Education is an early adopter of Win 2000

Education is an early adopter of Win 2000

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

The Education Department will start migrating its client PCs to the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system this fall.

Chief information officer Craig B. Luigart said this month that he feels a bit apprehensive at being an early government adopter of the new platform.

'The payoff is in stability and better management and better access for the work force, especially in the heterogeneous environment that we work in,' he said.

Education CIO Craig Luigart says the department paid attention to lessons learned by others' upgrades.

Last spring, shortly after the release of Win 2000 Professional, Education information technology staff tested it on about 50 machines, Luigart said.

The testing confirmed that low-end hardware could run the new OS, albeit with some difficulty. Faster processors and more memory made it run more smoothly.

Bare minimum

The IT staff established a 266-MHz Pentium or compatible processor and 128M of RAM as the minimum hardware requirements for the department's future Win 2000 systems, Luigart said.

They also conducted real-world tests on several dozen desktop computers at the National Center for Education Statistics, Luigart said.

Based on the in-house testing and reports from industry analysts, officials decided to roll out Win 2000 to desktop computers first and to servers later.

They took into account lessons learned from other organizations' experiences over the past six to eight months, Luigart said.

In fiscal 2001, Education will order new desktop computers preloaded with Win 2000 and other applications deemed mission-critical for particular offices, Luigart said.

Education buys desktop systems principally from Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp.

Because the department has a three-year replacement cycle, it's possible that as many as two-thirds of its desktop machines will require a manual upgrade from Windows 95 or 98.

Luigart said he would like to see the migration finished by the middle or end of fiscal 2001, but he does not want to be held to a strict schedule.

'It's more important to have a clean transition,' he said.

Education is 'principally an Intel shop' with a mixture of Windows 9x and Windows NT plus a smattering of Unix servers, Luigart said. The department also maintains about 500 Apple Macintoshes because of the platform's popularity in the education community.

Luigart said he expects Windows 2000 Server's Active Directory to improve communication between the Macs and the rest of Education's systems.

During the pilot phase, the staff worked with Win 2000 migration tools from Aelita Software Corp. of Powell, Ohio.

Wizard's promise

Luigart said Aelita's Domain Migration Wizard showed promise for helping with the future server migration, which probably will begin late next year.

It will be more complex than the client changeover, and Luigart said he doesn't expect it to be finished during 2001.

Education officials also are examining ways to consolidate numerous small databases and business process applications that will remain separate from the Win 2000 migration.

Luigart predicted the new OS would give department users enough computing horsepower for small database applications. He declined to comment on whether the department might eventually need a server OS on the scale of Windows 2000 Advanced Server or Datacenter Server.

Based on what the leading presidential candidates have been saying about education issues, the next administration might expand some Education Department programs, Luigart said, and officials are taking that into account in planning their near-term computing needs.


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