What to consider before migrating to Windows 2000

By Meghan Holohan, Computer World |  Operating Systems

The question of migration really just comes down to a simple equation -- will your costs outweigh your benefits?

At least, that's the advice that Mike Silver, research director at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc., is giving. Silver recently co-authored a study titled: "Is There a Payback in Migrating to Windows 2000" with Ken Dulaney, Kevin Knox and Alden Cushman. The study explores the financial viability of migrating to a new software platform by evaluating several cost-and-benefit models.

Silver said that Gartner expects older editions of Windows to continue to be viable platforms until 2004. While that means some companies won't migrate any time soon, Silver still recommends that they begin to look at how they will phase out their old platform when the time comes.

However, it gets complicated because Microsoft just announced that it will discontinue QFE support in 2001, so people might migrate from Windows 95 sooner. He said he wished that Microsoft would have given more notification of this because, according to Gartner estimates, 30 to 40 percent of the Windows base is Windows 95.

For those companies who are seriously thinking about migrating, Silver says companies should consider several things.

A company needs to look at cost, he said. They need to weigh the cost of hardware, software, training and rollout vs. the benefits of the new platform. Companies also need to look at the return on investment (ROI). If a company expects a ROI within a year, then it should migrate to Windows 2000 as soon as possible, Silver said.

If the company expects a ROI within two years, then a hybrid of Windows 2000 and another platform, such as an older version of Windows, is the best option.

"Managing a multiple windows environment is doable," Silver said. "But if the costs are higher for managing an environment with multiple platforms, then you'll probably want to migrate quicker."

Companies that don't expect to see an ROI in two and a half years shouldn't migrate to Windows 2000.

In general terms, Silver said it's important to remember the following three questions before migrating to a different technology platform:

  • Is the environment manageable today?

  • How important are soft benefits such as system stability to the company?
  • Does the company have a refresh program for its computers?
  • The answers to these questions will determine the company's need for migrating to different technology or not, he said. For instance, if the current environment is manageable then a company shouldn't rush to Windows 2000.

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