Microsoft vs Novell

I’m the network admin for a small company looking to upgrade to a new network operating system. We are currently running Novell Netware 5.0 with GroupWise 5.5 (email). I’ve been in this job for 2.5 years now, and I’ve gotten to work with both Netware and Windows NOS’s, both have their ups and downs. I’m looking for informed opinions on whether to upgrade to Netware 6 or Windows 2000/2003 server. We have about 100 users on Dell PC’s that I would have to reconfigure. The servers (email and file) are both Compaqs (Proliant and Presario), both can run either system with no trouble. A little background info on where my thoughts are:

This NOS should be easier to use than Netware 5, it can be very cryptic. The new NOS should be compatible with most applications out of the box. I can’t tell you how many times I got frustrated because a product we need either does not work with Novell at all or requires extensive configuration changes to get it to run. I have a dozen Windows servers running on workstation class machines behind me because most network apps I have will not run on a Novell server. Examples include Veritas Backup Exec, Norton Antivirus, and just about any smaller application like our payroll system. (Some apps will actually run, but need to be heavily modified first like NAV). I want to be able to buy applications and install them without calling support every 10 minutes. I know patching will be a big issue on an MS system, but I am prepared to deal with that. At least with MS the process is much easier, I find it difficult to navigate Novell’s site looking for which is the right patch to apply. As you can see I’m kind of leaning towards the MS solution, mostly because of compatility. Then again, our butts have been saved a number of times because people just don’t write viruses for Novell and GroupWise. Tough choice here. Of course money will be an issue, and I know it will be less expensive to go with Novell by purchasing an upgrade, they will almost certainly offer a discount to previous customers.

Please let me know what you think about this, especially if you have evaluated a similar situation. Thanks!

Go Windows 2000/Exchange 2000, and never look back. Easy setup, reliable, and the backing of a company that will be around for a while. People will poo-poo MS products, but I know for a fact that the world’s largest ‘private’ email enviroment is run on Winnt/Exchange 5.5, with 99.9+% uptime. (I used to be on the admin team for it.)

Then again, if you have the gumption to learn a bit, don’t discount Linux, especially for a setup your size. When you can tell your bean-counters that the software cost is zero, they won’t freak out so much when you request all that Redhat training :wink:

Hmm, good point about the training Brutus. I’ll learn anything technical, I don’t discriminate, and Linux is definately on my list. Still, its very foreign to me in that I have never even seen it running, let alone administrated a network using it. Either way I’ll have to get some training.

If these things must run on the server, then you will have to find replacements for them under Linux. I am a linux user, Windows stays the hell out of my home, but I will also tell you that it is not a cure all. There are (free) replacements for all of the things you named, and possibly for some of the apps you didn’t name. The thing is, they are not the ones you are using.

That can be pretty irrelevant for a mail server, but users tend to throw a fit when you change something that they actually interact with - like your payroll system.

To replace the infrastructure of your network, Linux is a fine choice. Samba gives you Windows file shares, printer shares, and can act as a domain controller. Sendmail or Procmail or the Cyrus IMAP server give you e-mail. Firewalls are all over the place - better to say that firewall setup tools are everywhere, since the firewall functionality is a part of the Linux kernel. Commercial backup software is available for Linux, though you can (and many do) write their own shell scripts to do the job.

Any kind of application the user sees, however, is going to be a problem. Users don’t want a replacement. They want the same program they have been using.

You might go Linux to replace the Novell server, and run your server based apps on Windows machines as you have been doing. Then again, you might save yourself the hassle of learning a new system and go all Microsoft. As the Germans say you have “der Qual der Wahl.” The torture of the choice.

This is really more an IMHO thing, so off it goes!