REDMOND, Wash., July 31, 2000 — Managing an IT department is no easy task, especially when it comes to planning ahead for upgrades and deployments. With hundreds — or thousands — of PCs to manage, IT managers want a platform that’s stable, reliable and easy to maintain.
With Windows 2000, Microsoft worked to ensure quick and easy deployment and painless maintenance, even for the largest organizations. This month, with the release of the first service pack for Windows 2000 (Windows 2000 SP 1), Microsoft takes these benefits one step further with an update that eases the upgrade process and simplifies deployment for customers currently planning their upgrades.
So far, customer feedback on the platform has been exceedingly positive. TELUS, a telecommunications company based in Western Canada, was a Microsoft Rapid Deployment customer, implementing and testing Windows 2000 while it was still in beta. The company started its project almost a year ago, installing Windows 2000 on 20,000 desktops and laptops. Erika Tischer, project manager for Windows 2000 at TELUS, says the benefits Windows 2000 provided in terms of better information sharing, centralized management, device support and mobile data access far outweighed any perceived risks of taking on a beta product.
“Normally we wait two to three months after a product comes out or until the service pack has been released before we implement it, so that we know the initial issues a product has have been fixed,
But with Windows 2000, any concerns we had quickly dissolved as all of our ‘go/no-go’ criteria for applications compatibility and other key requirements were consistently met.
Delivered on Schedule
Microsoft indicated it would distribute new service packs approximately every six months, so customers can plan and streamline their system updates. This is a welcome change for many IT managers. “It’s only a few months after the initial release of the product and already the company has its first service pack coming out,” Tischer commented.
In addition to a consistent release timeline, Microsoft is also delivering on another customer request with Service Pack 1: it is free of new features that can clutter systems and necessitate additional training. “Any time you introduce a new feature, it means educating the user base. You want fixes to be as transparent as they can be,
According to Microsoft, the focus of the development and design of SP 1 — as for Windows 2000 — was reducing lifecycle maintenance costs for customers. New deployment options as well as updates that help customers prepare for new software releases are cited as examples of how the service pack delivers on that focus.
One of those options is integrated installation. The new option allows administrators to create an integrated installation of the Windows 2000 operating system and the service pack on a network share or CD, which can then be distributed out to all machines on the network. This simplifies what used to be a two-step process, involving installing the original operating system first and then installing the service pack. It also means that once the service pack is installed, customers will no longer have to reinstall it after adding or changing a component on the system. Microsoft says the integrated installation option will significantly reduce the amount of time and resources required to implement its service packs, thereby reducing the overall lifecycle maintenance costs of Windows 2000.
Customers Say Windows 2000 is Rock Solid
Some would say the real test of an operating system’s reliability comes after it is being used by millions of companies to run their businesses. So far, customers are finding that the initial release of Windows 2000 lives up to its promises of reliability and ease of use.
Barclays Global Investors was one of the first to convert to Windows 2000. Previously, it had a mix of Windows NT and Sun Solaris, which required almost completely separate IT operations. Windows 2000 has simplified the company’s administration and management, enhanced security, and consolidated its environment, resulting in easier maintenance.
Jeff Shore, manager of global messaging and Intel platform at Barclays Global Investors, is glad his company didn’t wait. “Windows 2000 has exceeded our expectations for a reliable and dependable operating environment. There’s no question that our decision to deploy Windows 2000 was good for the company.”
Like Barclays Global Investors, streamlining administration and maintenance across the company’s global operations was a key reason Robert Half International implemented Windows 2000. The company uses a proprietary business-critical software application that needs to be updated every two to four weeks. Prior to implementing Windows 2000, the application resided on over 7,000 desktops across hundreds of locations. Updating every one of those desktops literally took all of the time between updates to complete. Now, with Windows 2000 Terminal Services, the proprietary application lives on 45 centralized servers that are administered and managed by the corporate office and accessed by employees over the network. Performance of their application is significantly faster, and the time to administer and manage it has been cut from over three weeks to just under four hours.
Ken Baba, manager of server engineering at Robert Half International, is happy with these results.
“At first, we had the typical IT reservations about migrating to a beta release product. However, after testing Windows 2000 and seeing the benefits in our operation, it was clear to us that Windows 2000 provided a significant value to the production environment of our organization and that Microsoft had really done their homework on the reliability. Windows 2000 has proven to be an extremely dependable platform for our entire mission critical business applications. Now that we’re implementing the production code and SP 1, the product just keeps getting better and better.”
Easier Deployment for Solution Providers
Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, a Microsoft Solution Provider, has helped hundreds of companies representing hundreds of thousands of users deploy Windows 2000 in their organizations.
“We have found that Windows 2000 reliability is far superior to Microsoft’s previous OS [operating system] releases. Customers are continually telling us how thrilled they are that they no longer have to do as much rebooting and hands-on maintenance with Windows 2000. They very quickly feel the value of how stable and easy-to-use the system is.”
Morimoto agrees that installation and support is easier for Windows 2000 than it was for previous Windows operating systems.
“The support for Plug and Play in the operating system allows for the easy installation of Windows 2000 on desktops, laptops and servers without having to download drivers and manually configure each and every hardware device.”
Rainier, another Microsoft Solution Provider, deployed Windows 2000 to over 1,000 desktops at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in just three weeks. “We have been very impressed with the tools available to simplify the deployment process, as well as the significant business value and cost savings that our clients are seeing. We spent the majority of the time architecting the right solution for this client’s environment, which made the deployment process painless,
Customers and solution providers look forward to the lower system maintenance costs made possible by the enhancements in SP 1.
“Although we expect there are some companies out there who are still waiting for SP 1 before they deploy, there probably aren’t as many as usual,”
said Mark Croft, lead product manager of Microsoft’s Platforms Division.
“More than 3 million copies of Windows 2000 have been sold since its release in February, and for those companies who have been waiting for one reason or another, now that SP 1 is out, there’s absolutely no reason to wait any longer.”
Tischer, who has been working with Windows 2000 from day one, agrees:
“We’ve had an extremely positive experience with Windows 2000. Windows 2000 is rock solid.”