Tools Vendors Rush into Windows 2000 Breach
Yes, Windows 2000 is a full-fledged, ready-to-use product, but numerous third-party vendors have stepped in to help managers use it. So if Windows 2000 is good to go, why do administrators need help?
Migration rarely consists of purely changing the operating system on installed machines. Instead, says Steve Kleinhans, an analyst with the Meta Group (www.metagroup.com), users will make a shift to new hardware and regard the migration as an opportunity to clean up the system.
"With Windows NT, you had to kludge a lot of systems," Kleinhans says, suggesting that when users migrate they will want to convert the shortcuts they made in NT to standard Windows 2000 functionality. Migration tools can assist in changing these functions.
"The basic [Microsoft wizard-driven] migration assumes you’re migrating in place," Kleinhans says. Large complicated networks need help. "Microsoft has been quite clear in their expectation that users will turn to third parties for implementing a migration," says Keith Millar, product manager at FastLane Technologies Inc.(www.fastlane.com).
Active Directory and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) are the additions to Windows 2000 most frequently addressed by vendors offering tools for Windows 2000.
Active Directory presents a number of issues for managers migrating current systems to Windows 2000. First, NT’s domains and workgroups are lumped into Operating Units (OU) within Active Directory. Since OUs are centrally handled by Active Directory, to maintain the same functionality as NT, an administrator must plan in advance for a migration.
For example, Entevo Corp.’s (www.entevo.com) ManagedMigrations tool is specifically designed to aid the deployment of Windows 2000. It models the current structure in NT with OUs, allowing files to be migrated smoothly.
KickStart from FastLane advocates migrating only specific systems and domains one at a time, keeping some machines on NT for the time being. KickStart combines software for populating Active Directory and consultants to aid an incremental migration. "It’s important to maintain a certain level of service; an adverse effect on the end user community can create some serious questions to answer," Millar says.
WMI, which is also available for NT 4.0, may also present a challenge in migration. Luckily a several third-party vendors provide tools for Windows 2000.
Consisting of APIs in Windows 2000 and a standalone product for NT 4.0, WMI communicates with systems across a network, enabling powerful, cross-platform monitoring of hardware, databases, and peripherals.
The market for WMI tools is mature, and there is a great deal of similarity between products. This poses "a real problem since there’s no big winner," according to John Enck, an analyst at GartnerGroup (www.gartner.com). An IT manager will have a tough time picking between a profusion of tools and vendors in the absence of one or two market leaders.