NT To Windows 2003 Migration: The Why & How

by Hinesh Jethwani    May 17, 2004

In an exclusive with CXOtoday, Microsoft’s key integrator in the country - Maestros Mediline Systems - shared its experience with Windows 2003 projects, to help users formalize a concrete migration strategy.

Starting with the big question plaguing NT users, i.e. ’Why upgrade?’ Dr. Nitin Paranjape, chairman and managing director, Maestros Mediline Systems, said, “We have executed many projects for training and deployment of NT to Windows 2003 migration. These include pure migration, coexistence with NT in mixed mode, Active Directory customization, Group policies implementation, patch management, Exchange deployment, etc. The most important benefit of Windows 2003 is its security tightening. In earlier versions, many default settings were configured for convenience. Now, all important settings are pre-configured for security. Active Directory is another important benefit, as it streamlines the domain structure and minimizes the available bandwidth.”

Detailing the advantages of Windows 2003 further, Paranjape explained, “Software distribution using Group Policies and Software Update Service are two very useful features from the patch management point of view. IIS Isolation modes are extremely useful in making the web applications more reliable and scaleable. Also, Folder redirection from local PCs to a centralized storage increases the safety and manageability of corporate information. Distributed File System is another very useful feature for heavy users of shared directories.”

Moving on to an even bigger question that NT users face - “How do we upgrade to Windows 2003 seamlessly?” Paranjape said, “One of the earliest challenges is that customers should clearly understand the business benefits of the newer features. Often we need to perform detailed Proof Of Concept installations in order to prove the real value of the migration. As authentication of Windows 95/98 clients relies upon WINS, to manage the higher load of authentication requests in Windows 2003, we have to often install a separate Additional Domain Controller. File and print roles need to be shifted to a member server (not the domain controller) in order to manage authentication performance issues.”

Detailing the problems associated with changing a customers mindset, Paranjape explained, “Very often, customers are satisfied with base Active Directory and File Print functionality. They are reluctant to explore other, relevant features of the new platform. I would say this is the most important bottleneck.”

So what does Microsoft’s integration forerunner think of Longhorn? Paranjape replied, “It is a very ambitious and exciting product, that aims to redefine the OS market. However, it is in very early stages of its evolution. According to my last lookup, it is at least 2 years or more before it is released in the market. Therefore, at this stage I do not think it is practical to get excited about Longhorn. I would urge customers to seriously look at the great products that they already have on their servers, and exploit each relevant feature by taking that extra initiative. Newer versions make sense only when the current version is fully utilized. I am disappointed with the overall adoption of the current version itself in the Indian enterprise space.”

Maestros is currently talking to known names in the private insurance and aviation verticals, for Windows 2003 upgrade projects.