It's not Vista: Windows Server 2008 gets nod from IT

Even though most people in a new survey said they will adopt the new server OS, migration will be gradual

Selective service

In most cases, the early adopters are deploying WS '08 selectively in a bid to leverage specific new features in the operating system. While more than half of respondents in the survey said they will follow the usual upgrade schedule, about one in four said they will accelerate adoption for some applications. One in three respondents said that their organizations have a business need for a new feature in WS '08.

Mike Moore, IT principal at Vanguard, says his company has implemented a few WS '08 machines where the new features filled a business need. For instance, Vanguard has servers in place that leverage WS '08's new Network Access Protection (NAP) features. "We'd like to extend that further with the more-granular policy servers that Windows Server 2008 provides," he says. But he doesn't expect to get serious about WS '08 rollouts until sometime in 2009.

Neither does the city of Amarillo's Redman, who says he'd like to see a base of documentation and best practices before moving forward. "The biggest problem is getting useful technical articles out of Microsoft that don't have a lot of marketing hype," he says.

But Ward Ralston, senior technical product manager for Windows Server 2008, argues that plenty of resources exist today. He points to the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Solution Accelerator and to the Microsoft Web Deployment Tool for IIS as examples.

Redman expects to begin migrating to WS '08 within a year. For now, however, he'll stick with Server 2003 when the need for new servers arises. While it's not hard to install the new operating system, it's quite a bit of work to load the fixes and patches and deal with technical support, he says. "If this one is working, why break it? We have 1,500 other things to do," he notes.

Early adopter Pacific Coast, upgraded three server-based applications to WS '08 while participating in Microsoft's beta program. The applications, which include an estimator, a design application and a quality-control application, are all hosted using Terminal Services and have been stable. Because they're critical, however, administrators perform a preventive reboot every month, just to be safe, says enterprise architect Matt Okuma. But he'd like to see the operating system season a bit before he migrates other applications. "Would I run an SAP portal on Server 2008 right now? Probably not," he says.

Like Vanguard, Pacific Coast plans to selectively deploy WS '08 as a replacement for third-party network access control products. "We don't want a fancy environment for network access protection. We just want to know when someone unauthorized has accessed our network," Okuma says.

His organization has also deployed Windows Server 2008's Terminal Services, with its ability to publish applications, as a replacement for his Citrix environment, which was hosted by a third party. The new setup saves on licensing and maintenance costs and performs better. "We've offloaded the cost and maintenance of Citrix. That's why we went to Server 2008," Okuma says. It was, he adds, a "no-brainer."

Broader deployments at Pacific Coast will likely start with Active Directory servers, but that's at least a year away. "We'll stick with Server 2003 in the interim," Okuma says.

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Robert L. Mitchell

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