Migration Technologies Added to Active Directory

To ease the process of migrating to Windows 2000, Microsoft Corp. is partnering with directory-oriented companies. In the past several months, Redmond has inked joint support pacts with Mission Critical Software (MCS, www.missioncritical.com), FastLane Technologies Inc. (www.fastlanetech.com) and Entevo Corp. (www.entevo.com).

In the directory services and migration market, a deal between Microsoft and MCS has Microsoft licensing Mission Critical's Domain Migrator technologies for use with the Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Server operating system. Mission Critical’s Domain Migrator is part of the company’s one point EA Suite.

Microsoft will integrate the software’s features into Active Directory and make a snap in for the Microsoft Management Console, which Microsoft hopes will provide users with more motivation to start migrating to Windows 2000 sooner.

One of the attractive features in Active Directory is "clone technology," the ability to recognize domains in NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 simultaneously. "This way you can deploy Windows 2000 and keep NT 4 on and you don't have to consider this as throwing a big switch," explains Peter Houston, Microsoft product manager for Active Directory.

Domain Migrator provides several technologies designed to accelerate upgrades to Windows 2000 Server from existing Windows NT Server 4.0 domain structures.

Domain Migrator, for instance, has the ability to combine forests of domain structures. It also includes a "prune and graft" feature that has the ability to prune a directory tree and graft it to another part of the structure.

Upgrade operations typically involve moving users, setting correct file permissions and moving Exchange Server mailboxes. Domain Migrator provides a task-based paradigm, including wizards, that makes it easier for administrators to perform assignments in the proper order.

Mission Critical’s technology uses security features new to the third beta release of Windows 2000, which enables customers to keep Windows NT 4.0 domains in operation until they are comfortable with the deployment of Windows 2000. Administrators will be able to model the way they would like Active Directory structures to look in Windows 2000 Server before they start to move operations. If problems occur, Domain Migrator's rollback features can restore previous configurations.

At one time, Microsoft may have wanted to attempt to develop this sort of technology in-house, but, as Houston explains, Mission Critical has the technology now, and Microsoft doesn't want to disappoint when it comes time for Windows 2000 to be unleashed later this year. "We have to offer the functionality for [users] to deploy sooner rather than later. We think that not only are we doing that but we're responding to user feedback quickly," Houston says. He adds that while Microsoft has told its customers that it won't be adding new bells and whistles to Windows 2000, the company felt that by partnering with Mission Critical, the operating system is able to adopt these functionalities right away, without delaying the release.