No Rush to Open Windows 2000

Microsofts new OS has what it takes to open corporate doors, but so far most companies are only willing to look through the keyhole.
Posted December 12, 2000
By

Joe Mullich


(Page 1 of 2)

Most companies will let the year 2000 come to a close without inviting the much-ballyhooed Windows 2000 operating system through their corporate doors. Virtually everyone praises the powerful new OS, but the cost, complexity of migration, and lack of immediate need are causing most companies to say Windows 2000 can wait until well into 2001.

Aaron Venson, IT manager for Current Analysis Inc., a business intelligence firm in Sterling, Va., thinks his company will migrate to the Windows 2000 server sometime in the second quarter of 2001. But Venson sees no particular rush to forge a deadline. "Our plan is to have our IT staff take some extended Windows 2000 classes that range from two to four months," he says. "After that, we'll sit down with a consulting firm and go over the features of the Windows 2000 server."

By the end of 2000, a mere 25% of Windows NT shops will have upgraded their servers to the new operating system, according to surveys by The Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based consulting firm. Even more surprising to many analysts is that only a slightly higher percentage of firms will move to Windows 2000 Professional, the desktop version of the operating system, before the end of the year. Six months ago, the Aberdeen Group and other analysts were calling Windows 2000 Professional a no-brainer migration for most companies, considering it had the same GUI and offered vastly superior performance than the previous desktop version.

"Windows 2000 stalled badly in the middle of the year and hit a wall because companies hadn't budgeted for as much hardware as Windows 2000 needed, and they couldn't justify it," says Rob Enderle, vice president of desktop and mobile technology for Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass. "There was also a lot of confusing information about whether the product was ready."

The irony is, despite the initial stumbling blocks, many early adopters have nothing but praise for Windows 2000. "We have not had one crash since we installed it in February [2000]," says James Flavin, vice president in charge of engineering for Allegrix Inc., an infrastructure application service provider (ASP) in Santa Clara, Calif.

Bumps on the Road to Adoption

What's holding Windows 2000 back? Analysts say the timing of the February 2000 release could not have been worse, coming on the heels of the Y2K bug scare. Companies were wary from the outset, not believing the product would ship on time or be bug-free.

Apart from all that, companies now realize a Windows 2000 migration is a complex and expensive process that has ramifications for everything from desktop hardware and bandwidth requirements to security policies and service-level agreements.

"A lot of things have to be done in advance of a Windows 2000 server or desktop migration, such as checking security capabilities and rechecking site licenses," says Laura DiDio, a director with The Aberdeen Group. "This is not like upgrading a single LAN five years ago. With all the enterprise-class performance offered by Windows 2000, a firm has to make sure its environment is ready first."

At a Glance: Allegrix Inc.
The company: Allegrix is an infrastructure application service provider in Santa Clara, Calif., with 30 employees. The firm works with ISVs and other channel providers to convert their programs into an ASP offering, and then hosts and maintains those Web-enabled applications on behalf of each provider.

The problem: Allegrix needed a way to quickly Web-enable, host, and manage ISVs' and solution providers' apps in an ASP mode, so that ISVs and solution providers could manage their own clients.

The solution: The integration of Windows 2000 Server products, including Active Directory, Windows Terminal services, Microsoft SQL, and Active Server pages, provides the ability to more easily host applications and delegate administrative responsibilities.

IT infrastructure: Allegrix uses a variety of "application broker" technologies for network computing. The network features OC48, OC12, OC3, and DS3 links, as well as Cisco 12000 series gigabit switch router technology. The key is using Windows 2000 Servers and Active Directory management.

The result: Instant Web-enablement of client/server Windows NT and 2000 apps, which can be accessed from any browser-based device without an application re-write. This reduces the time and expense involved in delivering applications. It allows Allegrix to manage applications for its ASP clients, as well as its clients' clients, while remaining invisible to everyone involved.

Next, throw a batch of turf politics into the mix; since Windows 2000 promotes centralized management, departments and subsidiaries are asked to relinquish control of their data. Then toss in some shots from Microsoft competitors like Oracle Corp., many of which have been slow to support Windows 2000. The result is most companies see no reason to begin their Windows 2000 migration before the middle of the 2001.

"Twenty-four percent of the companies in the United States currently have no plans at all to migrate to Windows 2000," DiDio says. "In Europe, the numbers are even higher--33% to 34%." Like most analysts, DiDio believes Windows 2000 will eventually be embraced by most companies; it will just take longer than many people believed.

Microsoft, which has never provided any public projections for Windows 2000 adoption, claims to be pleased with the adoption rate of the technology. And analysts don't question that most companies will eventually migrate to Windows 2000 servers because of the technology's two key benefits: The server offers greater stability, and the OS simplifies network and e-business management by replacing scattered directories for individual applications and LANs with a central store called Active Directory.

The key question many companies are facing now, according to Giga Group's Enderle, is whether to move to Windows 2000 on the desktop or the server first. Of the firms that have waited on the desktop until this point, many will probably delay another six to nine months. By then, they expect to adopt the next version of Windows 2000, code-named Whistler, as well as some important hardware advances, such as the Pentium 4 chip. Enderle says the only reason to go with a Windows 2000 server upgrade now is to fix a problem. "If you're up and stable, you might want to work on something else," he says.

To Migrate or Not To Migrate

Certainly, many early adopters have expressed delight with Windows 2000. Allegrix began running Windows 2000 following just two months of beta testing. The hosting firm operates 60 application servers and 20 database servers on the new operating system. "I was surprised with the completeness and the stability of the operating system right from the start," Flavin says. "I thought we'd have to wait for the first service pack for reliability."


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