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If you’ve got to migrate, make it worth the trouble.

That’s the attitude some Windows NT 4.0 users have in light of Microsoft Corp.’s plan to cease support in the coming months. “Customers are saying, ‘While we are going through this, let’s integrate all these other things we need to do: SAN, NAS, e-mail archiving, network redesign, new backup/recovery [solutions],” said Jim Geis, director of system solutions and services at Forsythe Technology Inc., a solutions provider based in Skokie, Ill. “They’re taking the one-fell-swoop approach.”

Thomasina Ivy, president and chief executive officer, at Milwaukee-based TMI Consulting LLC, has also seen organizations endeavor to get the most out of their migrations. A healthcare client, for example, used its NT migration as an opportunity to upgrade a patient billing system and revise the disaster recovery plan for that application, Ivy explained.

Customers, she said, are asking themselves “How do we take this migration process and add some value to it?”

Geis reports that his company is helping several customers migrate from NT 4.0. He said those organizations have been running their basic information technology infrastructure applications on NT: e-mail and other office services.

“I’m kind of surprised it’s not happening faster,” Geis said of NT-related migration activity. He expects business to pick up during the second half of 2004, however.

Business could be considerable as hundreds of thousands of NT 4.0 servers continue to chug away. Distributors have been encouraging resellers to see this as an opportunity to sell consulting services as well as hardware, software and storage.

Of course, some customers are looking to migrate from NT on the cheap, while others, like BITS, a nonprofit consortium of 100 of the United States’ largest financial institutions, have managed to talk Microsoft into continuing to provide custom support for NT 4.0 for a price.

Forsythe, however, didn’t need much prompting to try to start getting NT customers to upgrade. The company has been making a concerted effort in the Windows enterprise solutions area, Geis said. And while it’s a rare customer who looks forward to platform migrations, change can be good—even if it means putting time-tested NT 4.0 to rest.

The NT 4.0 sunset is “allowing a lot of people to take a step back,” Geis noted. “It’s kind of a good opportunity, in a way, to do a huge clean-up of your environment.”

So some customers may benefit from the end of NT. Whenever that might be.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from TMI Consulting.