Editor's Desk

Walk, Don't Run

How fast will your company move to Windows Server 2003?

I’ve had a lot of network people tell me they’re ready to get off the wheel of constant upgrade cycles, set in motion by the demands of Microsoft’s financial statements. Many are dabbling in Linux. That’s wise, of course (though, how that slows down the upgrade wheel I don’t know). But I have another suggestion for you.

The idea comes from Comdex, where Microsoft set up a meeting for me with one of its early adopters. Len Couture, CIO for Enterasys Networks, talked for an hour about his company’s efforts with the platform then named Windows .NET Server 2003. Sure, Enterasys is just the kind of cutting-edge organization that can generate revenue based on its close relationship with Redmond, as it’s a network hardware provider. Part of Couture’s job is to prove to his company’s clients that the right technology choices can pay off.

Couture and his team intend to use Windows Server 2003 as a platform to deliver services to Enterasys partners. As part of that, they’ll develop two directory forests to manage users: Enterasys employees and those with partner firms. New functionality in Active Directory is making that possible. Likewise, they’re setting up access to legacy “information stores”—dated data—for internal users in a manner providing a single view.

One would think his would be a high-pressure job, fraught with distressing calls from executives demanding budget cuts, users clamoring for stable software, IT staff members demanding a break from the unrelenting upgrade cycles mandated by tight partnerships with companies like Microsoft...

Yet, what impressed me about Couture was his low-key approach to the work. The goals he’s set for himself and his staff are intense. But most likely, Couture’s graceful approach to his work is an outgrowth of being experienced in his profession. Those who have seen software releases come and go before make their jobs look easy and effortless. That’s not because the job is easy, but because they’re professionals who apply what they’ve learned through experience.

So here’s my suggestion: Use this version of Windows Server to approach your job the right way in your organization. You’ve been here before, faced upgrades, and here’s your chance to act like the elder statesman. Get a 120-day evaluation copy and do the kind of planning, testing and ROI calculations you’ve always secretly wanted to do but never took the time for. Then determine if there really are compelling reasons to deploy it. Be wise about it. No rush (as long as the evaluation date doesn’t come and go). You’re influential in your organizations. For many of you, if you say the company shouldn’t move to Windows Server 2003, it probably won’t. After all, you’re the ones who are in a position to know. On the other hand, you may discover some pluses you weren’t seeking and that may dispel any jaded attitude you might have toward this release.

Then tell me what you decide. I’m at dian.schaffhauser@mcpmag.com.

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Apr 12, 2006 ROSNA KERALA


Fri, Jul 25, 2003 Paul Dayton

We are waiting until it works with Exchange 2003 which is not out yet, it is in my opinion a showstopper. Our member servers are all W2K which are workign really well, I might consider upgrading the internal webservers to 2k3 if our applications will run with it.

I would also like to see a SP 7 for NT, then a nice easy SMB tool for a single domain instead of all the Enterprise documentation that does not apply almost never.

If Microsoft is smart, then they will turn their focus on Medium sized businesses make it affordable and make it revelant. Quite selling to the big companies and samll ones so much (SBS) and focus on the Middle market where we need the most help.

Mon, Apr 21, 2003 Steve Conners Indianapolis

I never waste my time responding to to articles, however this one was so poor I could not restrain myself.

There was not a fact, logical argument or even a compelling reason to consider Server 2003 in this article. It goes to prove my opinion that "Microsoft is just a huge marketing company still looking for a product to promote." I spent 17 years in marketing before I entered the IT world and this article is a classic "Snob appeal" approach to a otherwise difficult sell.

Your last sentence was particularly insulting to any IT professional. Microsoft has duly earned any “jaded attitude” if it exists.

Sat, Apr 19, 2003 bob Boston

I wonder about Leasing. Currently many people upgrade because support for an APP is being discontinued. I imagine the motivation for it being discontinued is financial. It would be interesting to see, if the software companies begin to lease software, would they start paying closer attention to installed base? Imagine that instead of forcing a company to upgrade from NT4 to 2003 because NT4 is no longer being supported, Microsoft would say, given that 60% (guestimate) of our installed base is running NT4 (and we are leasing the software) lets make another service pack. This would offset the leasing costs. Instead of going through a costly upgrade/migration, the company could just SP the servers.
OK so I"ll keep dreaming.

Sat, Apr 19, 2003 novell Toronto.

I think Leasing may help many Software companies. I service a few clients running Netware 3.x. Can you imagine? This software was installed over 10 years ago. Other people are still running NT4 servers. The cost per user per year for licensing of these apps is about $15 and dropping.

Sat, Apr 19, 2003 rmyers montreal

Upgrades = Manufacturer sales.
We have started to see a shift in many softare manufacturers. PURCHASING LICENSES vs LEASING LICENSES. All software companies have a problem of maintaining revenues. I believe that many of the changes we SEE are for that reason. Make the VP Finance SEE the difference. Remember when PC's were all BEIGE. All the new ones are BLACK. The VP Finance will ask "Why are some of those servers BLACK and most of them are BEIGE" "Well sir, the BEIGE ones are all the MUCH older equipement that should be replaced by BLACK ones" User interfaces: WIN311 VS WIN9X VS WINXP. I am sorry but functionallity has not been as radically improved as the change in the appearance. In many cases, the overhead of the change outweighed the benifits. Fine the guts were improved from 16-bit to 32-bit to 64-bit, but those are changes the VP Finance could not see. Win2003, do you really need it? Who cares, the VP Finance will see the difference. (Visually and financially).

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Dabbling in Linux won't slow the upgrade cycle, but it won't require a chest full of gold bars when you do upgrade.

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Whatever - but your missing the point. We don't want to have to upgrade anymore. We want the OS to be stable and secure. We don't really need or want all the bells and whistles!

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

It's nice to see alternative OSes rise to the front lines. I invision that Microsoft will not keep up with the product life cycles that they have in the past. Prime example is 2003 which was slated for late last year. It will take a few more product cycles for them to realize that the larger/and or smaller corparations will not invest in the IT upgrade path that Microsoft is trying to set its too fast. They shoot them selfs in the foot every time when they downplay the last OS release. Prime example in the desktop side was when ME was released although directed at the home user, Microsoft to totting Win98 all the way then next day turning around and saying oh. An upgrade to this our premier OS for home use is a must. (needless to say how many machines do actually run ME from that era). I think the title should be "WAIT AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT CRAWLING YET"

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 Bill California

Of the 63 network customers that I currently have, not a single one is interested in upgrading to 2003, when it becomes available. Most of my customers feel that Microsoft put the screws to them by the original purchase price of the software that they already bought. I am being asked by a majority of them to investigate open source software as a possible solution for the next upgrade. It appears that Microsoft is going to lose a majority of at least the customers I service, and I am not going to discourage them away from open source, as I feel it is probably a better investment from a business standpoint.

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 John Anonymous

I dont see the advantage of trying to talk my peers into upgrading in a bad economy. MS is obviously not in tune at all with its customer base as small to medium companys are getting killed right now. 2000 was expensive enough and works great. 2003 should have been an option pack. Im done.

Wed, Apr 16, 2003 Todd Frank Illinois

If you do take the time to figure ROI, don't forget the cost in time and server outages you need to install service packs and almost weekly security patches. In my opinion, Microsoft is already too expensive, and they will only get more expensive. I have had enough.

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Jeff Black Arizona

Maybe the lesson learned is:
Evaluate every other O/S issue.
Purchase the subsequent one to the one you evaluated.
NT was an obvious leap ahead of the Windows 3.x workgroups. Windows 2000 represented a bold move on Microsoft's part to implement open standards and a real directory service. 2003 represents the improvement upon it. Dian Schaffhauser's article is a reminder to us, those that have the capacity to evaluate not just the next O/S, but what it represents and what to anticipate in subsequent offerings.

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

a curse on the House of Patches n Upgrades. Bah!!~

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Same old crap, nothing new!
How about investing in Linux, and knowing what your rate of return is going to be, instead of "Guessing" what Microsoft has up its sleeve next, and having to invest a ton of money in yet another unsubstantiated Microsoft product.

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Who’s got time to secretly test ROI, but I' am tired of the constant upgrades & Patches. We skipped the Server 2000 & XP desktop push, but now that we have to move forward in some areas, I'm eyeing Server 2003 so we don’t have to upgrade twice. The article was amusing, but nothing new to learn. Lets talk about pricing breakdown. I can see by selling it per CPU, and users but by Memory required. What’s next? Are they going to price the amount of hard disks I put in for storage?

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Most of my customers just spent (within the last year) a lot of money to go to W2K server. I don't see talking them into spending another bundle forat least 2 years no matter how good it is.

Tue, Apr 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Wouldn't even consider installing it until after the first SP was out

Wed, Apr 2, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

General information can apply to any OS

Tue, Apr 1, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I also thought it was very timley and not very informitive

Mon, Mar 31, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

didt tell me anything new

Mon, Mar 31, 2003 Maurice Newsome Anonymous

I found thie article to be quite timely. I've just returned from the Microsoft "Convergence" Event. It was basically a four day commercial for the newest offerings. Although the promise is great, it is my intention to run the trial version on my personal server within my company and let the management see the features in measured doses.

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