Selling Windows 2000 to the Enterprise

by John Loomes


Windows 2000 has been around for around a year now, depending on who you talk to, take up has been slower than expected...

Windows 2000 has been around for around a year now, depending on who you talk to, take up has been slower than expected. There have of course, been a few major players, who have gone hook-line and sinker for the new o/s - with some sucess it seems as well. Which kind of brings us to the subject of this article - Windows 2000 would appear to be a perfectly sound operating platform, with no major problems reported so far, so why the less than rapid take up?

The problem is - business justification......


When NT 4 came out a few years ago, the world was a different place: Many people were still on 16 bit platforms, with a brave few running NT 3.x. The internet was something that nerds and academics played MUDS on and everyone was starting to talk about Y2k in armageddon-esque tones....

Of course Windows 95 had taken off big time, with its plug and play support, MAC-Os-ripoff user interface and sharp marketing. People wanted more of the same, so when good ol Bill gave us a business oriented version with NT4 - we were all there ready to buy..PC's and RAM were getting cheaper, and the overwhelming desire to standardise computing platforms in large Enterprises coupled with Millennium fears, made Corporates spend-spend-spend on NT4 rollouts. For us in the industry, these were the Golden Years.....

Now things have changed somewhat:

  • Millennium didnt deliver on it's doomsday promise - although of course it's arguable as to whether this is regardless of all the time and money spent on it or becuase of it.......

  • The internet, and more specifically ecommerce, showed promise, but got a 'could do better' on its end-of-year report.

  • The client/server arena is approaching saturation point, and people are starting to wonder what they are spending their money on...

Of course those of us who work in IT see things somewhat differently, Win2k and its ilk are looking forward to a new age, where all information is available anywhere, from any device, and complex systems will eventually virtually maintain and deploy themselves. Persuading the bean counters of this world of these facts however, is proving somewhat more difficult......

Enter Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is an enterprise strength, feature rich, well designed, state-of-the-art operating system. It has many areas of functionality that most people hadn't even dreamed possible just a few years ago. However, thats all very well, but does it deliver on its TCO and productivity claims? It's far too early to tell really, and because of this, and the lack of any other driving factors for upgrades, why should companies spend vast amounts of money moving? Take a look the facts (well my take on them at least...):

Feature Problem
Active Directory Many companies have spent vast sums of money on ERP and HR systems holding this kind of data, why migrate it all to Active Directory? Other people have established directories sych as NDS, which are working fine, thank you very much....
Disk Quota Managerment Disk space is cheap these days, and anyone who is that concerned about it has bought one of the many 3rd party quota management applications already.
Windows Installer/Windows File Protection/Intellimirror These are great technologies! Unfortunately, the cost of getting your old software to work with them is fairly high. This may change as developers adopt these standards. Until then, youre stuck with .dll hell! But cloning technology means that rebuilding broken software isnt that expensive anyway, so who cares?
Virtually Unlimited Account Database Capacity OK for some people, this has been a problem, but this problem doesnt concern the majority of companies - next!

Now all this makes me sound like a terrible cynic. But I make my living from Microsoft Products! Its my job to get people to buy this stuff! Even so, I can in many cases understand the problems IT Departments have in persuading the business why Win2k is the way to go. The general view is that take up will be gradual, at least at first, as companies introduce Win2k slowly during their natural hardware/software replacement cycle, rather than going 'big-bang', like may did with NT4. Looks to me like the Win2k and NT4 will be running in parallel for a few years in most places.

Win2k's Selling Points

Ok as far as Im concerned, here is a list of areas where Win2k is a sure fire winner:

SAM Database Size: Large NT based organisations are currently straining under complicated Domain Designs in order to support the munbers of users they require. Win2k removes this, totally. This type of organisation can really benefit from Win2k.

Application Development: If youre developing new applications, write them for Win2k, and distribute them in MSI format, you'll be much happier. Once you have a critical mass of such applications, a move to Win2k is imminent.

Laptops: Buying new laptops? Dont struggle with NT4, or mess around with Windows ME - get Win2k on there! Youve plug-and-play, Power Management and a host of other goodies!

Messaging: Running Exchange or Lotus Notes? Need better functionality and scalability? Move to Win2k with Exchange 2000, its the way forward!

Productivity: Microsoft's claim is that Win2k can increase productivity as well as decrease TCO. The very reason they are taking this line is the fact that IT is increasingly driven by business, so TCO alone isnt good enough! Win2k DOES have lots of nifty functionality that would appear to make life easier, Ive yet to be convinced that it makes people more Productive though, in many cases, thats a tough thing to measure....

Integration: More than ever before, the companies who buy the Microsoft product line DO get pretty seamless integration between all the products, even more so with the introduction of the .NET strategy (for more info on .NET see my introduction HERE). Using Win2k and .NET it is possible to streamline business processes and 'Web Enable the Enterprise'. Getting there, however, may be easier said than done......


It would seem that the days are gone where you can persuade people to spend vast amounts of money of upgrading software just for the hell of it (shame!!) Windows 2000 needs to be justified, anyone who cares about IT (and we dont care about anyone who doesnt) has most of what they need already (or so they think), so selling somthing like Win2k is a tough job. Win2k WILL rule I think, due to Microsoft's position in the market AND the fact that there isnt really any serious competition at the moment.(I await flames from you UNIX and LINUX losers, but hey I know who keeps ME in work, and it's NOT that Linus bloke...). Anyway I digress,  I think when people do start to bite the WIn2k bullet, then it will be bonanza time! If you thought there was money in NT4, wait till this baby gets going. The thing about Win2k, is that it's SO BIG! This means steep learning curves, but many opportunities for companies and individuals like you and me who are prepared to hang on for the ride....

Further Reading

Read more about Win2k's benefits to business at www.microsoft.com/value

This article was originally published on Jan 11, 2001
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