Recently, the IT department at Sprint, in Mansfield, Ohio, has taken on the look of a major disaster area. Yellow police tape blocks off several cubicles and signs warn visitors to keep away. But the tape is not sealing off a crime sceneit's just a sign that a Windows 2000 training session is in progress.
Some of the 19 Sprint employees in the client services office are in the middle of an online training course on the new Windows operating system, which the company is migrating to in early summer. Training on Windows 2000 is a critical part of our migration plan, says Rick Toomey, IT field services manager at Sprint.
Windows 2000, which represents a major change in networking technology, promises to be a powerful new operating system. But getting staffed, trained, and ready to design and implement Windows 2000 is a daunting task. IT Managers face many obstacles with this transition, such as training costs of up to $6,000 per student, scheduling that allows key personnel to be away from their daily responsibilities during training, and deciding which of the various training options is best for their organization.
Managers have several choices when it comes to Win2K trainingthey can send staff to classes, bring instructors in-house, sign up for online classes, or have employees learn it in a self-paced training course using books and CD-ROMs. But no matter what the cost or inconvenience, training is not optional, according to the experts.
Training in Windows 2000 is extremely crucial, much more so than in prior versions, according to Laura DiDio, an analyst covering Windows 2000 at Giga Information Group Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. Win2K has 20 million new lines of codethis is an entirely new operating system.
Because Windows 2000 (Win2K) is such a radical change from existing systems, extensive training is imperative for IT staff and some users as well, according to the experts.
One of the biggest changes and most powerful features is Active Directory, a directory service that holds information about all resources on the network. For staffers familiar with NT 4.0, Active Directory requires a new way of thinking about network administration and security, as well as how a network is set up. Because it is so different from anything NT 4.0 administrators are familiar with, Active Directory is the most important feature for IT staff members to understand.
I think it's imperative for everyone to understand Active Directory, says Toomey. I'm a firm believer that everybody needs at least the conceptual framework. My team is a knowledgeable NT crew, and the classes are great for showing them the differences.
Some other key training issues for IT staff include security, deploying applications on the desktop, managing users, and setting up Web services. The IT staff will see massive changes with Windows 2000, according to Steve Glenn, technical instructor with Learning Tree International Inc., a Reston, Va., training company that offers several Win2K classes worldwide.
Finding Time and Money
Per-person training costs range from $1,500 to as much as $6,000 (this includes time and course materials) on the Win2K Server platform, according to DiDio. The costs will vary depending on the course taken and how many courses each administrator will need to attain MCSE or higher certification. Training end users on Windows 2000 Professional is not as critical and can be done in-house, according to DiDio.