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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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Increased Server Hardware Investment

In our research, we talked to solution providers experienced with both Novell Open Enterprise Server and Windows Server 2003 deployments. According to them, the ability of Novell Open Enterprise Server on Linux to support 1,000 or more file and print users provides customers a significant savings in server hardware. Windows Server 2003 not only requires more physical servers for file and print, but the investment increases even more when you consider the hardware requirements for hosting other Microsoft networking services.

Because of resource conflicts, many of the services in a Windows Server 2003 environment must run in isolation from each other. To support file and print, directory, e-mail, desktop and server management, and edge services in a Windows Server environment with clustering, the following would be a best-case scenario of the minimum and recommended server requirements:

  • Active Directory and DNS with redundancy—Minimum 1 server; recommended 2 servers
  • File and print, and DHCP—Minimum 1 server; recommended 2 servers
  • Exchange (back-end)—Minimum 1 server; recommended 2 servers
  • Exchange (front-end)—Recommended 1 server
  • Systems Management Server—Recommended 1 server

The comparable networking services in a Novell Open Enterprise Server environment not only have the ability to run on a single machine, but running all the needed networking services on a single machine is a typical usage scenario. Adding clustering into the equation raises the hardware count to only two machines, versus the recommended eight servers required for Windows Server 2003.

When the hardware acquisition and maintenance costs are taken into consideration, many organizations can expect to realize hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings by upgrading to a Novell Open Enterprise Server environment running Linux rather than migrating to Windows Server 2003. The hardware investment gap widens even more when you factor in server virtualization.

SAN Duplication and Storage Space Doubling

If there is a SAN in the NetWare environment, plan on even more hardware expenses to migrate to Windows Server 2003. To migrate a SAN to Windows, you might think you can simply create a smaller array on the SAN, migrate a portion to the Windows side and then decommission it on the NetWare side, repeating the process until it's completely moved. Unfortunately, in most cases that’s not possible.

When migrating a SAN to Windows Server 2003, you must migrate one complete logical unit number (LUN) at a time. Because most organizations set up their SANs as a single LUN, the entire SAN must be migrated all at once. This means before migration, a fully functional source and target SAN must exist. And this likely requires the purchase and installation of a completely new SAN as the target for an organization’s SAN migration.

Based on cost figures from the Storage Performance Council,

an average SAN acquisition cost is US$125 per gigabyte. For a 10-terabyte SAN, that equates to a minimum one-time acquisition cost of US$1,250,000. These acquisition costs do not include the additional expense associated with deployment and space requirements.

In addition to the acquisition costs associated with just migrating a SAN to Windows Server 2003, you should expect additional costs to meet the basic storage requirements for Windows Server 2003. Based on discussions with customers and solution providers, moving data from NSS volumes to NTFS volumes on Windows Server can result in a doubling of storage requirements.

Manual versus Automated Migration

In addition to the increased hardware investments required for a migration to Windows Server, you'll also spend a lot more time and effort than you would upgrading NetWare to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2. Migrating to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 is a straightforward and highly automated process, which is basically transparent to the end user. But the majority of the processes for migrating to Windows Server 2003 are manual—and in some cases require end-user interactions before they can be finalized.

For example, moving Novell eDirectory accounts to Linux on Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 requires some minimal prep work, for example, performing health checks and bringing trees up-to-date, followed by an automated synchronization process. But to move those user accounts to Active Directory requires significant up-front planning and design of the Active Directory domain structure. The actual process for moving accounts from eDirectory to Active Directory is primarily a manual and considerably time-consuming operation. Each desktop must be manually joined to Active Directory domains. Plus, users will have to manually reset their own passwords.

Moving directory services isn't the only example of extreme disparity in the effort required to migrate to the two different targets. Moving a NetWare NSS storage volume on a SAN to Linux is a simple matter of dismounting it on NetWare and then mounting it on Linux. But as previously mentioned, migrating a SAN to Windows Server 2003 requires you to invest significant time and effort.

Some manual migration efforts for Windows Server 2003 will include the need to touch every workstation in your organization, removing the Novell client and recreating printer profiles. These tasks will also require an update to all desktop and laptop images.

The bottom line is that the majority of the services that must be migrated from NetWare to Windows Server 2003 will require considerable manual effort. But migrating those services to Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 on Linux requires relatively minimal effort, because most operations are automated. Additionally, a Windows Server 2003 migration not only requires a substantial investment in time and resources, but its highly manual nature also introduces significant risks into the process. Manual processes are inherently subject to an increase in human errors, while automation tends to minimize errors and their associated impacts.Figure 1 and Figure 2


  • Figure 1
  • Figure 2

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