No Rush to Open Windows 2000: Page 2

Posted December 12, 2000
By

Joe Mullich


(Page 2 of 2)

So far, Flavin has found only one application that didn't plug and play with Windows 2000. This meant waiting for the next release of the application, which he declined to name, when it would become Windows 2000 compatible.

James Flavin, VP in charge of engineering for Allegrix Inc.

Daryl Ford, manager of information technology for VentureCom, a provider of software and services for developers of Win32-based Intelligent Connected Equipment in Cambridge, Mass., installed Windows 2000 on 20 servers and 80 corporate desktops. He, too, has nothing but praise for the new operating system. I was impressed by the ease of the upgrade, Ford says.

At the same time, most companies don't see enough of an immediate payoff to migrate to the operating system now. Like many of the smaller early adopter firms, Ford can't pinpoint a cost-benefit ratio to the migration.

Current Analysis' Venson has been dissuaded from migrating to Windows 2000 servers by the large number of security bulletins he's seen related to Windows 2000 and the Internet Explorer 5.5 that is bundled with it. "Our company is very technical and we want to make sure everything is stable before we go with it," Venson says. (For a list of security bulletins and downloadable patches, go to the Microsoft Security Bulletin Web site.)

Like many large firms, Emerson Electric Co., a global manufacturer of engines and other products, is now developing a taskforce to look at Windows 2000 migration. The St. Louis-based firm has 60 divisions and 128,000 employees. For now, each individual Emerson division can handle Windows 2000 migration on its own.

Phil Stock, network administrator for Emerson Ventilation Products in Lenexa, Kan., has delayed migration to Windows 2000 Professional until the next release of a key application: Customer Center, a Web-based order-entry and customer-tracking system from Fourth Shift Corp. in Minneapolis. "The current release can't run on Windows 2000," he says.

Lessons Learned about Windows 2000 Migration
  • A Windows 2000 migration is complex and expensive, moreso than most companies imagine.

  • The migration can affect everything from bandwidth needs to security policies.

  • The cost of new hardware is making Windows 2000 on the desktop less of a no-brainer in the short term.

  • Whether to migrate servers or desktops first is a case-by-case decision.

  • It's important to know if your key applications support Windows 2000 yet.

  • Most firms that have migrated are quite pleased with Windows 2000.
  • Stock has no plans now to migrate his nine Windows NT 4.0 servers to Windows 2000. Stock says he would probably only make that move if he received a corporate directive, because the Emerson Electric taskforce wants to leverage Active Directory to share information that is now kept in the individual divisions. However, Stock doesn't see a move to Windows 2000 servers occurring in the next 12 to 18 months.

    Challenges: Compatibility, Support, and Integration Issues

    Companies that have contemplated the move are experiencing a number of political and technological obstacles, analysts say. For instance, Oracle databases supported UNIX and Linux months ahead of Windows 2000. "The Oracle 11A ERP application still doesn't support Windows 2000, but it ran on UNIX months ago," Aberdeen's DiDio says. "The Windows 2000 release is supposedly due out in December 2000."

    As late as September 2000--more than seven months after the release of Windows 2000--DiDio received a frantic call from a customer whose migration plans were stalled because he couldn't get a straight answer from either Microsoft or Oracle about this support problem. "Some companies are feeling like a base runner trapped between first and second base," DiDio says.

    Compatibility problems with applications made for earlier versions of Windows are another challenge. Giga Group's Enderle says these snags were often as small as moving key directories from one place to another. Such compatibility issues are expected to be fixed in the next iteration of Windows 2000, which is due out in about a year.

    DiDio notes that for complex enterprise server migrations, companies are finding integrating UNIX DNS and Windows 2000 DNS is very challenging. "Microsoft doesn't have a really good story to tell customers when it comes to implementing, designing, and architecting multiple Active Directory forests," DiDio says. "And Microsoft won't have [an answer] until Whistler ships."

    All in all, DiDio says Windows 2000 reflects a new way firms are looking at technology. "It used to be technology was measured in Internet years and everything had to be done quickly," she says. "But Windows 2000 is the bellwether product that proves that wrong. Windows 2000 requires too much training, money, and resources to be done quickly, and customers are pushing back." //

    Joe Mullich is a freelance writer in Glendale, Calif. He can be reached at joemullich@aol.com.


    New Tests Stress Real-World Skills

    Requirements for Windows 2000 certification are more stringent than those of past tests. Microsoft Corp. has made several significant changes to the Microsoft Certified Engineer (MCSE) credential for Windows 2000 to emphasize the need for more real-world experience. This will help assure 100% compatibility with existing applications. But, in the short term, plenty of IT people are finding it hard to earn certification.

    "Windows 2000 exams feature questions based on complex scenarios, such as case studies, that stress real skills and play down memorization."

    To pass the exam, Windows MCSE candidates are expected to have at least a year's experience implementing and administering a network operating system. You could pass the NT 4.0 exam by just reading, one candidate said in an online forum about Microsoft testing. Windows 2000 is a lot tougher.

    The idea behind the more sophisticated exams is for MCSE technicians to have real-world experience rather than mere book learning. Many of the Windows 2000 exams feature questions based on complex scenarios, such as case studies, that stress real skills and play down memorization. About half of the exam's core content require users to have trouble-shooting skills honed by real-world experience.

    On Internet forums, Windows NT 4.0 administrators are expressing "shock and consternation" over the large numbers of them who are flunking the Windows 2000 certification, says Laura DiDio, a director with The Aberdeen Group. According to Didio, some 15% of the NT 4.0 administrators who have taken the accelerated Windows 2000 exam are failing certification because the test is more difficult and because they didn't appreciate the depth of knowledge they'd need about the new operating system. Says Didio: "That is a very high number of failures among some pretty good NT 4.0 administrators who have been playing with Windows 2000 in a test network."
    --Joe Mullich


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