W2K Replaces Y2K as Campus Issue
Windows 2000, set for release to the general public on February 17, has several components designed to replace Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Server, and Enterprise Server. Contrary to what you may have heard, Windows 2000 is not intended to be a replacement for Windows 95 or 98 for the home or small office user. "Windows Me" (short for Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition) is the new version of the OS for the home/small office market and is scheduled for release later this year.
Currently, most organizations rely on a combination of operating systems from DOS to UNIX, to Windows 9x and NT. Windows 2000 is intended to remedy the complexity of this situation by offering one operating platform capable of performing most distributed computing tasks now performed by Windows and other operating systems (for details on the various components of Windows 2000, see the November issue of the IT Times at http://ittimes.ucdavis.edu/v8n2nov99/win2k.html).
Although Windows 2000 is an improvement over Windows NT, before we make the switch on this campus we need to examine administrative computing processes, identify potential network and security problems, analyze the structure and naming conventions used, and figure out how we add these new components into our structured and complex computing architecture. All this will take several months.
Until these issues are resolved, the Division of Information Technology (IT) and the Campus Technical Leads recommend that campus users hold off on ordering Windows 2000 on new machines and refrain from installing Windows 2000 Server for the next six to eight months, as initial organizational evaluations are published and Microsoft corrects all first-release defects. (According to Gartner Group, a security hole in Windows 2000 has been discovered. All February shipments of the program will contain the bug. A patch is available through Microsoft.)
In the interim, Windows NT 4.0 remains the best choice for providing a reliable, consistent, and architecturally sound departmental operating system. Microsoft will continue to provide support on Windows NT 4.0 at least through 2003, and most major organizations will gradually migrate to Windows 2000 over the next four years. So, please waitt.
Three Good Reasons to Wait
- Windows 2000 is a hardware hog. Although Microsoft claims Windows 2000 Professional can run on a 133 Mhz processor with 64 MB of RAM, preliminary testing indicates that you really need at least 128 MB of physical memory and at least a Pentium II processor (166 Mhz). Further, Windows 2000 Server needs more than 256 MB of memory, a faster and more powerful machine than your basic Pentium II, and one GB of hard disk space. Less than 5 percent of the machines currently on campus match this profile.
- Software has not caught up. Microsoft has created a certification guide for current software application manufacturers to ensure operability with Windows 2000. So far, only five software programs have been certified; 970 have been rated as "ready"; and another 1,340 applications are "planned." The bottom line: virtually none of the software currently installed on the main UC Davis systems is certified by Microsoft to operate without glitches on Windows 2000.
- Different standards. While the campus is standardized on MIT's Kerberos security authentication, Microsoft uses the international Kerberos standard (Kerberos with extensions). In addition, Microsoft designed its directory structure as a combination of DNS, LDAP, and X.500, making it difficult to use other directory systems.
Workgroup To Evaluate Windows 2000
An IT team and the Campus Technical Leads have initiated a project to address how migrating to Windows 2000 will impact our campus. This project consists of three campus-wide workgroups: one charged with developing an overall Active Directory Structure for the campus that will integrate with our existing infrastructure and assure secure and appropriate access to all campus electronic resources; one focused on compatibility testing of the Tier 1 administrative applications such as DaFIS and the Banner Student Information System; and one to develop college/division level Windows 2000 transition planning to support distributed systems administration and to ensure that early adopters plan ahead for later integration into the enterprise-wide architecture.
The IT team has set up two labs, run by the Center for Advanced Information Technology (CAIT) in Shields Library and the Desktop Systems Group located at 3820 Chiles Road, to test software compatibility and the interplay between Windows NT 4.0, UNIX, and Windows 2000 servers. The team is working with the Campus Technical Leads to determine the impact on departments and to develop customized support and training for Windows 2000. The first presentation will be delivered twice on Wednesday, February 16 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in Room 2203 of the Social Science and Humanities building.
For the latest information on Windows 2000 at UC Davis, visit
http://windows2000.ucdavis.edu/. This site includes a comprehensive
description of Windows 2000, links to industry reviews, and advice
for specific groups of users thinking about migrating to Windows
2000. You may submit Windows 2000 questions and concerns to
email@example.com. For questions about Administrative Application compatibility, contact the Desktop Systems Group at (530) 757-8907.
Faust Gorham contributed to this article.