The Tide Shifts . . .

As tends to happen with fast growing companies with demanding shareholders, there were some major changes in the ranks of upper management. With those changes came a more disciplined approach to cost structures and an increased scrutiny on exploding expenses such as IT budgets. It so happened that in the bi-annual review, one of the topics of discussion was the proposed transition to Windows 2000. Microsoft had proposed a very comprehensive package, but the cost conscious team leaders were hit with a fairly serious case of sticker shock. The decision was made to pull together the primary department heads, key IT staff and a team of Microsoft representatives to go over the possibilities.

After extensive meetings, some significant concerns began to surface. The proposed transition to Windows 2000 would be much more than a simple upgrade, but would actually constitute a paradigm shift in the way domains and assets were handled and managed. Active Directory (AD), a new and ambitious idea, was certainly not well established and at this point in the discussion, did not really seem ready for prime time. There appeared to be many unanswered questions on the MS side, and their "leap of faith" mantra was falling on skeptical ears.

According to the MS proposal, the transition to AD would eventually involve a complete shift of all internal systems to updated software, in part because Active Directory was not designed to be backward compatible with earlier Windows 9x client software. At the urging of MS, the company had earlier made a very substantial investment in the Primary Domain Controller (PDC) and Backup Domain Controller (BDC) paradigm established by earlier NT iterations. They had purchased the machines and the licenses, had passed dozens of their IT staff through the extensive training outlined by Microsoft and had literally worked years to develop a functioning asset management program utilizing IBM's Tivoli software. A change to the AD model would require another huge cash and resource infusion, and might possibly negate many of the benefits realized from the earlier investments in the PDC/BDC model.

As if all of this was not "Red Flag" enough, there would be some serious changes in the licensing agreement that would now cover all types of external and internal network accesses including terminal services, remote dial-in and the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN's). Further, another proposed modification would take into account the number of accesses and transactions conducted over servers using MS hosting software. When it was all put together, the cost implications were absolutely staggering.

One Tale of NT's Journey Into Corporate America Sink, Swim or Tread Water?

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