Leaving NetWare Behind

FRAMINGHAM (07/31/2000) - Whether they're moving to Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Unix, the bad news for Novell is that users appear to be moving in ever greater numbers; as this handful of high-profile examples shows:

The United Parcel Service of America Inc. (UPS) is almost finished with a migration to Windows NT - it has moved 80% of its 2,500 NetWare servers to the Microsoft Corp. operating system and probably will migrate more of them to NT.

Chase Manhattan Corp., which has more than 700 NetWare servers, has formed a committee to explore migrating to Win 2000 but is still very much up in the air about what to do. For example, some parts of the company are planning to upgrade servers to NetWare 5.1 while at least one division is moving nearly 50 NetWare servers to Win 2000.

The University of Southern California will take a different route: It will migrate 100 of its 350 NetWare 5 servers to Unix.

Despite these examples, Novell still has a little bit of breathing room before customers are really expected to dive into Win 2000.

"NetWare migration to Win 2000 will not start in any wholesale fashion until Microsoft releases the first Service Pack for Win 2000 [this month]," says Laura Didio of Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

A Giga survey of 1,100 companies indicated that only 10% of the respondents planned to migrate to Win 2000 within three months of its February 2000 ship date. More than half said they would wait six to 18 months to install Win 2000.

Richard Nortz, senior vice president of sales for Novell Inc., acknowledges that some customers are moving to Win 2000, but are also still using NetWare.

"E-Directory will tie together all of these different operating systems," he says.

Good-bye NetWare, hello Win 2000

UPS is one of the most aggressive companies moving from NetWare, with a project it calls RENUE (Remove NetWare from the User Environment).

Nick Ray, applications architecture manager for UPS in Mahwah, N.J., says while the decision to change operating systems was unanimous, it wasn't made hastily.

After all, UPS has been a Novell customer for years.

"We looked at the type of applications we were using and saw the majority of the development effort was going into Windows NT," Ray says. UPS also chose NT because of its application server capabilities and to consolidate its operating system support from DOS, Windows and NetWare to only DOS and Windows.

Of the company's 500 remaining NetWare 4.11 servers, roughly 150 will continue to run NetWare. "It provides our central IT organization with the file, print and authentication services we need," Ray says. By the end of September, Ray will have evaluated whether the rest of those servers are better off running NT. He will try to determine if the necessary applications are available on NT and if UPS' customer applications will run only on NetWare. Ray plans to upgrade any remaining NetWare servers to Version 5.0.

While the fate of NetWare at Chase is a topic of much discussion at the company these days, at least one Chase division, Global Private Banking, plans to complete its migration from NetWare to Win 2000 by the second quarter of 2001.

Richard Boyle, vice president of Global Private Banking, says he will move 32 servers in New York and 16 servers in other locations from NetWare to Win 2000.

"The other locations will migrate to Win 2000 once we complete Active Directory setup and capacity testing across the WAN," he says.

Much of Boyle's migration plan involves consolidating servers to increase performance. He is swapping 32 Compaq 5000/5500 servers for four multiprocessor IBM NetFinity 7000 M10 servers, which can each contain up to eight processors.

Boyle is sworn to Novell Directory Services but says he would be concerned about consolidating the servers and still running NetWare.

"I can't run that many processors [on a NetWare server]. Novell is making it hard for us to believe in them," Boyle says. Novell has promised a 32-bit symmetrical multiprocessing version of NetWare 5 for three years now; it will ship early next year, Novell claims. Microsoft Win 2000 Advanced Server now supports up to eight processors.

It's not just large enterprise customers that are considering another platform to pin their network success on. Donnelly, an automotive parts manufacturer in Holland, Mich., is switching to NT because of lack of support from Novell when the customer experienced stability problems with NetWare 5.

"Novell didn't answer our support calls," says Bill Nitz, LAN administrator for Donnelly. "We begged them to have a technician come out and show us how to make our NetWare 5 servers more stable and faster. As soon as we called Microsoft about a possible migration, they came out, threw a ton of solutions at us and offered assistance via Microsoft Consulting Services. We ended up doing [the migration] with on-staff talent."

Donnelly is using the Microsoft Migration Wizard for NetWare to move 30 servers in the U.S. to Windows NT. Thirty other global servers have already been switched.

"Since we already own the Windows NT and NetWare licensing, [there's] no rush other than to make the migration easy and transparent to the end user," Nitz says. "Moving shared network files from a NetWare drive to NT is slow and that's taking the longest amount of time."

Donnelly's migration will be finished in September if all goes well.

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