Users confront barriers to Win2000 migration

Systems integration and high deployment costs are just two of the obstacles confronting IT managers migrating to Microsoft's Windows 2000.

A Computerworld survey of IT managers received mixed responses, but all agreed 2001 is the year they are planning to upgrade to Windows 2000.

This reflects the findings in a Com Tech Education survey that shows 44 per cent of large organisations will deploy the software this year.

Only two per cent completed deployment last year and only five per cent of large companies were involved in Windows 2000 training last year.

But according to Com Tech, this figure has jumped to 80 per cent in the last six months.

Graham Henderson, Federal Court of Australia director of technology services, said the system will be deployed over six to nine months at an estimated cost of $1 million in hardware replacement and $300,000 in testing.

Two new IT initiatives at the court -- an electronic case management system and a comprehensive e-business strategy aimed at integrating the court's business systems, are driving the upgrade, Henderson said.

"The court had no choice but to migrate due to a planned overhaul of its PCs; we know our laptops and desktops won't be built for Windows 95," Henderson said.

"We've been told by people there's some smarts in Windows 2000 that will cause integration problems in our Novell applications; interfacing with our backend could also be problematic. So the advice we've got is, if you're doing more than one network application a single network isn't viable."

Henderson is confident Windows 2000 will offer a more stable platform for employee laptops that require plug-and-play functionality and makes up 30 per cent of the court's hardware.

Steel-Line Garage Doors is migrating to Windows 2000 over the next two months and the company's IT manager James Johnson said the company is not upgrading old machines, only new purchases.

"We had to purchase a database upgrade, backup upgrade, and also have a stallion remote modem device that is not currently supported under 2000," Johnson said.

"The bios upgrades are apparently going to be available at the end of this month for the device."

A senior IT professional from a leading petroleum company, who requested anonymity, said the company is upgrading from a Windows NT4 environment.

"The major barrier to widespread implementation is the self-imposed requirement that existing PCs must be at least Pentium II 233MHz and have 128MB memory to qualify as a candidate for Windows 2000," he said.

High-tech aerospace company Boeing Australia will deploy the system on July 1 and IS manager David Gee said the main concern is systems integration.

To ensure various business applications integrate, Gee said he needs to move from a pure Citrix environment to a multi-application environment on one server.

"Our clients work with Windows 2000 so we are being driven by our interactions with them. While NT4 is okay we need something more, also Windows 95 degrades over time," he said.

"The configuration of it slowly becomes more problematic; you have to build it again because it fails intermittently and unexpectedly, plus Windows 95 is still not the best portable operating system. Tthe upgrade will provide a more locked-down offering."

Boeing is investing $10,000 in training six IT support staff for the deployment.

Srimal Abetsekera, Macquarie Health Services IS manager, said a major concern is the longevity of the Win2000 platform.

"As Microsoft has already announced the next generation of Windows, it is likely most companies will adopt a wait-and-see strategy," he said.

Australia Post CIO Valda Berzins agreed, adding there was no hurry to undertake a Win2000 migration.

Tony Welsh, Queensland Rail IT manager, said he is only in the early planning phase while IT business manager at Bankstown Council, Maria Cabrera said she is putting forward a business case for Citrix Metaframe with no plans to roll out Windows 2000.

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