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Should we use Microsoft migration tools or a third-party resource?

My network group has been asked to look into an Active Directory option instead of NetWare 6. Our current configuration is three Novell 4.12 (yes 4.12) file and print and 24 NT/2000 application servers. We also have about 800 users that would be affected if a migration happened. They are on 9x/NT/2000 desktops.

I have seen the migration tools offered by Microsoft and wonder if these tools will be able to do the job? Or would you recommend a third party utility like NetIQ instead? Which is better, faster migration? Timed migration? And how in the world can a lonely MCSE talk two blood red CNEs into AD?

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With an appropriate amount of planning the Microsoft tools do work. They are certianly not always the answer to some diverse of complex situations. I would suggest some testing -- your major issues will show up there and let you know if you need a more dynamic tool to solve specific problems. NetIQ's tool is a good choice, but make sure that your specific problems are resolved.

The type of migration depends on your criteria. If you are looking to develop a pristine environment for your new Windows 2000 Active Directory, create a parallel environment and move users/resources over a little at a time. This will take some time, but if one of your major requirements is low impact to users, this will be the best way to go. This will also give the IT folks time to get used to AD tools.

If you need to convince people that they need AD, make sure they do. This starts by listing the business reasons for moving to Microsoft's Active Directory. Converting is neither simple nor cheap. But your company will want to make the investment if it wants to do any of the following:

  • Leverage other MS products like Exchange 2000

  • Prepare for .NET and the .NET family of servers (Biztalk, etc.)

  • Merge/acquire companies (often with Windows infrastructures)

  • Develop an Internet presence or Business-to-Business operations

The business drives IT, not the other way around. Make the business case and the rest will follow. Be prepared though, if the business case doesn't support such a move it will be in the best interest of the company not to make it.

This was first published in April 2002

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