Microsoft has launched Windows Server 2003 detailing huge cost savings for NT 4.0 users who migrate to the new platform and showcasing the results of seven Australian customers that have already deployed it.
Spruiking features, functionality and TCO numbers, Microsoft Australia managing director, Steve Vamos, said Windows Server 2003 deployments showed customers could run their server infrastructure up to 30 per cent more efficiently than NT 4.0; deployment was 50 per cent cheaper and downtime was reduced eight-fold.
When it comes to TCO, one customer claims it will save $1 million over 12 months. DNV Australia IT manager, Darren Warne, said the Active Directory infrastructure was far superior to NT 4.0.
"It is saving us a huge amount of time when it comes down to software and hardware management," he said.
Admitting the launch is directly targeting NT 4.0 laggards, which the company estimated accounted for more than 50 per cent of their user base, Vamos said IT maintenance costs were eating into about 70 per cent of IT budgets and the amount of money available for new product purchases.
He said Windows Server 2003 would reduce that burden by some 20 per cent.
Worley global IT manager, Vito Forte, said while the company was using beta 2 code the product had certainly been robust.
"Under Windows NT 4.0 we were resigned to rebooting machines on a regular basis, but since migrating to Windows Server 2003 we haven't had a problem at all," he said. "The servers have been in for over four months now and we've literally had 100 per cent uptime."
Acknowledging some users were reluctant to make the shift and analysts forecasting the adoption rate at about 12 per cent over the next 12 months, Microsoft Australia's IT infrastructure manager, Calum Russell, said NT 4.0 users were living in a static world.
Russell expected take up to be as high as 20 to 30 per cent based on customer feedback, but was unwilling to disclose company estimates.
"It is not a matter of if, but when," Russell said. "I don't want to speculate on projected adoption figures but we expect the biggest uptake from NT 4.0 users, obviously Win2000 will take longer."
He said NT users had "learnt to live with a lot of things that aren't necessary", because in a competitive enterprise it was just "not good enough".
To convince IT managers to migrate, Microsoft was staging a national roadshow that begins in Melbourne on May 1. More than 6000 Australian customers have already registered.
Designed to meet high-end enterprise workloads, Windows Server 2003 is the first release to support Intel Itanium 64-bit systems.
Microsoft has improved Active Directory and allowed customers "to script just about everything" emphasising server consolidation and automation.
The company's Windows Server product manager, Michael Leworthy, said customers could double the number of users on a single server and consolidate applications down to a centrally managed site.
Talking about the 'sociability of apps', Leworthy said SQL, Exchange and Oracle did not always play well together and the Windows Systems Resource Manager controlled how applications operated with each other.
Russell said Microsoft's channel strategy, including its partners and distributors, would remain the same for 2003 as for the Windows 2000 range of products.
Unlike Windows 2000, however, the Windows Server 2003 products would contain an activation key, meaning customers must activate the software before being able to use it.
The means of acquiring an activation key will depend on the type of license the customer holds. Russell said that if customers bought a new license for Windows Server 2003, either from Microsoft’s distributors or hardware partners, they would receive the activation key included with the product or license.
If, however, users already had Windows Server 2000 and had bought Microsoft’s Software Assurance option, which provided customers with the license to run Windows Server 2003, they would need to get the key from Microsoft.
“In this case there is no unique license which is delivered to the customer as they get media through their Select CD set or from a CD kit through fulfilment," he said. "They have to get the key from calling our call centre."
According to Microsoft’s Web site, activation key technology is a means of checking that the users' product key has not previously been used before, that it's genuine and that the customer is not trying to run the software on more systems than allowed on the user license.
Russell said Windows Server 2003 was available now in retail stores as a fully packaged product.