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March 2008


A Choice Decision

Upgrading from NetWare?
The feature-rich Open Enterprise
Server 2 far surpasses Windows Server
Tech Talk 2 by Ken Baker

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As Novell customers consider moving their NetWare environments to Linux on Novell Open Enterprise Server, some feel they should consider all of their migration options as a matter of due diligence. Typically, these other migration options revolve around either Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003. To assist customers in evaluating their options, Novell is releasing a study that identifies key factors involved in upgrading to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 on Linux or migrating to a Windows Server environment.

This article previews some of the key decision factors covered in the study, such as the effort required to migrate to Windows Server versus upgrading to Linux on Novell Open Enterprise Server 2. These factors include planning and deployment, training needs, operational efficiency gains or losses, comparatives cost savings and expenses, and potential risks. While actual results will vary from customer to customer, the data presented in the study—and this article—is derived from actual customer experience, research conducted by Novell Consulting and discussions held with resellers who deploy both Novell and Microsoft server platforms.

General Windows Server 2008 Considerations

Much has been said in the press about the recent release of Windows Server 2008, but the truth is that not much is known about the new Microsoft offering. Will it increase the security, stability and performance Microsoft customers hope for? Will it be a step forward from Windows Server 2003 or simply maintain the status quo? Perhaps it will be similar to the Windows Vista release, which was met with mixed reviews and viewed by some as a clear step backwards. Will it even come close to meeting the high satisfaction levels and expectations Novell customers enjoy, let alone the cost savings and operational efficiencies sparked by a move from NetWare to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 on Linux?

It’s simply too early to make many factual conclusions about Windows Server 2008; however, Windows Server 2008 does include kernel changes that will require in-depth application testing before deployment. This may also create lags in certification by software vendors.

These issues are confirmed by analysts who believe most companies will take eighteen months or more to conduct pilot tests,

verify application compatibility, build new image libraries and train their staff. These predeployment exercises will keep most organizations from deploying the new Microsoft server offering until at least 2009. And, in many cases, the complete migration process will likely take years after that, especially for larger businesses that have hundreds of geographically distributed servers that would be affected by such a migration.

Additionally, when organizations compare Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 with what is known about Windows Server 2008, they find that Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 is more mature and has an unmatched feature set including (but not limited to) storage virtualization (Dynamic Storage Technology), server virtualization and user self-service.

The bottom line is that migrating from NetWare to Windows Server 2008 will not create feature parity with an upgrade to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, and may also open the door to significant potential risks. Organizations considering a migration to Windows Server (or administrators under pressure to do so) should be aware of the cost, time and effort involved in such a migration. Though many unknowns still exist regarding the product, migration challenges and results will likely parallel the information provided for Windows Server 2003 migrations below.

Windows Server 2003 Migration Increases Costs and Risks

Significant cost and effort is required to migrate from NetWare to Windows Server 2003 versus upgrading to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 on Linux. Much of the cost is related to substantial increases in hardware investments required for the Windows Server platform. Additional costs will be required for training administrators and help desk personnel. And, in contrast to the many automated processes available for upgrading from NetWare to Novell Open Enterprise Server on Linux, the actual effort involved in moving to Windows Server is largely manual. Since migration tools are critical to facilitating quick deployment and rapid return on an upgrade investment, Novell is continually enhancing its migration tools to make them even more robust and user friendly.


  • Figure 1

    Effort required to upgrade NetWare components to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 versus migrate them to Windows Server 2003.

  • Figure 2

    Risk involved in upgrading NetWare components to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 versus migrating them to Windows Server 2003.

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