Last week we had the opportunity to participate in a trade show reuniting the IT directors from about 45 organizations, all from the same vertical market. Of these 45 organizations, about 15 of them are still running Novell solutions, including OES, GroupWise and/or ZENworks. Evidently, over the years, many of them have migrated over to Microsoft-based networks.

We had some interesting conversations with a lot of these directors, including those that have moved off Novell products, and because we’ve been attending this trade show for quite a few years, some of them confided in us about their migrations.

To begin with, most of these organizations took an average of 3 years to complete their migrations, even the smaller ones (they range from 1200-5000 users). They realized – once they had started down the path – that it was more than just saying “we’re gonna get rid of Novell and go to Microsoft”. It seems a lot of them had not taken into consideration that it would also involve a major change in their “toolset”: all the little batch files and scripts, third-party tools, workflows and procedures they had built over the years to manage and maintain their Novell infrastructure now had to be, well….thrown out the window! Everything had to be re-invented for the new environment. Not only that, but resources that were very skilled with the Novell software now had to be retrained on Microsoft solutions. Some of them wanted nothing to do with this and left the organizations.

On the OES side, we heard of customers that transferred all of their file and print services to Windows and were now looking for a third-party tool to do what NetStorage used to do for them on OES. Seriously? Not to mention how much more complex it became for them to manage simple file system rights, compared to how easy and powerful these are with eDirectory.

GroupWise: one customer, who had been running a single GroupWise server for all of his 2000 users, went to Exchange and ended up with four servers – for the same number of users! Now, I realize that in an era of virtualization we don’t have to deal with physical boxes to manage, but you still have to patch, maintain and monitor FOUR servers instead of ONE! I’m not great with numbers, but if I do the math, that comes out to, ummm…four times the work!

ZENworks: this is where the most regrets were expressed. Those who actually had ZENworks as an endpoint management solution and moved to Microsoft also adopted SCCM (talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water – ZENworks 11 works just as well in a Microsoft environment!). One customer said, “If I had to do it all over, I would keep ZENworks. SCCM is just such a beast!” Another customer, who’s now in his fourth year migrating to Microsoft, is still running an old ZENworks 7 server (can you spell O.L.D.!) and able to do more with it than his staff has been able to do with SCCM – two years after they installed it!

These are real-life stories and comments, folks, and they make me wonder what these customers are getting from these migrations after all of these resource-sucking, time-wasting, expensive hours/months/years that is so fantastic. Most of them, when talking about their experiences, are not sounding all that thrilled about their new toys.

So…why???

Help me understand!

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