Win2000 laps business apps: Lagging applications, updates extend planning horizon

By Michael Lattig, InfoWorld |  Operating Systems

NOW THAT Windows 2000 is out of the blocks, corporations must wait while the rest of the Wintel software world -- and Microsoft itself -- catches up by releasing products that complement the software giant's "bet the farm" operating system.

Only about 30 applications currently can leverage all of Windows 2000's features -- particularly Active Directory (AD) -- and Microsoft's own Windows 2000-centric BackOffice family is months away from delivery. In fact, Oracle is expected to deliver Oracle8i, Release 2, this March, and IBM intends to ship DB2 for Windows 2000 within the same time frame -- a full three months ahead of Microsoft's plans to deliver SQL Server 2000.

Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to release service packs for Windows 2000 on a regular six-month basis, giving IT managers plenty of time to plan for them, according to Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Windows development. These service packs, in a policy that marks a shift from NT, will no longer include new features, and administrators will be able to "slipstream" them into their systems.

The regular schedule for service packs may actually serve as an incentive for many potential users to delay upgrading to Windows 2000, particularly if corporations are heeding the advice of research companies such as the Gartner Group, which recommended delaying deployment until the first service pack is released.

A sampling of users and industry analysts at this week's Windows 2000 Expo in San Francisco indicated that IT shops will need plenty of time to deploy and learn Windows 2000.

"There are enough compatible applications at launch so that Windows 2000 will not suffer as a result," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at the Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group. "With BackOffice, there is plenty of time to resolve issues, particularly with Active Directory design."

Microsoft has a long list of Windows 2000-centric products due out this year -- including Exchange 2000, SQL Server 2000, Host Integration Server 2000, Application Center 2000, BizTalk 2000, and Commerce Server 2000.

But not everyone is optimistic about the tight coupling of Windows 2000's AD with other forthcoming Microsoft products.

Michael Rzesztko, a senior technical specialist at systems integrator BV Solutions Group, in Overland Park, Kan., said the tying together of products is a "typical Microsoft" maneuver, but this time may pose more of an issue because of the sheer size of Windows 2000.

That, Rzesztko said, will make deploying the OS a lengthy task and could mean customers are not yet ready to implement the other technologies, such as Exchange 2000, when they hit the market this summer.

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