Netware 6.5 Support Ends Soon - What Are Your Options?

Is your organization willing to risk its vital operations on an unsupported server platform? Novell Netware 6.5, the latest and final version of Novel’s venerable server O/S, comes off general support in March of 2010. If you use Netware 6.5, now's the time to begin developing your strategy to be on a supported platform in 2010. You have two workable strategies going forward: upgrade to Novell’s Open Enterprise Server (OES) or migrate to Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003/2008.

View Novell Support Lifecycle and check support status of any product

While both options can be considered functionally equivalent, the decision isn’t easy. The Netware vs. Windows debate has been going on for years, and you may find you have deep-seated convictions in your technical staff. In addition, you'll need to consider the following factors:

“Business” Factors
The question here is whether your decision will be strategic, representing a long-term investment in your chosen vendor, or tactical, aimed primarily at keeping costs down. While both options require considerable effort, expense, and time to implement (up to 12 months or more), the upgrade path generally requires less.

On the other hand, you may be considering Windows as a strategic, forward-looking server platform for your organization. Are you moving to SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server and/or Systems Center? If so, having a common platform across the infrastructure, including desktops, can add significant efficiency and make migration the better choice.

But if SUSE Linux is a strategic server platform for you, the fact that OES is built on top of SUSE Linux probably makes upgrading your better option.

Active Directory/eDirectory Factors
As a Netware 6.5 user, you have an investment in eDirectory for user and service management, but you may not have a matching investment in Active Directory. If you do, then one of the difficult steps of migrating to Windows has already been accomplished and you'll save on license costs by consolidating onto a single platform. If you don't, a migration will likely increase implementation and licensing costs.

A Microsoft Enterprise Agreement typically makes it more affordable to deploy multiple Microsoft products. Conversely, paying for the products and licenses on an ad-hoc basis will likely drive up the cost of a migration.

Novell Application Factors
If you will continue to use Novell applications, a move away from Novell may be difficult to justify. For example, will you be retaining Groupwise? While Groupwise can run on a number of platforms, it leverages eDirectory and often Netware file shortcuts become embedded in mail messages. This creates additional cleanup work when migrating.

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