Microsoft Floats File Server Migration Kit

Continuing efforts to move existing customers from Windows NT 4.0 to its current Windows Server 2003 operating system, Microsoft on Monday said it has written a file server migration tool kit.

The software eases the migration path of file servers from the legacy Windows NT 4.0 platform, which will be discontinued in December, to the latest Windows server.

The tool is important because roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of the Windows server install base is still running NT Windows 4.0, which means they are “running on very old technology” (4.0 appeared in 1996), said Radhesh Balakrishnan, technical product manager for the Next Generation File and Print division at Microsoft.

Microsoft migration chores have been steadily bumped up in the last several months as myriad customers voiced their concerns and complained about the upgrade. Meanwhile, rival IBM has been aggressively pursuing its own migration strategies to get customers off of Windows and onto to its servers running Linux and WebSphere platform.

The switch to the new architecture results in better performance, which yields greater return-on-investment. A recent VeriTest study shows Windows Server 2003 improves performance of file serving software up to 148 percent on eight-processor systems over Windows NT 4.0.

While file servers have been in existence for years, and are often viewed as storage mechanisms by IT departments, the value of the file server is increasing as data demands on IT staffs increase, Balakrishnan said.

“Given the fact that IT departments are increasingly questioned by user departments to generate business value, a natural question that gets asked when it comes to file serving decisions is ‘can file servers generate business value?'” Balakrishnan told

The tool kit is comprised of two tools: File Server Migration wizard, which helps move data and security settings to Windows Server 2003 from Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 200 and DSS Consolidation Root Wizard, which makes sure drive mappings do not have to be reconfigured.

Going forward, Balakrishnan said Microsoft’s new collaboration and file serving platform, Windows Sharepoint Services 2003, will advance file serving to next step.

Under the old model, users would attach documents into a file share and attached them into e-mail messages, which leads to issues such space and lack of version control. Sharepoint provides a simple, Web-based user interface to keep track of different versions and space.

“Given the fact the Windows Server 2003 and Sharepoint Services together can lead to more of an ROI situation when it comes to file serving, customers and partners have been asking us for an effective mechanism to get to Windows Server 2003 as it applies to file serving,” Balakrishnan said.

Customers can download the free toolkit here. The Redmond, Wash., software giant is also issuing a “solution accelerator” for consolidating and migrating file and print servers.

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