Migration Issues Hamper Windows Server 2003

Compatibility wrinkles complicate Microsoft conversions

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Major software transitions are never easy. And the Windows Server 2003 migration is proving to be no exception.

Not only will Microsoft Content Management Server 2002 and Commerce Server 2002 require as-yet-unreleased service packs to run on the new operating system, but the current SharePoint Portal Server 2001 will not run on Windows Server 2003 at all, Microsoft acknowledged.

That fact is not widely known, but it's also not surprising given the architectural shift in the portal server, solution providers said. Even a SharePoint Portal Server product manager was unsure whether the 2001 edition would run on the new operating system.

At a dead end:
>>%A0SharePoint Server 2001
>>%A0Exchange Server 2000

Source: Microsoft


The incompatibility "is a big deal, but honestly, there's enough compelling new stuff in [SharePoint Portal Server 2003] to make the upgrade attractive," said George Brown, president of Database Solutions, a Cherry Hill, N.J.-based solution provider.

Microsoft's "goal is to provide as seamless a migration as possible" to SharePoint Portal Server 2003 from SharePoint Portal Server 2001, said Erik Ryan, product manager at the Redmond, Wash.-based company. The new version is due late this summer or early fall.

But the migration must encompass major architectural changes to the portal software itself, including a move onto SQL Server from the old Web Storage System on the database side. Also, in SharePoint Portal Server 2003, portal pages,which previously were created and managed in the browser,are now created and displayed using Microsoft's ASP.Net toolset.

The company is working on tools to convert existing WebParts,custom objects stored in the portal,over to the new platform, but Ryan acknowledged that not all of them will make the move. Customers who want to retain existing portal content while also moving to the new portal can utilize a "coexistence option," wherein one server continues to run the older version of the software to provide backward-compatibility for that content, he said.

As for the e-business servers, Microsoft plans to ship Service Pack 1 for Content Management Server 2002 on Aug. 1, which will add support for the new operating system as well as for Visual Studio.Net 2003 and .Net Framework 1.1. Analogous support will be provided in Service Pack 2 for Commerce Server 2002, due for release on Aug. 15, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Integrators who had expected these fixes much sooner were relieved to hear that news. "This is now something we can plan on and,more importantly for ongoing development,something we can work into our proposals," said Richard Warren, vice president and chief solutions architect at Susquehanna Technologies, a Winchester, Va.-based solution provider.

Others said piecemeal migrations are not a huge issue. Most customers "go to 2003 as part of a platform-level change inclusive of SQL, Exchange, etc. ... The combination is what moves, not a piece at a time," said Rick Fricchione, vice president of enterprise Microsoft services at Hewlett-Packard.

SharePoint Portal Server 2001 is not the only dead-ended product. Exchange Server 2000 also will not be supported at all on Windows Server 2003.

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