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Chapter 18. Compatibility Testing for Windows Server 2003

Chapter 18. Compatibility Testing for Windows Server 2003

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validatethecompatibilityandfunctionalityoftheproposedendstatefortheupgrade.

Currentlymanycompaniesareseekingto"right-size"their

networkenvironment,andmightbeusingtheupgradeasa

chancetoactuallyreducethenumberofserversthathandlefile

andprintprocessesonthenetwork.Attheendoftheprocess,

fewerserverswillhandlethesametasksasbefore,andnew

functionalitymighthavebeenadded,makingtheconfigurations

oftheindividualserversthatmuchmorecomplex,andmaking

itevenmoreimportanttothoroughlytestthemission-critical

networkingapplicationsontheserver.Forexample,Windows

Server2003managesuserconnectionsandapplicationserver

functionsaswellasprovidingenhancedfaulttolerance

capabilities,promptingsomeorganizationstoreplaceexisting

WindowsNT4orWindows2000serverswithWindowsServer

2003.

Thusit'sevenmoreimportanttotestthisconfigurationto

ensurethattheperformancemeetsuserexpectationsandthat

theeverydayfeaturesusedbytheemployeestoshare

knowledgeandcollaborateareinplace.

Theresultsoftheapplicationcompatibilitytestingprocesswill

validatethegoalsoftheprojectorrevealgoalsthatneedtobe

modifiedbecauseofapplicationincompatibilityorinstability.If

onekeyapplicationsimplywon'tworkreliablyonWindows

Server2003,aWindowsNT4ServerorWindows2000Server

mightneedtobekeptaspartofthenetworkingenvironment,

whichchangestheoveralldesign.AsdiscussedinPartIIofthis

book,"WindowsServer2003ActiveDirectory,"avarietyof

differentcombinationsofWindowsserverconfigurationscanbe

combinedintheendconfiguration,sothechancesthatthere

willbeawaytokeepthetroublesomeapplicationsworkingin

thenewenvironmentaregood.



TheImportanceofCompatibilityTesting

Theprocesspresentedinthischapterisanessentialstepto

takeinvalidatingthedesignfortheend-stateofthemigration

orupgrade.Thesizeoftheorganizationandthebreadthand

scopeoftheupgradeareimportantfactorstoconsiderin

determiningtheleveloftestingneeded,andwhetherafull

prototypeshouldbeconducted.

Thedifferencesbetweenaprototypephaseandanapplication

testingphasecanbedramaticornegligiblebasedonthenature

oftheupgrade.Aprototypephasereplicatestheend-stateas

completelyaspossible,oftenusingthesamehardwareinthe

testlabthatwillbeusedintheproductionrollout.



Caution

Applicationtestingcanbeperformedondifferent

hardwarewithdifferentconfigurationsthantheendstate,butbeawarethatthemoredifferencesthere

arebetweenthetestingenvironmentandtheactual

upgradedenvironment,thegreatertheriskfor

unexpectedresults.Essentially,youcandoan

applicationtestingphasewithoutacomplete

prototypephase,butyoushouldn'tdoaprototype

phasewithoutathoroughapplicationtesting

process.



Mostnetworkusersdon'tknoworcarewhichserverorhow

manyserversperformwhichtaskorhousewhichapplication,

buttheywillbeunhappyifanapplicationnolongerworksafter

amigrationtoWindowsServer2003.Iftheorganization



alreadyhasActiveDirectoryinplaceandisrunningWindows

2000Servers,theriskofapplicationincompatibilityislikelyto

belessthaniftheorganizationismovingfromanolder

operatingsystem,suchasNT4Server,oracompeting

operatingsystem,suchasNovellNetWare.Theupgradefrom

Windows2000mightwellusetheexistingserverhardwareand

performinplaceupgrades,orinthecaseofanupgradefrom

WindowsNT4,itmightinvolveimplementingentirelynew

serverhardwareandnewserverfaulttolerancefeatures,which

furtherchangetheoperatingenvironment.Ifthisisthecase,a

fullprototypephasemightnotbeneeded,butapplications

testingshouldstilltakeplace.











PreparingforCompatibilityTesting

Althoughtheamountofpreparationneededwillvarybasedonanumberoffactors,

certainstepsshouldbefollowedinanyorganizationthescopeofthetestingshould

beidentified(what'sinandwhat'sout),thegoalsofthetestingprocessshouldbe

clarified,andtheprocessshouldbemappedout.

Asignificantadvantageoffollowingaphaseddesignmethodology,aspresentedin

Chapter2,"Planning,Prototyping,Migrating,andDeployingWindowsServer2003

BestPractices,"isintheplanningdiscussionsthattakeplaceandintheresulting

statementsofwork,design,andmigrationdocumentsthatarecreatedas

deliverables.Often,companies'contractwithmigrationexpertstohelpcompanies

avoidclassicmistakesintheupgradeprocess.Bytheendofthisplanningprocess,

itwillbeveryclearwhytheprojectishappening,whichdepartmentsneedwhich

featuresandcapabilities,andwhatbudgetisavailabletoperformthework.The

timelineandkeymilestonesalsowillbedefined.

Ifaphaseddiscoveryanddesignprocesshasn'tbeenfollowed,thisinformation

needstobegatheredtoensurethatthetestingprocessaddressesthegoalsofthe

projectstakeholders,andthattherightapplicationsareinfacttestedandverified

bytheappropriatepeople.



DeterminingtheScopeforApplicationTesting

Atthispointintheprocess,alistshouldbeputtogetherthatclarifieswhich

WindowsServer2003versionistobeused,whichversionofserversoftwarewill

beused,whichadd-infeaturesarerequired,andwhichthird-partyapplicationsare

needed.Asdiscussedpreviously,WindowsServer2003comesinWeb,Standard,

Enterprise,andDatacenterversions.Smallercompaniesmaychoosetousethe

StandardversionsofWindowsServer2003operatingsystem,whereaslarger

organizationsmightrequiretheEnterpriseversionontheirserversystemsfor

moreadvancedscalabilityandfaulttolerance.

Akeyissuetodiscussatthispointiswhetheritisacceptabletohavemultiple

versionsoftheWindowsServeroperatingsysteminthefinalsolution.Some

organizationswanttocontrolstandardsonbothsoftwareandsupportservices,and

requirejustasinglenetworkoperatingsystem.



Note

AlthoughtheStandardEditionofWindowsServer2003issignificantly

cheaperthantheEnterpriseEditionofthelicense,costshouldnotbe

theprimaryreasonforchoosingoneversionoveranother.Itisnotas

simpletoupgradefromtheStandardtoEnterpriseEditionasjust

changingasoftwarelicensekey.ItrequireseithersettingupabrandnewserverwiththeWindows2003EnterpriseEditionandmigrating

applicationsfromservertoserver,orafullupgradeoftheEnterprise

EditionoveranexistingStandardEditionlicense.Anorganization

shouldseriouslyconsiderwhetheritneedsthefunctionalityofthe



EnterpriseEditionbeforechoosingtobuyandinstalltheStandard

Editionandattemptingtoupgradelater.



Third-partyapplicationsshouldbeidentifiedaswell.Theapplicationsmostoften

usedincludetape-backupsoftwaremodulesoragents,antivirussoftware,fax

software,andvoicemailintegrationproducts.Additionalthird-partyadd-on

productsmightincludethefollowing:

Administration

Antispam

Backupandstorage

CustomerRelationshipManagement(CRM)

Logmonitoring

Migration

Reporting

Securityandencryption

Thehardwaretobeusedshouldbelistedaswell,toensurethatitisavailable

whenneeded.Ideallytheexacthardwaretobeusedintheupgradewillbeordered

fortheapplicationtestingprocess,butifthatisnotpossible,hardwarewith

specificationssimilartothatoftheserversthatwilleventuallybeusedshouldbe

allocated.AlthoughprocessorspeedandamountofRAMwillmostlikelynotmake

adifferencetowhethertheapplicationfunctionsproperlyontheserverplatform,

certainhardwaredevicesshouldbeassimilaraspossible.Tapedrives,for

example,shouldhavethesamefeaturesastheonestobeusedintheproduction

environment,becausethisisoneofthemostcriticalcomponents.Ifanautoloader

willbeusedintheproductionenvironment,oneshouldbemadeavailableforthe

applicationtestingprocess.IffaxingfromtheOutlookinboxisrequired,thesame

faxinghardwareshouldbeallocatedaswell.

Someapplicationsrequireclientstobepresentforthetestingprocess,soatleast

oneworkstationclasssystemshouldbeavailableforthispurpose.Connectivityto

theInternetmightalsobenecessaryfortestingthefunctionalityofremoteaccess

productsandantivirussoftware.

Asamplechecklistofrequirementsforsummarizingthescopeoftheapplication

testingphaseisshowninTable18.1.



Table18.1.ChecklistforApplicationTesting



Server#1



Serverspecsrequired:



Details(includeversion

#s)







Processor



RAM

Harddriveconfiguration

Other

NetworkOSandservicepacks:

Tapebackupsoftwareversionandagents:

Additionalthird-partyappsrequired:











Additionalhardwarerequired:



SANdevice







Tapedrive

UPS

Switch/hub

Other



Internetaccessrequired?



Yes/No



Thisprocessshouldnottakeagreatdealoftimeifprevious

planninghastakenplace.Iftheplanningphasewasskipped,

somebrainstormingwillberequiredtoensurethatthescope

includesallthekeyingredientsrequiredfortheapplication

testing.Thegoalsfortheapplicationtestingprocesswillalso

affectthescope,whichiscoveredinthefollowingsection.



DefiningtheGoalsforCompatibilityTesting

Aswiththepreviousstepofdefiningthescopeofthetesting

process,definingthegoalsmightbeaveryquickprocess,or

couldrequiresomediscussionswiththestakeholdersinvolved

intheproject.

Oneusefulwayoflookingatthegoalsfortheprojectistotreat

themasthechecklistforsuccessfulcompletionofthetesting.

Whatconditionsneedtobemetfortheorganizationto

confidentlymoveforwardwiththenextstepintheWindows

migration?Thenextstepmightbeamorecompleteprototype

testingphase.Forsmallerorganizations,itmightbeapilot

rollout,wherethenewnetworkingenvironmentisofferedtoa

selectgroupofsavvyusers.

Thesegoalsareseparatefromthebusinessgoalsthecompany

mighthave,suchasamorereliablenetworkinfrastructureor

improvedsecurity.Amorecompleteprototypephasecouldseek

toaddressthesegoalswhiletheapplicationtestingprocess

staysfocusedontheperformanceofthespecificcombinations

oftheoperatingsystemandembeddedandconnected

applications.

Aconvenientwaytodifferentiatethegoalsoftheprojectisto

splitthemintokeyareas,asdescribedinthefollowingsections.



TimeframeforTesting

Thisgoalcanbedefinedwiththestatement"Thetestingmust

becompletedinXdays/weeks."

Ifthereisverylittletimeavailabletoperformthetesting,this

limitshowmuchtimecanbespentoneachapplicationandhow

manyenduserscanputeachthroughitspaces.Italso



necessitatesalesserdegreeofdocumentation.Rememberto

includetimeforresearchingtheapplications'compatibilitywith

thevendorsaspartofthetimeline.Aquickprojectplanmight

beusefulinthisprocessasawayofverifyingtheassumptions

andsellingthetimelinetothedecisionmakers.



EstimatingtheDurationoftheApplicationTestingProcess

Agoodruleofthumbistoallowfourhoursperapplicationtobetestedforbasic

testing,andeighthoursforamorethoroughtestingprocess.Thisallowstimefor

theinitialresearchwiththevendors,configurationoftheWindows2003

operatingsystem,andtestingoftheapplications.Ofcourse,thetotaltime

requiredwillvarybasedonthetypesofapplicationstobetested.

Forexample,aWindowsServer2003systemwithtapebackupsoftwareand

accountingsoftwarewouldtakeanestimatedoneortwodaystotestforbasic

compatibilityandfunctionality,andpotentiallyaweekformorerigoroustesting.

Notethatifmorethanoneresourceisavailabletoperformthetesting,these

configurationscanbetestedinparallel,shorteningthedurationoftheprocess,

butnottheworkeffort.

It'salwaysbettertohavesomeextratimeduringthetestingphase.Thistime

canbeusedformoreextensiveusertesting,training,ordocumentation.



Contingencytimeshouldideallybebuiltintothisgoal.

Resourcesassignedtothetestingcangetsick,orapplications

mightrequireadditionaltestingwhenproblemsare

encountered.Vendorsmightnotprovidetrialversionsofthe

softwareasquicklyasdesired,ornewversionsofsoftwareor

eventhehardwareitselfcanbedelayed.Withmanycompanies

seekingtoconsolidatethenumberofserversinuse,itisnot

uncommontoseelabsevolvethroughthetestingprocess.

DifferentversionsoftheWindowsoperatingsystemareused,

asaredifferentversionsofvariousapplicationsoftware

programs.



BudgetfortheTesting

Thisgoalcanbedefinedwiththestatement"Thetestingmust

becompletedwithinabudgetof$X."



Ofcourse,theremightbenobudgetallocatedfortesting,but

it'sbettertoknowthisassoonaspossible.Alackofbudget

meansthatnonewhardwarecanbeordered,evaluationcopies

ofthesoftware(bothMicrosoftandthethird-partyapplications)

needtobeused,andnoexternalresourceswillbebroughtin.

Ifthebudgetisavailableorcanbeaccessedinadvanceofthe

productionupgrade,asubsetoftheproductionhardwareshould

beorderedforthisphase.Testingontheexacthardwarethat

willbeusedintheactualupgraderatherthanacast-offserver

willyieldmorevaluableresults.



ResourcestoBeUsed

Thisgoalcanbedefinedwiththestatement"Thetestingwillbe

completedbyin-houseresourcesand/orexternalconsultants."

Often,theinternalnetworkadministrationstaffistoobusywith

dailytasksortacklingemergenciesthatspringup(whichmight

bethereasonfortheupgradeinthefirstplace),andstaff

personnelshouldnotbeexpectedtodedicate100%oftheir

timetothetestingprocess.

IfanoutsideconsultingfirmwithexpertiseinWindowsServer

2003isgoingtobeusedinthetestingprocess,itcanbeagood

leveragepointtohavealreadycreatedanddecideduponan

internalbudgetforthetestingprocess.Thiscutsdownonthe

timeittakestodebatetheapproachesfromcompetingfirms.



ExtentoftheTesting

Theextentofcompatibilitytestingcanbedefinedwiththe

statement"Eachapplicationwillbetestedforbasic,mid-level,

orcompletecompatibilityandfeaturesets."

Thisgoalmightbesetfordifferenttypesofapplicationswhere



somemission-criticalapplicationswouldneedtohaveextensive

testing,whereaslesscriticalapplicationsmighthavemorebasic

testingperformed.Ashorttimeframewithatightlylimited

budgetwon'tallowextensivetesting,sobasiccompatibilitywill

mostlikelybethegoal.



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Chapter 18. Compatibility Testing for Windows Server 2003

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