NetWare to Windows 2000: Making The Leap

By Dominique Deckmyn, Computerworld |  Operating Systems

Migration Checkpoints

• NetWare and NDS are more mature and more reliable than Windows 2000 and Active Directory.

• Users who must upgrade from older IPX-based versions of NetWare have the most compelling case for considering migrating to Windows 2000.

• The fact that new applications such as Exchange 2000 require Active Directory may also influence the decision to migrate to Windows 2000.

• The technical issues surrounding a NetWare-to-Windows 2000 migration are often secondary to overcoming administrators' psychological resistance to leaving the NetWare platform.

• A technical staff well-versed in NetWare's NDS will have an easier time rolling out Active Directory than Windows NT users who are upgrading.

• Differences between the Active Directory and NDS directory tree structure add complexity to the migration of administrative user and file permissions.

• Some thought might be given to running parallel NDS and Active Directory structures rather than engaging in an immediate wholesale migration to Active Directory.

• Third-party migration tools help ease the pain but add to the expense.

NetWare users will find that the move isn't cheap: Michael Silver, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc., pegs the average total cost of migrating from NetWare 4.x to Windows 2000 at $430 per user, with $178 of that for labor costs alone. That adds up to more thaan $1 million for a 2,500-user LAN. "It's a little more expensive than going from NT 4," Silver says, adding that these costs assume that 70% of servers will need to be replaced.

Who's Migrating?

Today, it's not typically the hard-core NetWare shops that are taking the plunge, says DiDio. Companies that have built their application infrastructures around NDS and are using Novell's ZENworks for desktop management and GroupWise for messaging aren't likely to budge. But even the hard-core NetWare shops are already familiar with Windows NT: Most run Windows NT systems as application servers.

Companies Computerworld spoke with about migrating to Windows 2000 were either using older versions of NetWare (as far back as NetWare 3.2) or had mixed NetWare 4.x and NetWare 5.x environments.

Older versions use Novell's proprietary IPX transport protocol. Moving to a pure, native Internet Protocol environment requires a significant migration effort.

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