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Big corporates ‘pained’ by Win2K rollouts

But it's worth it in the long run

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A report from Giga Information Group claims that large corporates are taking six to nine months longer than anticipated to move to Windows 2000.

A poll of around 100 major customers showed that two thirds of corporations will hold off from deploying W2K until 2001. The report states: "Ask IS managers and executives for the first word that comes to mind to describe a Windows 2000 migration, and you get the following responses: Complex. Slow. Expensive. Lengthy. Painful."

Anecdotal evidence Giga compiled from interviews with more than four dozen early adopters suggests the Windows 2000 migration - which includes the design, testing, staff training and rollout - is taking about six to nine months longer than originally planned for enterprise shops with 10,000 or 20,000-plus desktops and multiple, remote offices.

But the report does finally get around to asking the $64,000 question: "Are the benefits derived from a Windows 2000 migration worth the risks and the pain once an organisation has suffered and survived the myriad technical glitches, disruptions to the daily routine and lived through seemingly endless hours of overtime?"

And the answer appears to be a resounding 'Yes'.

More than 80 percent of corporates queried say that W2K Professional and Server - correctly designed, tested and installed by trained administrators - delivers performance improvements and management enhancements that make it from two to 10 times more powerful, scalable, secure and reliable than any 1.0 release of a Microsoft desktop or server operating system to date.

Giga claims that three main areas of Windows 2000 Server represent the steepest learning curve - Active Directory, which the company claims is "Still a 1.0 release that will take at least a year to stabilise"; network and systems management - " Probably the most glaring deficiency in W2K Server. We expect this to be the case for at least the next 12 to 15 months"; and security.

The research outfit seems a little confused on this last issue, on the one hand praising Win2K as the most secure product Microsoft has ever produced, while complaining that it's difficult to administer.

Right to reply

We thought that the overall tone of Giga's report was a tad downbeat, so we put the main criticisms to a senior Microsoft insider, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Here's what he had to say:

Active Directory Yes this is complex. And it can be kind of scary, mainly because it's unknown. As to the 'it will take a year to shake out' that's probably true. But MS has been running it internally in its Redmond domain for over a year.

All of MS worldwide uses it every day. Have there been some issues? I expect so, although I cannot remember a single day that I've been unable to login due to AD failures. The email viruses have had a greater impact on me than AD has. While AD is complex, it is also highly flexible and powerful. And (IMHO) reliable. There are a lot of things to think about in order to get the most out of it. And you need some training.

Network and Systems Management The tools are missing. But you can buy them from 3rd parties. I suppose the real question to ask is just what Giga expect? In the past MS has never provided more than the basic toolset - which has spawned a nice little 3rd party niche.

Personally, I'm quite glad to see they've not killed off that niche. The MMC tools are a bit of a pain, but are still usable. Most larger shops will probably want to 'roll their own' which is eminently possible - the basics are all there (ADSI, WSH, WMI, etc).

Security Here Microsoft just can't win. I think the Giga article summed this area up well: "the inherent security in W2K Professional and Server is the best Microsoft has offered to date". If anything this is an understatement.

Yet this is a concern? Well, Giga is right that the challenge is to do it right - but what has this to do with Windows 2000, as such? Any system - Linux, AS400, S/390 - can be set up badly. Again, there are a bunch of new approaches, and customers do need some training in how to get the best out of them.

I can't help thinking that some of this 'dissatisfaction' is from folks who don't understand the product and are afraid of the change. They should go on some training courses.

To me, Win2K is the obvious choice. I run it on my machines, my wife runs it on her computer and my daughter runs it - she's 3 1/2. ®

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