What Does the Upgrade Landscape Look Like for Windows Server 2008

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Will the release of Windows Server 2008 fuel upgrade business for the channel or will the costs put a dampener on new business?

Finally, Windows Server 2008 has arrived, but before you order up those DVDs to insert into your customers' servers there are a few things you need to know.

Firstly, if your customers are running NT or Windows Server 2000, you can forget about an in-place upgrade. Server 2008 only offers an in-place upgrade option for Windows Server 2003, and even then it can be a touchy process.

That's the bad news; the good news is that if your customers can benefit from Windows Server 2008, then there is a hardware sale in the mix, specifically a new server. Add to that the migration process and the typical VAR can net some decent revenue from both hardware and services.

Some may wonder if limited upgrade options are a bad thing, but in reality, by limiting the upgrade scenarios the typical problems associated with upgrades are eliminated. What's more, if customers are running Windows NT or Windows 2000 Server, odds are that they are due for a hardware refresh anyway. For those that are on Windows Server 2003, hardware may not be an issue, but complicated implementations may muck up the works.

For example, if a server is running Windows Server 2003, SQL Server, Exchange and other network applications, an in-place upgrade is probably the last thing a technician wants to attempt. Compatibility and performance issues can quickly rear their ugly heads and put a dampener on the whole process. An even bigger problem can be encountered if an in-place upgrade fails, which could potentially leave customers without a functioning server and could take several unbillable hours to return that customer to the previous version of Windows Server.

The best approach is to start with a new server, running a new installation of Windows Server 2008, and then perform fresh installs of the associated applications and then finally migrate the data over. There are several advantages to this style of upgrade. First off, the new server and new software can be tested outside of the production environment, which will prevent any nasty surprises on upgrade day.

Also, the upgrade can be done in phases, the new server can be brought onto the network and function as a domain controller, and over time, installers can move Exchange or SQLServer or other server applications over to the new server. That allows a path back if the migration fails and also allows multiple or virtual servers to be implemented over time as needed. The whole idea here is to ease the customer's pain, while offering the advanced capabilities offered by Windows Server 2008.

So, by eliminating complex in-place upgrade and migration scenarios, templates and wizards, Microsoft has done the channel a favor by forcing adopters to focus on the new features and not be hampered by legacy workarounds.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com