Win 2000 applications
Win 2000 applications<@VM>These 24 apps offer a multitude of functions
The OS has arrived, but are the applications on the same page?
By Larry Stevens
Special to GCN
One thing is certain about Microsoft Windows 2000: With both desktop PC and server versions, the new operating system eventually will replace Microsoft Windows 95, 98 and all versions of Windows NT. What's uncertain is when that process will really gather steam.
The glitz and glitter of Win 2000's Feb. 17 debut was in contrast to the wariness with which many information technology professionals view the OS. Along with the usual concerns about a new product, IT managers also have questions about whether applications are ready to run on the system'or, at least, run well enough to take full advantage of its capabilities.
As of late March, 39 applications from 28 vendors had been fully certified to run on Windows 2000. Microsoft officials said that by June about 100 applications will be certified. They are among thousands of applications that are considered ready or are otherwise targeted for Win 2000.
Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said that in contrast, thousands of applications are certified for Unix. One hundred certified applications 'is a minuscule number when you think of all the applications that run on other Windows versions,' he said. But, he added, certification of products is new to Microsoft Corp., and the company should be commended for initiating it.
Migrating to Win 2000 could be a problem for many agencies. Serious software and hardware issues'the latter are beyond the scope of this article'will cause many IT managers to wait a year or two before moving to the new platform. To decide whether and when to upgrade, agencies will need to understand the extent of the potential problems.
Microsoft has two classifications for third-party software products: certified and ready. Applications in the ready category have met the same standards they had to meet to support Win98 or NT. The vendor simply has to state that it tested the application for Win 2000 compatibility, that it works under that OS, and that it stands ready to provide Win 2000-related product support. Microsoft says about 4,000 applications are ready.
Certification goes much further. To attain that classification, an application must meet all standards in the Win 2000 Application Specification and their compliance with the standard must be verified by an independent tester, VeriTest Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif.
Applications that meet this specification not only work under Win 2000, they take advantage of the technologies in the OS. This Buyers Guide lists enterprise-level applications, a few of them certified or scheduled to be certified, most of them still in the ready stage.
The Application Specification for Windows 2000 has two versions: one for client applications and one for distributed applications.
The Client Application Specification handles management features, including those that affect application installation, shared computers and remote administration.
It calls, for example, for a self-repairing installation that helps minimize conflicts among components that share Dynamic Link Library files. It also requires that the application keep user preferences and computer settings so that many users can share a single computer; this lets one user replicate preference settings on many machines, and all users can bring their preferences with them when moving to other PCs.
The specification also requires that the application make a smooth upgrade from a previous version of Windows. And in order to make support of a mixed environment easier, it requires the application to provide the same specification benefits to people using the application on platforms such as Win98 or NT 4.0.
The application should also run in a tightly controlled network environment. For example, PCs must be configurable to adhere to group policy when taking actions that change desktop PC makeup, such as reconfiguring network settings.
The Server Application Specification also requires self-repairing installation to minimize conflicts among shared components. It also lists features that make it easy to find resources through an enterprise network'through its Active Directory Service, for example'and it requires a central means of configuring and monitoring computers and applications.
In addition, both specifications include best practices features that are strongly encouraged, though not strictly required for certification. The best practices recommendations include, for example, that the application not require a reboot for installation; that it includes globalization features to let the software accommodate any area'for example, by changing the format of the date, time and monetary currency'and that it have localization features such as multiple languages.
Certification has benefits for user organizations, but one reason so few applications are certified could be that the process of getting that designation is neither easy nor cheap. The cost of testing is based on the complexity of the application and factors such as whether Active Directory or best-practices testing is needed. It ranges from $15,000 to about $48,000 for server applications and $5,200 to $10,400 for desktop PC applications.
Each product must be submitted with complex paperwork, including a certification summary that details the application's compliance with the specification, lists any exceptions the vendor is requesting and spells out which of the best-practices suggestions have been adopted.
A lack of certification does not mean an application won't run under Win 2000. Some vendors simply don't think it is worth the time and expense to get certified. 'So few companies are going through this certification process, we've decided to wait as well,' said a spokeswoman for one vendor, who spoke under condition of anonymity.
Even IBM Corp. has not certified any of its applications. At a press briefing, IBM marketing manager Adam Jollins said that his company has no plans to certify any of its applications for Win 2000 unless users request it. As of this writing, IBM has 42 ready products, including 11 versions of DB2 and 12 VisualAge products. Jollins said that so far only MQSeries exploits any of the new features of Win 2000.
Microsoft doesn't appear worried by the relatively small number of certified applications. A company spokesman said recently that Microsoft had tested the best-selling 500 ready applications and 'we know they work.'
If an application is listed as ready on the Microsoft Product Compatibility Web page, at www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/compat/search
, it means the vendor has signed a legal agreement that the application has been tested.
'To date, we haven't had a single customer say a ready app doesn't work,' the spokesman said.Developmental delay
If it seems vendors are slow in getting certified, IT developers are also slow in writing to the new OS. A survey by Evans Marketing Services of Santa Cruz, Calif., found that, overall, 60 percent of development managers plan to delay writing applications for Win 2000 until next year or later, and 31.7 percent say they expect to never write Win 2000 applications.
The survey also found that 27 percent of managers running NT on client computers in their companies don't plan to write Win 2000 applications, and 55 percent of the NT users won't write Win 2000 apps until next year or later.
In large part, IT managers are playing a waiting game with the new OS. Even one of the best reasons to upgrade to Win 2000'its Active Directory Services Interfaces'is also seen as a good reason to wait a bit before making the move.
ADSI attempts to solve the problem of working with multiple directories by providing a single, open set of interfaces. That's good news for network managers, who will be freed from having to support multiple interfaces.
And it's good news to users, who do not have to perform multiple log-ons to different directories. The bad news for developers is that upgrading to Active Directory can require months of planning and work.
An enterprise directory service can help consolidate directories. Most large agencies have a variety of network resource directories, such as a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol-based directory, Microsoft Windows Directory Service, StreetTalk from Banyan Worldwide of Westboro, Mass., and Novell Directory Services from Novell Inc., as well as e-mail and groupware directories.
Microsoft hopes that ADSI will be to directories what Open Data Base Connectivity is to relational databases: an open interface that allows developers to write applications and tools that work with any directory.
|Tips for buyers|
'Upgrading to Windows 2000's hierarchical Active Directory can require months of planning and work.
'Applications that are certified for Win 2000 not only work under the new OS, they take advantage of its new technologies.
'Applications that are deemed ready come with the vendor's assurance that the product works under Win 2000 and that the vendor will provide Win 2000-related product support.
'Best-practice features such as reboot-free installation and globalization tools are encouraged but not required for certification.
'A lack of certification does not necessarily mean an application won't take full advantage of Win 2000; some vendors have decided it's just not worth the time and expense to get certified.
Unlike NT 4.0's flat directory, the Win 2000 Active Directory arranges domains in a hierarchical, treelike structure that, like Novell's NDS, more accurately reflects the structure of most networks.
Active Directory also can further divide domains into organizational units that are made up of other units or of objects, such as users, printers or faxes.
This structure is much easier to administer, but the move from a flat to a hierarchical directory requires careful planning. Once you've created the outline, you have to determine how all the NT 4.0 domains will fit in.
A major problem is that if you want to get the full benefit of Win 2000's management, remote-access and security features, you have to migrate all of your NT domains at once and run them in what Microsoft calls native mode. Active Directory can coexist on a network with NT domains. In this mixed mode, domain information is replicated using the traditional flat format that NT understands.
Microsoft has spent $1 billion and more than three years of effort on Win 2000. It's a worthy successor to NT, and the company has committed 175 people to look after application compatibility.
The good news is that there is no rush. By waiting until the applications you need are ready and by carefully planning the migration to Active Directory, your agency can upgrade problem-free.Larry Stevens of Monson, Mass., is a free-lance writer and reviewer of information technology products.
|Company||Product||Status: certified, ready, or when certification is expected||Description||Features that take advantage of Windows 2000||Price|
|Extra Enterprise 2000 ||Third quarter 2000||Delivers host applications and data to desktop PCs running Windows from 3270, AS/400, Unix and VMS systems||None||Not set; beta version available for testing|
|CommVault Systems Inc.|
|Galaxy 1.2||Third quarter 2000||Supplies enterprisewide storage management for client-server environments||Protects Win 2000 components and objects such as system state, directory mount points and links, single instance storage, remote storage services and all file types||$1,000 per server|
|Computer Associates International Inc.|
|Unicenter TNG 2.2||Ready||Manages heterogeneous networks, systems, desktop PCs, databases and applications||None||$2,500 up|
|AutoSys 3.5||Ready||Centralizes and automates the scheduling and management of jobs in distributed Unix, NT and Win 2000 environments||None||$7,500 up|
|Unicenter Advanced Help Desk 4.0||Ready||Streamlines the identification, tracking and resolution of end-user problems||None||$6,900 up|
|Environmental Systems Research Institute|
|ArcView GIS 3.2||Ready||Provides complete desktop geographic information system functions||None||$1,195|
|ArcInfo 8||Ready||GIS relational database can be used for real-time emergency vehicle tracking and park design||None||$10,000 up|
|Manifold Net Ltd.|
Carson City, Nev.
|Manifold System GIS 4.5||Ready||Provides complete GIS and mapping functions||None||$145 per seat|
|Manifold 3D View Studio 1.00||Ready||Interactive system visualizes and analyzes databases in 3-D, including automatic visualization of terrain elevations||None||$75|
|Miramar Systems Inc.|
Santa Barbara, Calif.
|Desktop DNA v2.0||Ready||System migration application lets users retain and reapply personalized Windows system and application settings, applications and data files||All scripts are Win 2000-ready ||$49 per seat or lower|
|Navision Software US Inc.|
|Navision Financials 2.60||Certified ||Lets system administrators control setups and security and perform installations from a centrally located Active Directory||Written specifically for Win 2000 Active Directory||To be determined; product not yet released|
|RUMBA 2000||Third quarter 2000 ||Connects desktop PC running Windows to virtually any host computer across any network||Takes advantage of the manageability features of Active Directory, allowing configuration and control of user access to corporate data ||$250 up|
|Ontrack Data International Inc.|
Eden Prairie, Minn.
|Ontrack SystemSuite 2000||Ready ||Utility keeps PC users' systems operating at peak performance||None||$60|
|EasyUninstall 2000||Ready||Safely removes unwanted PC files and programs||None||$30|
|OTG Software Inc.|
|DiskXtender 2000||third quarter 2000||Automatically migrates least-used data to less expensive storage media while retaining more frequently used data in magnetic cache for immediate access||New server agent architecture, configurable media services and additional device support||To be determined; product not yet released|
|Owensville Systems Inc.|
|LANScan Network Monitor 1.61d||Ready||Provides network monitoring and diagnostics||None||$295|
|LANScan Traffic View 1.61d||Ready||Tests network connectivity and responsiveness, reports Internet access||None||$79|
|Statistica for Windows 5.5||Ready||Graphical, statistical system features tables, nonparametrics, multiple regression and nonlinear estimation techniques||None||$1,995 up|
|Veritas Software Corp.|
Mountain View, Calif.
|Backup Exec for Windows NT/2000 8.0||Ready||Provides backup functions compatible with NT and Win 2000||Provides protection and recovery for new Win 2000 components including system state (Active Directory, System Boot Files, COM+ Class Registration Database)||$795 up|
|WebTrends Enterprise Suite 2.0||Ready||Analyzes traffic for Web , streaming media and proxy servers; provides link analysis ||None||$1,999 |
|Wise Solutions Inc.|
|InstallMaster 8.0, InstallBuilder 8.0, InstallMaker 8.0, InstallManager 1.5||Ready||Software installation tools identify and eliminate file conflicts and related rollout risks before distributing software to end users ||Includes an enhanced add-and-remove program and configuration checking for Win 2000||$682 to $1,541|