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Commentary: Companies slow to tap Windows 2000 Server

Most companies are finding that fully adopting Windows 2000 Server technologies rapidly doesn't make business sense.

    By Thomas Bittman, Gartner Analyst

    Windows 2000 Server delivered on many of Microsoft's promises for improvements in scalability, uptime and directory services.

    However, most companies are finding that fully adopting Windows 2000 Server technologies rapidly doesn't make business sense. Most companies are deploying the software gradually and pragmatically.

    A single image of Windows 2000 Server can scale to perhaps twice as much workload as can Windows NT--and with high-end server technology such as cellular multi-processing, a single server frame can share technology between multiple Windows images.

    See news story:
    Windows 2000 sales figures only tell part of story
    However, the larger the server, the longer it takes for a company to commit to and fully deploy a new technology, so Gartner doesn't expect to see companies pushing the limits of Windows 2000 Server scalability until at least the end of the year. Also, Windows is being used in more mission-critical roles, yet experienced enterprise skills for Windows are relatively rare and expensive.

    Based on anecdotal results from Gartner clients, Windows 2000 Server is generally three times more reliable than Windows NT. Also, Microsoft did a very good job of removing unnecessary reboot conditions. Where reliability is a problem with Windows NT deployments today, companies are very interested in deploying Windows 2000 Server.

    However, before a company can swap out Windows NT and replace it with Windows 2000 Server, they must thoroughly test all of their applications for compatibility, which can take time and talent away from other projects. Also, many companies may have just spent a tremendous amount of time and skills stabilizing a Windows NT environment, and they aren't willing to throw that investment away.

    Active Directory (AD) is an excellent replacement for the NT domain architecture and allows for domain consolidation. However, to best manage the capabilities and scalability of AD requires a major effort in initial design, requirements and decisions that involve in-house politics (who owns what, who has access to what, and so on).

    Redesigning and redeploying
    Gartner believes that design problems will force 60 percent of AD installations to be redesigned (and redeployed) within 18 months of initial deployment. Furthermore, in the initial offering, AD has limitations that are not very forgiving (for instance, inability to remove schema extensions, lack of partitioning, single schema per forest and absolute domain administrator rights). While AD is scalable, Gartner believes that 70 percent of companies with more than 1,000 users will be forced to implement multiple domains due to these and other problems. Most large companies will be forced to implement multiple forests (Microsoft is an example).

    The bottom line is that AD is complex, skills are scarce, and many companies do not put directory services high on the priority list, compared with e-commerce, customer relationship management and supply-chain efforts.

    Windows 2000 Server (and AD) deployments will continue at a gradual, pragmatic pace, experienced skills will become easier to find, and gains will be made at the very high end--thereby giving this software more credibility with conservative technology adopters.

    (For related commentary on installing and Active Directory, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.