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Getting Ready to Make the NT 4 Server Jump
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The clock is ticking. NT 4 Server’s day is almost done. Are you ready to migrate your customers to another server operating system?

NT 4 Server’s days are ending. On Dec. 31, Microsoft officially pulls the plug on NT Server support, so it’s time to start migrating your die-hard NT 4 to another server operating system. The question is: To what?


If you believed Microsoft a while back, the answer to all your network resources and universal directory prayers was (W2K) Windows 2000 and (AD) Active Directory. Ah … no.

Upgrading from NT domains to W2K AD was a bear of a job. I personally don’t know of any sizable company that migrated from NT to W2K in less than nine months. Adding insult to injury, these upgrades blew out IT budgets on a regular basis.

It’s no wonder that many companies stuck with NT. Managing multiple NT domains may have been messy, but it worked and didn’t require man-months for a migration that many customers had trouble seeing value in, in the first place.

Besides, under NT, adding more server capability—whether the servers were Unix or Linux running Samba or another NT system as a BDC (Backup Domain Controller) or pure servers—was a piece of cake. Adding W2K Servers to domains via the “Server Manager” on your NT PDC (Primary Domain Controller) was also easy.

That was then. This is now.

eWEEK Special Report: MS Orphans Software

With security problems for Windows operating systems popping up every week, continuing to use NT 4 without some kind of Microsoft support safety net is just asking for your customer to call you up one day with a compromised network.

So it is that today you must find and prove a migration path for your NT customers. There are two main paths: Server 2003 and open-source Samba. Yes, you could do W2K, but, frankly, that path has already been shown to be a lot of trouble, so why bother?

Server 2003 has made AD a lot more friendly, a lot more useful, a lot faster and—last but far from least—a lot easier to upgrade to from NT domains.

Samba, on the other hand, enables you to continue with a domain-style network, has some AD compatibility and lets your customer avoid Microsoft licensing fees.

Of course, you could always trying migrating to Macs, but let’s get real, most of your customers will want to stick with the Intel architecture.

During the next week or so, I’ll go over the pluses and minuses of what I see as the two main migration paths. But, before I go there, let’s go over some of the spadework you’re going to need to do for any migration.

Next page: Getting ready to jump.

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    Getting Ready to Jump.

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