REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 28, 2004 — High-end golf gear maker PING Inc., winter sports equipment manufacturer K2 Sports, and Italys centuries-old inspective police force Guardia di Finanza dont have much in common. But all three are among organizations that report cost savings, reduced risk, faster performance and other benefits since transitioning from a Microsoft Windows NT server environment to a Windows Server 2003 system.
More companies will be making the switch over the coming year, as Microsoft phases out support for Windows NT Server 4.0. To help these companies, Microsoft is offering a host of tools and resources, from free training courses, to reference materials and online guides, to services such as QuickStart and technology tools such as the Active Directory Migration Tool and IIS Migrator.
“Many NT4 customers would like to take advantage of the benefits provided by Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, or Small Business Server 2003,”
says Jim Hebert, general manager of Microsofts Windows Server Marketing Division.
“By taking advantage of the tools, guidance and trained Microsoft partners, many customers are finding the upgrade remarkably painless.”
The renewed focus on these migration tools and resources comes nearly 12 months before an important deadline for Microsoft customers: the sunset of support for NT 4.0 systems, slated for Dec. 31 of this year. But Microsoft officials say customers have good reason to upgrade, even without the retirement of the 8-year-old NT Server family of operating systems.
“In general, regardless of your workload, youre going to get about two times — in some cases even three times — the performance that you would get out of an NT 4.0 server, without even changing hardware,”
says Troy Zaboukos, product manager in Microsofts Windows Server Division.
Customers who consolidate from an NT environment to Windows Server 2003 typically save 20 percent to 30 percent in total cost of ownership (TCO), Microsoft officials say. They also see greater productivity due to the superior speed of Windows Server 2003, which runs 160 percent faster than Windows NT Server 4.0 as a file server, and 345 percent faster as a domain server, officials say. Features such as Windows SharePoint Services further boost productivity by enabling employees to use team-oriented websites to share information and collaborate more easily. Honeywell Inc, for example, estimates that the company increased productivity by US$2.5 million per year with the ability to quickly establish virtual teams using SharePoint Team Services Customers also reduce their exposure to security breaches, because Windows Server 2003 has a 60 percent smaller attack surface and enhanced security features, including vastly improved authentication.
Customers Cite Benefits, Swift Payback
For Guardia di Finanza, Italys inspective police force, security and reliability were major factors in the decision to upgrade to Windows Server 2003. Operating under Italys Ministry of Economy and Finance with 66,000 employees at 1,400 locations throughout the country, Guardia di Finanzas responsibilities include securing land, air and sea; countering tax evasion; and preventing and prosecuting financial crimes.
Most of its branch office sites were supported by about 240 servers running Windows NT Server 4.0, and the systems were nearing the end of their planned useful life.Guardia di Finanzachose Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition — largely because of its competitive cost, increased security, flexibility and allowance for technological growth — and began a gradual, organization-wide migration.
Guardia di Finanza estimates at least a 20-percent increase in security resulting from the migration, due in part to built-in security features in Windows Server 2003 that Windows NT Server 4.0 could not provide. For example, the industry-standard Kerberos protocol — based on an encrypted ticket which authenticates the host to access a network — is the default authentication method in Windows Server 2003. Other benefits included an estimated 40-percent increase in stability, a 20-percent decrease in deployment time, a 30-percent decrease in human resource costs, and a three-fold increase in time their agents could spend in the field.
“Our choice of Windows Server 2003 has provided us with a greater ROI than alternate solutions just from the benefits provided by the capabilities of Windows Server,”
says Major Emanuele Tramacere, development architect at Guardia di Finanza. The benefits of the solution greatly outweigh any risk.
Such clearly quantifiable benefits also abound among other companies that upgrade to Windows Server 2003. PING and K2 — both leading manufacturers of sports equipment– are cases in point, Microsoft officials say.
“The payback is relatively fast and its very, very apparent,”
says Tom Ford, a product manager in Microsofts Windows Server Division.
“The ROI that customers will achieve by making this move is likely to more than pay for any kind of cost theyre going to incur in terms of licenses and services.”
At PING, upgrading from Windows NT Server 4.0 to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition saved an estimated 50 percent in licensing fees, say officials of the Phoenix, Ariz.-based maker of high-performance golf equipment. The new server installation also ended the need for nightly maintenance of a four-server NT 4.0 Terminal Server and Citrix combination that had supported the companys internal call center and customer support staff. The new servers industrial-strength management tools also reduced time spent on daily administration tasks.
“We cant afford downtime due to temperamental servers,”
says Kent Crossland, PINGs chief information officer.
“With Windows Server 2003, we drive up system availability and drive down administration costs, making us more efficient and more productive.”
Before it migrated to Windows Server 2003, K2 Sports faced a common scenario for small businesses that have grown into larger businesses: a network comprised of several different versions of operating systems and management tools. The company had added them over time to meet short-term needs, but not necessarily with an eye towards a long-term plan.
At its Vashon Island headquarters near Seattle and a distribution center nearby, the sports gear maker ran three NT 4.0 domain controllers, plus a mix of servers running NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Server and Novell NetWare. As a result of this mixture in the server room and on the desktop, K2s two system administrators spent much of their time wrestling with tools that did not meet the needs of the job at hand.
By upgrading its NT 4.0 domain controllers to Windows Server 2003, the company reduced server administration time by an estimated 30 percent and saved about $42,000 in 2003. In addition, the server consolidation saved an estimated 50 percent of the allocated hardware budget, or nearly $14,000, in 2003 considerable year-to-year cost savings for a midsized company.
“In the future, because of Microsoft Windows Server 2003, we will be able to automate a large part of the management of our Microsoft servers which will save us tons of time due to our limited IT resources,”
says Pius Oleskey, network/operations manager with K2.
Jumpstart Your Companys Migration: Whats Next
For companies wanting to take advantage of the benefits of Windows Server 2003, now is a good time to start the process, Zaboukos says.
His advice: Use the resources available at the Microsoft.com/upgradent website (see Related Links at right) to calculate your companys potential savings, sign up for a class, line up a partner, and review prescriptive-guidance materials that include migration tips.
Companies that have used these resources have found the process a smoother and quicker one, he says:
“They are proven tools that our field has used again and again to get that reliable transfer, either from Windows NT Server 4.0 to Windows 2000 or from Windows NT Server 4.0 to Windows Server 2003. The process is exactly the same.”
“It gives customers the predictability, and insight that is absolutely critical for companies who are trying to reduce their costs.”
Microsoft Partners have joined Microsoft Consulting Services to assist customers in planning and executing their migration. This permits customers to turn to their trusted advisors to facilitate their migration plan.
Partners and customers can take advantage of Hands-On Labs online to experience Windows Server 2003 in a structured, step-by-step, instructor-led experience via their own desktop computer.
Other Microsoft services available to ease the transition include QuickStart and QuickPlan, which provide customized network assessment and value justification for migration; and Microsoft technology tools include Active Directory Migration Tool, IIS Migrator and the Application Compatibility Toolkit,
Under the Hewlett Packard Server Trade-In Program (see Related Links at right) , customers can trade in their Windows NT Server 4.0 box to HP as a discount against Windows Server 2003. Dell customers can take advantage of migration services for Windows, which are focused on assessing and managing every aspect of a Windows migration. Together, Unisys and Microsoft consultants developed a proof-of-concept assessments for customer, which estimate the value and cost savings that result from an upgrade.
ISVs such as Qwest are also offering on site NT4 upgrade audits; Qwest estimates they have upgraded nearly six million NT4 customers so far. And do-it-yourselfers can get help online via Microsofts Online Concierge service.