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Expect a few bumps in the Linux migration process to Windows Server

What difficulties should I expect in the Linux migration process to Windows servers?

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Always start with a sanity check of existing server hardware and verify compatibility with Windows Server 2012 R2. It shouldn't be a problem for existing 64-bit x86 (x64) servers since almost all 64-bit x86 server hardware should handle the latest version of Windows Server without a hiccup. However, servers based on ARM, Power or other non-x86 processors (or 32-bit x86 systems) will not support Windows Server 2012 R2. When this occurs, it may require a substantial hardware investment to support the Linux migration process to Windows Server.

You'll need to pay for the Windows Server operating system and Hyper-V hypervisor, which also involves recurring licensing and support expenses. Although Microsoft provides several editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 (Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter) to suit any organization size, costs vary depending on the number of server processors running the OS and the number of users accessing the server defined by Client Access Licenses (CALs). Windows Server resellers or VARs can provide detailed pricing information as organizations plan their migration.

A new operating system will probably require new applications. Existing Linux applications including business software and management tools will all need to be replaced with Windows Server versions. Don't underestimate the potential costs involved with such purchases, especially if software is licensed by the number of seats or users in a large enterprise. The data previous Linux programs produced must also be compatible with new Windows applications, and this may require file format conversions when there are incompatibilities.

More granular impacts during the Linux migration process to Windows Server exist as well. For example, Windows Server relies on both an intricate GUI and a robust command line interface (CLI), both of which require time and effort for Linux-savvy administrators to effectively learn. Scripts used to automate important IT tasks will need to be recreated for PowerShell. This can introduce errors and oversights into the environment until scripts are thoroughly tested and refined. In addition, IT staff will need to master the Windows approach to updates and patches to ensure any changes to Windows Server and applications are introduced to the data center environment in an orderly manner.

This was first published in October 2013

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