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Chapter 1 - Introduction

Published: November 10, 2004
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Overview Overview
Intended Audience Intended Audience
Overview of UNIX Migration Overview of UNIX Migration
Resources and Skills Resources and Skills
Creating a Successful Windows Environment Creating a Successful Windows Environment

Overview

This book is an introduction to enterprise computing capabilities offered by Microsoft as compared to UNIX technology, and how the Microsoft® Windows® platform can be an effective alternative to UNIX. The goals are to provide an overview of the Microsoft enterprise platform including the Windows Server System and the Windows development environment, and of available prescriptive guidance and support relative to platform migration and subsequent operation.

Although its origins are in the research and academic communities, today UNIX is a highly reliable system for operating servers, particularly production web and database servers. UNIX is available on a wide variety of platforms ranging from small-scale personal computers to large multiprocessor engines. Several large computer manufacturers including IBM, Sun, and Hewlett-Packard/Compaq offer enterprise products based on UNIX and proprietary hardware using RISC processors. Several variants of UNIX and UNIX compatible systems are available on Intel x86 architectures.

Windows is also a highly reliable system. However, a lack of knowledge of the Windows platform prevents many organizations from exploring the benefits of moving applications off UNIX. By migrating from UNIX to the Windows Server System, an organization can increase performance and flexibility, while substantially decreasing the cost of ownership.

A migration, however, is not a task that can be accomplished without planning. There are four approaches to UNIX migration to consider when initiating this transition:

  • Interoperation. Moving one or more components of a UNIX application to the Windows platform.

  • Code Migration. Recompiling or converting the UNIX application source code to the Windows platform.

  • Replacement. Replacing existing UNIX applications with available Windows software packages.

  • Evolution. Utilizing the existing UNIX application as a functional specification and then rebuilding the application using Microsoft programming languages and tools.

Each of the preceding strategies is described in more detail in Chapter 8: UNIX Migration Fundamentals.

Note The term Windows is commonly used to describe the popular Microsoft operating system (OS). To properly understand the viability and capabilities of the Windows platform for enterprise computing, it is necessary to distinguish the Windows Server™, the Windows Server System, and the Windows Desktop:

  • Windows Server refers to the most current version of Windows designed to support enterprise computing. At the time of publication, this is Windows Server 2003.

  • Windows Server System collectively refers to Windows Server 2003 and the various Microsoft server products it supports, such as Microsoft SQL Server™, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Internet Information Services Web Server, and Microsoft Host Integration Server.

  • Windows Desktop refers to the many versions of the OS found on personal computers, including Windows 2000 and Windows XP.  

For more information on the Windows Server System, refer to:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/

Intended Audience

The primary audiences for this book are information technology (IT) business decision makers and IT Technical Decision Makers. However, other technical specialists may also extract value from the content of this book. The following list describes the intended audiences for this guide.

  • IT business decision makers (BDMs) are responsible for understanding the business role of computing within the organization, as well as all associated development, administration, and maintenance resources. BDMs understand IT costs, total cost of ownership (TCO), and return on investment (ROI) issues, but may not understand specific UNIX technology issues.

  • IT Technical Decision Makers (TDMs) are responsible for understanding the technical benefits, features, and usability of various information technologies. It is assumed that TDMs have an understanding of UNIX technology and are motivated to learn more about the Windows platform.

  • Technical and Solution Architects are responsible for network, security, database, and application architecture and design. These architects also have an in-depth understanding of their specialty within the organization.

  • UNIX Developers are responsible for building applications for the IT organization. They understand all technical implementation aspects of the application environment.

  • UNIX System Administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operational activities associated with UNIX. These administrators understand UNIX operations within the enterprise, including UNIX performance, capacity management and hardware configurations, any maintenance and support agreements with vendors, and any service level agreements that are in place.

Secondary audiences for this book include Windows professionals that are motivated to learn more about UNIX.

Overview of UNIX Migration

UNIX installations have grown more complex and expensive, yet remain embedded at the center of many business environments because of the significant investment in hardware, server licenses, skills, and data they represent.

Many businesses are migrating from UNIX to a more cost-effective and manageable alternative to remain competitive.

Economics

There are significant cost savings associated with a Windows solution when compared to UNIX. Specifically, cost is lowered in terms of computing power and licensing fees. The cost of hardware, such as Random Access Memory, disk storage systems, and other peripherals has also been dramatically lowered by the commoditization of these items caused by the ubiquity of the Windows operating system. Although other operating systems have followed this trend to cheaper hardware, the difficulty in providing drivers for a wide variety of operating systems results in much of this commodity hardware being available only (or first) on Windows based systems.

Other factors contributing to the relatively low cost of the Windows Server System are the comparatively simple administration, lower software distribution costs, the competitive market in application software, and the availability of trained staff at reasonable cost.

Performance

The lack of competition in the proprietary UNIX hardware market has resulted in UNIX performance that has only moderately improved over the past several years, while the performance of platforms based on the Windows Server System has shown significant improvement.

As of October 2004, eight of the top ten results listed for the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-C benchmark database, ranked by price-performance, were based on the Windows Server System. Eight of those results were achieved using the Microsoft SQL Server database system.

For more information on the TPC-C benchmark database, refer to:
http://www.tpc.org/tpcc/results/tpcc_results.asp?orderby=hardware

As of October 2004, eight of the top ten performance results for the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-H benchmark, measuring Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) workloads are held by Windows Server System configurations. Seven of the lowest ten price-performance results are held by Windows Server System configurations.

For more information on the TPC-H benchmark databank, refer to:
http://www.tpc.org/tpch/results/tpch_results.asp?orderby=hardware

Innovation

By far, most research and product development in computing is being made in distributed computing environments, such as the Windows Server System. Much like Hewlett Packard's HP-UX and IBM's z/OS operating systems, Windows is proprietary software, in that the source code is copyrighted and disclosed only under contractual agreement to legitimate partners and licensees. However, the proprietary aspects of Windows do not extend to computing hardware.

Windows has always been an OS intended to be used on many different hardware platforms. This single attribute has revolutionized the personal computer industry. The adoption of almost any other proprietary OS also brings with it the constraint of being forced to use co branded hardware and — to some extent — related systems software, such as Database Management Systems (DBMS) and Web servers.

For example, if AIX is adopted, it must run on IBM equipment; if Solaris, then Sun Microsystems equipment must be used. However, the Windows Server System does not impose hardware restrictions. In the hardware compatibility list for Windows Server, currently more than 230 server systems are available from dozens of different vendors, including Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Mitsubishi, NEC, Toshiba, Unisys, and many more. This means that Windows Server Systems must be extremely price-competitive and technologically innovative to succeed in the market.

Resources and Skills

The subject of how migration affects people, their jobs, and responsibilities when migrating from UNIX is beyond the scope of this book. Although an evolution of skills is required, new opportunities are also available to staff as a result of migration.

The disciplines and processes required to successfully manage computing in the UNIX environment are still fundamentally the same in the Windows environment, and therefore remain relevant. To the UNIX professional, adding Windows skills is valuable, given the heterogeneous computing environments common in large organizations. For these individuals, migration offers an opportunity for career advancement and does not negate the value offered by their existing skills.

Creating a Successful Windows Environment

The Windows Server System is an integrated server infrastructure that is based on simplifying development, deployment, and management by anticipating business and technology needs and opportunities. It is designed to interoperate with other data and applications within an IT environment, reducing the cost of ongoing operations, and delivering a highly reliable and secure infrastructure.

The Windows Server System is based on the Windows Server 2003 operating system and offers a variety of different products and technologies that provide operations, applications, and information infrastructures. Windows Server 2003 is available in the following editions:

  • Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition. For departmental and standard corporate workloads.

  • Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition. For critical or heavy server workloads.

  • Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition. For high levels of scalability and reliability.

  • Windows Server 2003, Web Edition. For Web serving and hosting.

For more information on the different editions of Windows Server 2003, refer to:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/features/compareeditions.mspx

The goals of the Windows Server System are to promote operational efficiencies through simplified deployment, management, and security; to ensure high levels of dependability, performance, and productivity for application development; and to seamlessly connect information, people, and systems.

A successful migration to the Windows platform results in a computing environment that satisfies the same criteria traditionally associated with successful UNIX installations:

  • High reliability

  • Robust security

  • High performance

The following chapters provide:

  • An overview of how each of the above features is traditionally delivered in the UNIX environment

  • An overview of how the features are provided in the Windows Server System at either the same or higher level of service

  • Tools available to achieve the desired service level

  • References to additional resources from Microsoft or its partners

Although the focus of this guide is on how the Microsoft enterprise platform delivers these features, interoperability with major components from other vendors is also important. The Windows Server System supports competing database platforms and software development environments. While the value of Integrated Innovation is maximized by leveraging Microsoft software products to provide a complete solution, Microsoft recognizes that customers may have additional requirements that lead them to choose some software from other vendors.

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