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How to upgrade a client from the DOS age

By wordworker ·
Here's the deal. I have a new consulting client, a nonprofit agency whose director wants to know whether they should upgrade their systems, both hardware and software. They've got $30K in the budget for the rest of '03 and more available in '04. Here are the basic questions:

1) They have 25 users running Win 3x, 95, and 98 in the home office. Most are networked to the NT4.0 with SP6 server. Only a few have internet access.

The director doesn't want to give everyone Inet access, saying they don't need it. The part-time IT person is afraid the NT4/SP6 box is going to die a horrible death soon (reasons unclear at first on-site visit.)

Comments requested on merits of sticking with NT4/SP6 versus upgrade to say Windows 2000 Server?

2) PARADOX FOR DOS 4.5. (Please save your flames and taunts about one; they know it's an archaic program.) But it's all they've ever had. They use the old flat-file approach (everything in one table, a new table each calendar year). Users go to the machine, run their queries (manually), print the results, and do their work off those printouts. An average of only 13,000 records are entered every year.

A number of options abound for upgrading the database, from MS Access to MSDE to MySQL to...

Here's the rub: The director is deathly afraid of users' pushback. They don't think the database is broken, so they don't want to fix it. They don't want to learn something new.

What I'd like to know from fellow TechRepublic members is if there's a proven technique for selling the change, making the change, and training the new system while causing the least amount of user "freakout" possible.

Any of you folks successfully upgraded a client like this one? I'd love to hear your advice.
-jeffd

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Corel Office 11 Pro

by TheChas In reply to How to upgrade a client f ...

Why not consider going with Corel Word Perfect Office 11 Pro with Paradox?

While the learning curve will not be small, having the same program name will make the sale easier.

Since it has been so long since they updated software, I would consider jumping straight to Windows Server 2003.
Or, consider a Linux solution.

As to selling any change, you need to show them that they will benefit with improved data and efficiency.
If a new database would be slower and not provide any improvements in data analysis, why would they want to change?

Chas

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Windows 2003?

by Jim Phelps In reply to Corel Office 11 Pro

>I would consider jumping straight to Windows Server 2003.

I'm sorry, Chas, but I have to disagree with you on this one. I would NEVER immediately deploy what Microsoft has JUST released, especially for such a critical item as the server.

This guy has to get success immediately. What he does must work and work well, or the client will lose the will to continue with the other stuff.

Windows 2000 is a GOOD system, and it's been out long enough to where all the other suckers have finished beta-testing it for Microsoft. Besides, W2K isn't that much newer than W98 SE, which is what I suggested he upgrade all of the various PCs to, to get them all on the exact same OS. Because I wonder how well W9X would integrate as clients with W2003 as the server.

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Do this in three phases

by Jim Phelps In reply to How to upgrade a client f ...

>The director is deathly afraid of users' pushback...

This one will get you every time. If the director doesn't have the backbone to "direct" (to make decisions), then you're fighting a losing battle. In fact, if anything goes wrong, you'll probably get blamed for at least some of it.

>PARADOX FOR DOS 4.5...They use the old flat-file approach(everything in one table)...

They need to be made aware of the potential for "junk" in the database, and that the only way to avoid it is to redesign it into a relational database.

Point out that Paradox was a solid database engine, and that the Borland Database Engine is the modern variant of it. In other words, make it a small step for them to upgrade to Borland Database Engine. Include some simple interfaces, and they would probably buy into it.

>The part-time IT person is afraid the NT4/SP6 box is going to die a horrible death soon (reasons unclear at first on-site visit.)

I would guess that it was poorly set up, and that they have ancient server hardware, based on the fact that they have little money in the budget, and that the director has no backbone.

Point out that the server could fail at any time. Point out how cheap they could purchase new server hardware and one copy of W2K server, and that that would give them very good reliability for a long time, and that to fix it now is cheaper than fixing it after it fails.

>They have 25 users running Win 3x, 95, and 98 in the home office...

I'd put all of those people on W98 SE, because it isn't much of an upgrade, meaning all of their software should still run, and you shouldn't have to upgrade much of the hardware. In this way, they will ALL be running exactly the same OS. And in the few cases where you couldn't run W98 SE, put them on the latest version of W95.

In this way, it isn't that much of a change, and it would be much easier to sell them on the idea.

Do this in three phases:

1. New server hardware running W2k -- this won't cost too much.

2. W98SE on all of the above-mentioned workstations -- can be done right after upgrading the server, and it won't cost too much.

3. Relational database -- gotta do it, but not right now. They're getting along ok for now. They'll probably allow you to do the database if you do a satisfactory job on the other two phases.

In short, let them know that for not too much money, they could be brought up to date on the server (W2K) and client (W98SE) side; let that be phase 1. That's the one thing they HAVE to do now. Then later on, do phase 2 -- upgrading them to a relational database.

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Good stuff!

by wordworker In reply to Do this in three phases

Jim, thanks for the detailed suggestions. You rock!

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Re: Good stuff!

by Jim Phelps In reply to Good stuff!

>Jim, thanks for the detailed suggestions. You rock!

Actually, I don't "rock", I "country"!

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