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."
A technical staff well-versed in NDS could give companies a head start in rolling out Active Directory, says Poole. "The first thing to understand is Windows 2000 at its most basic level is pretty compatible, philosophically, with NetWare 4 and NetWare 5," says Poole. "People who understand NetWare and NDS are more than technically qualified to be leaders in Windows 2000 migration."
Frost says he had expected to take some heat from NetWare administrators. But they are leading the charge toward implementing Active Directory. NT administrators, though, are having a harder time adapting. "From NT to Windows 2000, that's a huge shift in how things work," he says.
But NDS and Active Directory still have many differences. NDS can be partitioned, but every Active Directory server runs a complete version of the directory tree. And while both directories allow permissions to be "inherited" from parent directories higher in the directory tree, both implement inheritance in a different way -- making a straightforward transfer of administrative permissions and file permissions impossible.
"Some people want to move everything over into [Active Directory], and that's typically not the best way to go," advises Microsoft Consulting Services senior consultant Matt Finger, who works with customers in the design and pilot phases of Windows 2000 migrations. "You need to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. You are migrating data out of the directory, but the way it is laid out is different."