Businesses have been urged to check that their enterprise applications will work with the latest Window server operating system, after research revealed that organisations may face significant compatibility problems when they upgrade.
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IT departments are expected to start moving enterprise applications from Windows Sever 2003 to Windows Server 2008 next year to take advantage of improvements in security and administration functions.
But a compatibility test by software house ChangeBase for Computer Weekly discovered 10,000 configuration issues that could cause a third-party enterprise application installation to fail on Windows Server 2008. The test covered 200 enterprise applications, including major ERP, database and reporting packages.
"I estimate 60% of Windows applications will have errors that will prevent them from installing correctly on Windows Server 2008," said Grant Ford, chief operating officer at ChangeBase.
Analysts advised IT departments to test applications before rolling out Windows 2008, even when suppliers say their software is compatible.
"On paper, the major server software companies will certify their software for Windows 2008, but you find that certain modules are not certified until long after launch, so you have to look into the details," said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director at analyst firm IDC.
Compatibility is worse with bespoke software, where the provider is unlikely to give any commitment to support future operating system releases, said Ray Titcombe, chairman of the Strategic Supplier Relationships Group. "Until you start testing for compatibility, you will not know if the software will run."
Television channel ITV plans to evaluate Windows Server 2008 next year. Nick Leake, director of operations and infrastructure at ITV, is planning to roll out the software gradually to minimise compatibility problems. "We will probably adopt it for new applications first, once it is stable, and deal with legacy systems over the following few years."
David Roberts, CEO of IT directors group the Corporate IT Forum, said software suppliers were not doing enough to ensure applications worked in complex IT environments. "Upgrading production servers to the next version of Windows could be chaotic," he said.
Microsoft did not comment, but a compatibility guide produced by Microsoft states, "The majority of applications that run on Windows Server 2003 also work on Windows Server 2008 with no changes.
Why applications may not run on windows server 2008
● Applications could fail because they are unable to run under the tighter security environment in Windows Server 2008.
● Some applications are unable to install because they require system administration privileges.
● Configuration settings that have changed between Windows Server 2003 and 2008 can cause the application to work incorrectly.