Rebel or Safe? (aka NT4 vs Windows 2000). Your opinion counts

So right now, I'm somewhat in a quandry. "Why John", I hear you ask. "Well readers", I respond: At TechEd Europe this year, I'm going to present a couple of sessions. One will be around the contents of the Solution Accelerator for Consolidating and Migrating LOB (Line of Business) Applications. Here's the official summary of the SA:

This Solution Accelerator package provides technical information and recommendations, processes, build notes, job aids, test scripts, and documented test validation of the processes. The objective of the documentation set is to enable partners and enterprise customers to efficiently consolidate and migrate their existing Windows NT 4.0 based line-of-business (LOB) applications to Windows Server 2003-based technologies, including .NET Framework 1.1, WSRM, and Virtual Server 2005.

Now as it happens, the Virtual Server Migration Toolkit (VSMT) has a big part to play in this in terms of the migration to Virtual Server 2005 solution part. Naturally, I'll be doing a demonstration of a migration live - it's a pretty impressive demo to see live and I always get some great feedback when people see it for real. However, note the particular part of the summary above "...their existing Windows NT 4.0 based". The SA is equally applicable to Windows 2000 (and Windows Server 2003), but doesn't go to town mentioning this. Now, do I (as a Microsoft Employee, remember) stand up and show a Windows NT4 based machine being migrated, which is now "end of life" for want of a better term, or do I bend the rules slightly and show a Windows 2000 Server being migrated. At the UK Technical roadshows over the past few weeks, I've been doing a similar demonstration using Windows 2000 as the server being migrated, simply on account of the "end of life"-ness of NT4.

I'd appreciate a quick comment with your thoughts - play it safe, or be a rebel? FWIW - I'm swaying towards Rebel, but if you were in the audience and saw something which wasn't explicit in the material being talked about, would you mark the session down?

Comments (8)

  1. Frank says:

    The audience could come to the conclusion that the migration from NT4 does make problems and that the presentator silently switched to the W2K migration 🙂

    Why not prepare both and ask the audience which they want to see?

  2. Robert Aitchison says:

    I think there is quite a bit of value in showing NT4.

    There are a LOT of old NT4 systems out there that org’s CAN’T abandon

    The best example I can think of is the old accounting system running on NT4 with a BTRIEVE database that was replaced 3 years ago but needs to be kept around for another few years for reporting purposes.

    Maybe the app doesn’t run on Windows 2000 or 2003 and the hardware this thing sits on is probably 7 years old, occupies 8U of rack space and is about ready to die.

    Even if one didn’t want to virtualize and would prefer to buy new hardware to move the system over it may be a tall order to find drivers for NT4 for a modern server class machine.

    Virtualization is a no brainer for this kind of thing, and the VSMT may allow the IT org to move the app over with a minimum amount of effort and without paying consulting $$$.

    It’s my opinion that the majority of interest for VSMT will be for just this type of scenario .

  3. Simon Jackson says:

    IMHO I reckon that the NT4 example will look more impressive.

    From a business perspective we come across a number of organisations that still maintain NT4 servers for particular applications (HR systems for instance). The customer understands that there’s no MS support for this, but they’ve never needed MS support for the previous 10 years on it, so don’t worry about the fact that it’s not going to be there in the future.

    More worrying for the customer is the fact that the hardware support on their ageing NT4 server has most likely stopped (no replacement disks/controllers etc).

    I see the Solution Accelerator for Consolidating and Migrating LOB Applications, as being the perfect solution in this example.

    The customer can keep the legacy system running, but do so on a supportable hardware platform with replaceable components.

    You can always state afterwards that it also works for consolidating 2000 and 2003 servers.

    To me the biggest benefit we see is getting systems moved off out-of-date hardware. These could be NT4, 2000 or 2003 but realistically in most cases it’s going to be the NT4 boxes.

  4. Andy Hornsby-Jones says:

    I think the NT4 version would have the most impact and would agree with Robert Aitchison comments earlier about companies who might of upgraded a system but for legal/reporting requirements need to have the original version available. But the hardware isn’t up to it or just not available anymore.

    I wouldn’t personally mark a session down for not sticking to the letter as long as it was interesting.

    Go John on be a rebel

  5. Andrew Dugdell says:

    I reckon you stick with NT4. I’ve shown a couple of VSMT demos to people and NT4 gives the biggest "ooooh-aaahh" effect. People assume that if it works with NT4 it must work with 2000 and above. But convincing them the other way around (if you demo 2000) is surprisingly difficult.

  6. Mark Whitby says:

    You definitely need to stay with NT4. From the experience of the organisation I work for, I can echo several of the above comments regarding the need to keep NT4 systems around for reporting, legal or even "it just works – why do I need to upgrade it?" reasons. Removing ageing hardware from our datacentre is definitely a requirement and consolidation of NT 4 to virtual hosts is a part of the plan for us.

    However, I have to say that VSMT didn’t quite work for us as we didn’t want to use ADS. But, we used some parts of VSMT to create a migration process that ties in with our in-house build process.

  7. Wayne Taylor says:

    be a rebel

  8. Fairly unanimous then! I’ll be heading off very shortly to test the demo on a freshly installed NT4 build then. I’ll have the Windows 2000 build to hand just in case the audience on the day thinks differently. Thanks for your comments everyone – I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting the general consensus to be quite that strongly down on the NT4 side. Good to know, so thank you once more.

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