Cutting the cost of Windows 2000 migration
(IDG) -- Enterprises that have well designed plans for upgrading desktops will significantly reduce the cost and complexity of migrating to Windows 2000, according to a recent study.
The research, this week released by the Meta Group, concludes that migrations to Windows 2000 Professional, the desktop version of the operating system slated to ship next month, will cost between $700 and $800 per desktop. Considering a host of factors, however, those costs could drop as low as $250 or go as high as $1,800 per user.
The lower costs are likely for users that have a well-managed PC environment and have upgraded hardware on a regular cycle.
"If enterprise users have refreshed their hardware every two to three years the migration costs to Windows 2000 will be much less," says Kurt Schlegel, senior research analyst for the Meta Group.
Enterprises with lots of aging hardware will have to decide to either make one large capital outlay or defer costs over time.
The biggest cost factor for enterprises will be how fast they choose to upgrade their aging PCs to handle the requirements of Windows 2000, according to Meta. Windows 2000 Professional is best run on a Pentium II, 300 MHz machine with a minimum of 128M bytes of RAM, according to Meta. Microsoft's systems requirements, however, are much lower: Pentium-compatible, 133 MHz and 64M bytes of RAM.
Also to save costs, Schlegel recommends users reconsider upgrading to Windows NT Workstation before going to Windows 2000. Meta recommends migrating to Windows 2000 with a clean install and not an upgrade.
In addition, cost benefits are likely for users that have established standard desktops and maintained those environments since they know what to expect on each desktop during migration. A host of other factors also will determine the cost of upgrading, including the size of the migration, PC installed base, user/administrator training, and design and testing. Meta also identified seven labor-oriented cost factors and fourteen capital cost categories that will impact costs.
Schlegel says enterprise users should begin now to invest in a three to four month cycle to design and test desktop configurations in order to smooth upgrades and create a standard desktop "build." Those builds should consider the operating system, browser, applications, hardware drivers and dynamic link libraries.
In addition, users should begin testing their applications on Windows 2000 with an emphasis on any custom applications. "It's difficult to test changes to desktop configurations and know those tests will apply to all your desktops if your don't build a managed PC environment," Schlegel says. He says most users begin by designing a standard desktop configuration but over time they lose that continuity.
With Windows 2000, that continuity will be important to take advantage of such server side features as IntelliMirror, which will allow for automated delivery of software.
Overall, Schlegel says Windows 2000 Professional is pretty stable and users should be able to deploy it with confidence beginning in June 2000.
"Unfortunately, it's a different story with the server," he says. "A lot of the benefit is with IntelliMirror and Active Directory, but it's also where there is a lot of complexity." Meta, like many other consulting firms, is predicting Windows 2000 server deployments won't hit critical mass until next year.
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