Implementing BackOffice Server 2000: Part 1

Since beginning this column, I've received a lot of email concerning how to implement BackOffice Server 2000. Many organizations look to BackOffice Server 2000 to provide the infrastructure to move their business into the next 5 years and beyond.

One such business is Hawaii Instrumentation & Controls (HIC), located in Honolulu. HIC wants to build and integrate a new server to run BackOffice Server 2000 and support 30 users, with the possibility of adding 10 or more users within the next couple of years. HIC is a quick-moving company when it comes to IT; in fact, HIC wants to implement BackOffice Server 2000 before year's end.

HIC has an existing Novell NetWare server from which the company will migrate user accounts. The Novell server will run accounting software for the accounting department. GroupWise, Novell's network messaging solution, is currently running on the Novell server, and HIC wants to move to Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server. HIC also plans to host a low-traffic Internet site using the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service already in place, and install and develop an intranet site for internal collaboration. In addition, a firewall/router device is in use at this location.

Bob Weaver, a consultant working with HIC, has designed a very complete BackOffice Server 2000 implementation plan. He asked me some questions that mirror many of those I've received—concerning licensing and pricing. In that spirit, let's look at a two-part case study of HIC's move to BackOffice Server 2000.

Stepping Up for Less
Weaver was familiar with a common Microsoft tactic to entice customers to upgrade to a future product version, called the Technology Guarantee. This guarantee usually lets a customer purchase the current, shipping version of a software package and then step up to the future version when Microsoft releases it for little or no cost. I generally recommend taking advantage of this offer when it's available, and HIC's situation is no exception.

My sources haven't been able to confirm on the record that BackOffice Server 2000 will have a Technology Guarantee, but I'd bet money on it. The best way to find out is to check with your local Microsoft sales office. As BackOffice Server 2000 nears its release to manufacturing (RTM), more licensing and availability details will be available. Note that the Technology Guarantee stipulations can be, and probably are, different outside the US. Again, check with your local Microsoft affiliate.

HIC's position to upgrade from GroupWise to Exchange 2000 Server might let the company take advantage of the Microsoft Office competitive upgrade, which means getting the same BackOffice Server product at a lower price, a program Microsoft uses to attract migrations. You might want to verify this claim with a consultant and your local Microsoft affiliate.

Legal Stuff
BackOffice Server 2000 lets you deploy a customized application server configuration on from one to three physical servers without additional BackOffice Server licenses. (You do, however, need to have additional Windows 2000 Server licenses for additional servers.) This MultiServer configuration option gives you the flexibility to implement services as business needs require, and provides a mechanism to improve scalability and ensure the reliability that dedicated application servers bring. These additional load-balanced servers delay the need for advanced clustering solutions, like those available in Win2K Advanced Server and Win2K Datacenter Server, for all but the most critical enterprise functions. Advanced clustering solutions are expensive, both software-wise—the Win2K AS list price is $4000 for the product and 25 licenses—and hardware-wise—advanced clustering solutions require costly big-iron servers. MultiServer lets you achieve much the same effect at a fraction of the cost.

The Microsoft Open License Program (MOLP) is another way that companies can save money on bulk software purchases. In the MOLP, companies receive product licenses only, which grant the right to copy Microsoft software products covered under the agreement and distribute them in the business. For companies not looking at large volumes, the Open Business participation program gives a discount of about 22 percent off the estimated retail price when you order five or more licenses for any combination of software packages. Savings continue for all reorders for 2 years without a minimum reorder quantity. For high-volume companies, the Open Volume program offers 28 percent off at about 400 to 500 orders. MOLP is a viable and effective licensing solution, and I recommend all businesses thinking of adopting Microsoft software to explore it.

To Be Continued . . .
I have much more to tell about the HIC story, so stay tuned for Part 2 in my next BackOffice Server column. I'll talk about HIC's server configuration and the overall feasibility of its plan. As always, if you have questions or comments, send them to me at [email protected].

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