Server or Professional first?

As I travel around the country talking about Windows 2000 (Win2K), people frequently ask, "Should I migrate to Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2000 Professional first?" The short answer is that you should migrate your servers first. Here's why.

First, your chief financial officer (CFO) wants to see quick Return on Investment (ROI), lower total cost of ownership (TCO), better customer support, faster adoption of technology, and happy end users. Your CFO wants your IT shop to be a strategic weapon that moves business strategy forward, makes more money, and leverages technology better than your competitors do. Given these factors, what would happen if you migrated your workstations to Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro) first? At the outset, you'll spend a bunch of money upgrading your client devices to be Win2K-"ready." You'll need approximately 128MB of RAM, a 300MHz or better processor, and Win2K Pro; then, you'll need to add the necessary application software.

You might be able to shorten this process with cloning, but the process will still take a while. After all that effort, you'll have spent a lot of time and money and will have almost nothing to show for it. OK, so your interface will look slightly different and you can run the latest Universal Serial Bus (USB) peripherals, but that won't mean much to your CFO. Are your end users happier? Have you lowered TCO? Probably not.

An Abundance of Features
Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server) is loaded with features that make an administrator happy. Although that situation is great for you, you'll need to position those gains correctly with your CFO. For example, Windows Installer, Remote Installation Services, and IntelliMirror let you configure applications and user information centrally. In fact, if you set up these tools properly, you can theoretically take new PCs and remotely install Win2K Pro and applications on them. The ultimate goal is to configure a PC once and never have to touch it again. Translation: The more you can manage centrally, the less running around you need to do. You'll be able to respond to end users faster and more efficiently.

Terminal Services, which Microsoft has built into Win2K Server, lets you run all applications from the server and send display information to client devices. Administrators who have adopted this technology have told me that they can manage the same number of client devices as they did PCs in a traditional client/server PC environment, and they can do so with an administration staff consisting of 20 percent fewer people. Translation: You can do more work with fewer people and save money.

Automatic Client Updating
Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition (WTS) users tell me that they're not worried about implementing Win2K Pro on the desktop. Remember, they don't need to load Win2K Pro on any client devices. If Win2K is on the server, the clients will use Win2K Pro automatically. Translation: After you upgrade the servers, the clients update automatically—no hassle.

The Choice for E-Commerce
Win2K contains a built-in version of Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 5.0, which is now part of Web Services. Microsoft is positioning Win2K as the business Internet platform—the basic infrastructure you need to build an e-commerce environment. Although you might not be an e-commerce business, you're probably responsible for some part of your company's Web strategy. Translation: Win2K is part of a strategic platform for building Web-based applications.

So, should you avoid Win2K Pro? No, but when you deploy Win2K Server first, your Win2K Pro deployment will be easier, and you'll show your senior managers immediate benefits.