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Windows Server 2008 migration timing

IT managers who are getting ready to move to Windows Server 2008 from Windows 2000 or 2003 need to justify that the time is right for migrating.

Migrating to a new version of Windows, or to a new version of Office, comes with inherent risks. There are always undiscovered bugs in any software product. Over time, those bugs are flushed out and fixed. The later you migrate, the safer you are, but then you don’t get the benefits of the new features either.

I recall one instance where a customer had large SQL Server databases hosted on a storage system that was hosted on a new generation of server. The customer’s day-to-day business relied on employee access to the databases. A hardware failure caused by the migration took a few days to resolve. While the database was down, the CIO was pressing for a quick resolution because he claimed to be losing US$1 million per hour. When you multiply thousands of employees’ salaries, not to mention lost business, I’m sure he wasn’t far off on his claim.

In this case the customer knowingly took this kind of risk to take advantage of new technology – to be on the “bleeding edge”. There were a number of bugs in Windows and in various drivers that had not been discovered, and they paid for it. For them, however, it was still worth it because of the overall benefits to their business.

When you are planning an upgrade to new technology, understand that there is a risk factor associated with the timing of your migration. To mitigate that risk, many companies don’t go to a new Microsoft operating system until the company releases service pack 1.

On the other hand, there are always new features and benefits that may justify taking those risks. HP, for example, migrated its production Active Directory infrastructure to Windows 2003 at RC1 and has been running for several months on Windows Server 2008 because the company wanted the benefits of new features such as the Read Only Domain Controller.

The key decision point rests on whether the benefits justify the risks, so you must identify areas where the new OS will actually reduce costs. For instance, reducing server downtime will help save money. By preventing outages, Windows shops will maintain access to resources and avoid a gap in user productivity.

Reducing support calls is another area for savings. More reliable hardware, of course is important, but so are quick recovery features in Active Directory and the operating system as well as diagnostic tools, logging and skilled administrators and support staff who can minimise downtime. Keep in mind, too, that some features listed by Microsoft were essentially available in Windows 2003 and 2003 R2 products, with few or no enhancements for 2008.

Before scheduling your Windows Server 2008 migration, keep these important points in mind:

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Microsoft, WS2008, Windows Server 2008, Migration, Schedule

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