The Management History feature is designed to help promptly investigate what changes were recently made to directory data, as well as when it was done and by whom. As such, this feature is not intended for data change auditing nor is it intended to explore large volumes of data changes that occurred during a long period of time. For this reason, in addition to the Management History feature, Active Roles provides a suite of reports for change tracking and auditing, which is part of the Active Roles Report Pack. Each of these options: Management History and Report Pack, has its own advantages and limitations. Follow the recommendations in this section to choose the one that best suits your needs.
You can use the Management History feature to examine changes that were made to directory data via Active Roles. The feature is designed to help you answer the following typical questions:
- Who made the most recent changes to a given user or group object?
- Who modified a given user or group object during the last X days?
- What changes were made to a given user object last night (yesterday, the day before)?
- Have any planned modifications of a given user or group object actually been performed?
- What objects did a given delegated administrator modify during the last X days?
You can instantly access Management History whenever you need to quickly investigate or troubleshoot a problem that results from inappropriate modifications of directory data.
Management History includes a dedicated repository to store information about data changes, referred to as the Change Tracking log, and GUI to retrieve and display information from that repository. No additional actions, such as collecting or consolidating information, are required to build Management History results.
However, the advantages of the Management History feature also entail some limitations. Before you use the Management History feature, consider the following recommended best practices and limitations of using this feature.
The main factor to consider is the size of the Change Tracking log. To ensure real-time update of the log on all Administration Services, the log is normally stored in the Active Roles configuration database. This imposes some limitations on the log size.
By default, the Change Tracking log is configured to store information about changes that occurred within last 30 days. If you increase this setting, do it carefully; otherwise, you may encounter the following problems:
- Excessive increase in the log size significantly increases the time required to build and display Change History and User Activity results.
- As the log size grows, so does the size of the configuration database. This considerably increases the time required to back up and restore the database, and causes high network traffic replicating the database when you join an additional Administration Service to Active Roles replication.
- The GUI is not suitable to represent large volumes of Management History results in a manageable fashion. Since there is no filtering or paging capabilities, it may be difficult to sort through the results.
To address these limitations, Active Roles gives you a different means for change auditing, change-tracking reports, included with the Active Roles Report Pack. These reports are designed to help answer the following questions:
- What management tasks were performed on a given object within a certain period of time?
- What management tasks were performed on a given object during the object’s entire life time?
- When was a certain attribute of a given object modified?
Change-tracking reports are based on data collected from event logs. A separate log is stored on each computer running the Administration Service, and each log only contains events generated by one Administration Service. Therefore, to use reports, the events from all event logs need to be consolidated to form a complete audit trail.
The process of consolidating events, referred to as the data collection process, is performed by a separate Active Roles component—Collector. With the Collector wizard, you can configure and execute data collection jobs, and schedule them to run on a regular basis.
The main limitation of change-tracking reports is the fact that the information needs to be collected and consolidated in a separate database before you can build the reports. The data collection process exhibits the following disadvantages:
- Collecting data may be a very lengthy operation and the database size may grow unacceptable when collecting all events that occurred within a long period of time in a large environment.
- Collecting data is impossible over slow WAN links. This limitation is inherent to the Active Roles component intended to collect data for reporting.
The configuration of Management History includes the following elements:
- Change-tracking Policy Builds the data pertinent to history of changes made to directory objects, and specifies what changes are to be included in the reports on change history and user activity.
- Change Tracking Log Configuration Specifies how many change requests are to be stored in the log.
- Replication of Management History Data Specifies whether to synchronize Management History data between Administration Services that use different databases.
The behavior of the Management History feature is defined by the policy held in the build-in Policy Object called Built-in Policy - Change Tracking. The policy determines the object types and properties for which to gather the management history information.
To view or modify the policy, display the Properties dialog box for the Built-in Policy - Change Tracking Policy Object (located in container Configuration/Policies/Administration/Builtin), go to the Policies tab, select the policy, and click View/Edit. This displays the Policy Properties dialog box. The Object Types and Properties in that dialog box lists the object types and properties included in Management History. Each entry in the list includes the following information:
- Object Type If an object of this type is modified via Active Roles, information about that action is recorded in the Change Tracking log on condition that the modification affects a property specified in the Properties column.
- Properties Information about changes to these properties is recorded in the Change Tracking log.
You can manage the list on the tab by using the buttons beneath the list:
- Add Displays the dialog box where you can select the object type and properties you want to include in Management History. You have an option to either select individual properties or select all properties.
- Remove Deletes the selected entries from the list.
- View/Edit Displays the dialog box where you can view or modify the properties for the selected list entry.
One more configuration setting for Management History determines the size of the Change Tracking log. The log stores information about requests to change directory data, one record per request. Each record includes information about the changes to a certain object that were made in accordance with a certain change request.
You can configure the maximum number of records by managing properties of the Change Tracking Log Configuration object, located in the Configuration/Server Configuration container.
On the Log Settings tab in the Properties dialog box for that object, you can select one of the following options:
- All requests that occurred during last <number> days Information about change requests is written to the log so that new requests replace those that are older than the specified number of days.
- This total number of most recent requests The log stores not more than the specified number of change requests. When the limit is reached, each new request to make changes to directory data replaces the oldest request in the log.
- This number of most recent requests per object For every object, the log stores at most the specified number of change requests. When the limit is reached for a certain object, each new request to make changes to the object replaces the oldest request related to that object. The total number of requests depends on the number of objects that are modified via Active Roles.
By default, the Change Tracking log is configured to store information about requests that occurred within last 30 days. Information about change requests is written to the log so that new requests replace those that are older than 30 days. If you increase this number, do it carefully. Increasing this number significantly increases the size of the log. If you are planning to change this setting, you should first review the Considerations and best practices section earlier in this chapter.
NOTE: The Change Tracking log is used as the source of information on both Change History and User Activity. The volume of requests held in the log equally determines the Change History retention time and the User Activity retention time.
On the Log Record Size tab, you can choose from the options that allow you to reduce the size of the Change Tracking log by logging detailed information about a limited number of change requests, having only basic information about the other change requests logged and thus included in the reports. If the log record of a given change request contains detailed information, then the report on that request provides information about all changes made, along with all policies and workflows performed, by Active Roles when processing the request. Otherwise, the report provides information only about the changes to the object properties made in accordance with the request. Although storing only basic log records results in fewer details in the reports, doing so may considerably decrease the size of the Management History database. The following options are available:
- All requests The Change Tracking log contains detailed information about all requests stored in the log.
- Requests that occurred during last <number> days Detailed information about requests is written to the log so that new requests with detailed information replace those that are older than the specified number of days.
- This number of most recent requests The log stores not more than the specified number of requests containing detailed information. When the limit is reached, each new request with detailed information replaces the oldest request in the log.
- Don’t log detailed information about any requests The Change Tracking log contains only basic information about all requests stored in the log.