Migrating from NetWare to Windows 2000

By Dominique Deckmyn, Computer World |  Operating Systems

"We wanted to get to pure IP, which meant moving to NetWare 5.1, and I felt that the move would be more difficult than to start afresh [with Active Directory] in parallel," says Bob Duros, systems and technology manager at the inbound division of West TeleServices Corp. in Omaha. "I had Novell consulting come in and look at my environment, and based on their input, migration to [NetWare] 5.1 had some issues."

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was a pure NetWare and Unix shop until 18 months ago, says NT administrator Don Osborne. The company still has about 23 NetWare 4.11 file and print servers but has started to bring in Windows NT 4.0 servers to run several applications. In order to move to a pure IP environment and solve some persistent problems with its Asynchronous Transfer Mode network backbone, the company needed to either upgrade to NetWare 5 or move off NetWare entirely.

This past spring, Blue Cross/Blue Shield decided to move everything over to Windows 2000, hoping to save on administration costs by consolidating on one network operating system. That meant moving 3,200 users from NDS to Active Directory.

Motivating factors

Most NetWare users -- even those preparing to abandon the platform -- say NetWare is stable and reliable. "There is no real technical reason to move from NetWare and NDS to Windows 2000 and Active Directory," says DiDio. "Active Directory still lags behind NDS in several areas. Novell has had six years to work out the kinks, and they have. There is ZENworks, so you don't need as many third-party tools. There are more experienced administrators."

The problem is that Microsoft's market dominance and Novell's perceived problems are eroding support for NetWare. "You can't argue with 90 percent market share," says Michael Brown, director of technology at Yellow Transportation LLC in Denver, which moved off NetWare and onto NT 4 about a year ago. NetWare "was incredibly stable," he says, adding that he has to reboot his NT servers once per week. Still, Brown says he has no regrets, because "the increased functionality is incredible."

The state of Washington and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. both have ambitious plans to build a central directory infrastructure that departments can plug into -- and they've both picked Active Directory instead of NDS.

Wells Fargo has 20,000 to 25,000 user accounts in NDS -- out of approximately 120,000 total employees. It also had a Windows NT 4.0 domain structure that was reaching its physical limits, says Scott Hall, enterprise engineering manager at Wells Fargo Service Co., the 13,000-strong information technology operation that supplies services to most of Wells Fargo's 120,000 employees.

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