However, Wells Fargo had an added incentive to choose Active Directory: The bank had been invited by Microsoft to participate in the Joint Development Program, which gave it the ability to closely follow and influence the development of Windows 2000.
After 18 months, Hall's group has completed its Active Directory migration and rolled it out on 30 hulking eight-CPU servers with 8GB of RAM each - enough to keep the company's 120,000-user, 1 million-object, 4GB directory in memory. "We went with the best we could have," says a proud Hall. "What's a couple of extra grand in hardware?"
Each of Wells Fargo's lines of business has its own funding and IT plans. "When they're ready, we're ready for them," says Hall. "We're the core infrastructure that everyone can plug into and that we guarantee will be up always."
Washington state's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) had similar plans, recounts enterprise networking manager Mike Frost. His nine-person team is responsible for running the agency's Microsoft Exchange e-mail system and its new Active Directory service. The department consists of eight administrations and 26 divisions, all of which will eventually plug into the directory.
"We already had a large foundation of Microsoft networkingg and e-mail, so [Active Directory] was a natural evolution," says Frost. One of the agency's divisions is currently testing a 6,000-user NetWare and GroupWise site. The rest of the agency is mainly using Microsoft Exchange.
Other companies may have other motives for migrating to Windows 2000 and Active Directory. The desire to roll out Microsoft Exchange 2000, which requires Active Directory, and to integrate other application servers into a single directory structure are two such factors.
"[Microsoft Exchange 2000] is definitely going to be a catalyst," says Silver. "Some people are using a future Exchange migration to justify a Windows 2000 change."
The NetWare User Challenge
Microsoft has made it technically easy to upgrade from NT to Windows 2000. But NT administrators face a huge task adjusting to the concept of a directory. For NetWare shops, the challenges are different.
"From NetWare to [Windows 2000], the biggest problems are not technological," says IBM's Poole. "The biggest issues are centered around brand loyalty. People like me who are [Certified NetWare Engineers] and spent a lot of time and money on that -- having to replace that with [a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification] makes people unhappy. When you get past brand loyalty and [anti-Microsoft] prejudice, NetWare people get interested."