Directory.
Hyena is a very solid application that has quite a strong following of administrators. I've seen firsthand for close to two years how much of a timesaver Hyena is and I know that when I need to check the status of a server somewhere on the network, the first tool that I load is Hyena. It gives me the capability to check the status, event logs, disk space and much, much more all from one easy to use interface. The Home Directory Template capability alone is easily enough to justify the cost of Hyena to management.