Survey reveals keys to cheaper Win 2000 migration

Enterprise customers that have well-established procedures for managing their desktops should find moving to Windows 2000 less expensive and less complex than those that have not, according to a new study.

The study, released recently by The Meta Group, concludes that well-organised companies can trim up to $US450 off the average per-desktop cost of upgrading to Win 2000 Professional, the desktop version of the operating system slated to ship in February.

"If enterprise users have refreshed their hardware every two to three years, the migration costs related to Win 2000 will be much less," says Kurt Schlegel, senior research analyst for The Meta Group.

The Meta Group predicts that the average cost of a Win 2000 upgrade will be $700 to $800 per desktop. But after certain factors are taken into consideration, those costs could drop to as low as $250 or go as high as $1800 per user.

The biggest issue that could inflate costs is how fast enterprises choose to replace aging PCs that can't handle Win 2000's requirements, and how many machines they need to replace.

The Professional version runs best on a 300-MHz Pentium II machine with a minimum of 128MB of RAM, according to The Meta Group. Microsoft's systems requirements, however, are much lower: Pentium-compatible, 133MHz machines with 64MB of RAM are enough, according to the company.

"We don't think hardware will be a big cost for us because most of our machines are less than 3 years old," says John Masseria, manager of systems support for Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival, which keeps a close management eye on its desktops, says nearly 75 per cent of its machines are based on 166-MHz Pentium processors, and roughly two-thirds of its machines have at least 128MBof RAM.

The Meta Group's Schlegel says cost benefits also are likely for users that have established and maintained standard desktops, given that they know what to expect on each desktop during the migration process.

JD Edwards hopes its diligence to desktop standards will pay off as the company begins a 10-month migration to Win 2000 on nearly 8500 desktops and laptops. The Denver-based member of Microsoft's Joint Development Program maintains two unique desktop configurations, one for staff and one for developers.

"We are still in the process of determining our costs, but we do have a budget for deployment and are managing to hit those numbers," says Tricia Fezler, manager of IT communications. She feels the standard desktops will help control costs.

Overall, The Meta Group concludes that Win 2000 Professional is very stable and users should be able to deploy it with confidence beginning in June.

"Unfortunately, it's a different story with the server," Schlegel says. "A lot of the benefit is with IntelliMirror and Active Directory, but it's also where there is a lot of complexity." The Meta Group, like many other consulting firms, is predicting Win 2000 server deployments won't hit critical mass until next year.

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