Project Server 2003: Upgrade to 2007 or wait for 2010?
By: Collin Quiring
I am being asked by customers about whether Project Server and upgrading. Should they upgrade to Project Server 2007 now, or should they wait for 2010 to come out?
I know that in these tough economic times, there is a tendency to wait on upgrading and there is a temptation to “skip a release”. In the short term, this might seem to be the prudent thing to do from a pure dollars and cents view. However, I think that this ends up costing more in the long run. I will summarize why at the end of this post.
My recommendation is to upgrade from 2003 to 2007. And, while every customer sees specific benefits from an upgrade, I think that the following short list applies to many organizations.
Reasons to upgrade from 2003 to 2007 and not wait for 2010:
1. Project Server 2003 is now 6 year old technology (which is probably 35 years in tech/dog years)
a. It still is a great product, but, compatibility with other technology gets harder every year as other hardware and software is updated within the enterprise
b. Users within organizations have become used to the concept of “most recent” – they have the latest iPhone’s and software programs that have standard features they have come to expect from their work software
2. Project Server 2003 is no longer part of mainstream support from Microsoft
a. April, 2009 was the retire date
b. This means that fewer and fewer people (Microsoft or consultants) will have the expertise needed to help with any serious issues that may arise
3. New Features of Project Server 2007
a. I won’t go into the list here, but there are a number of features that make 2007 just a better product
b. This means that you could be using these features now – improving productivity and reducing labor costs now
4. Compatibility of 2007
a. Some of the new features of 2007 only work with more recent technology – Office 2007, SQl 2005, etc.
5. Project Server 20007 – knowns
a. The ability, knowledge, documentation and experience to upgrade from 2003 to 2007 is available in the marketplace
b. The hardware and software requirements are also known entities
c. The database modifications from 2003 to 2007 are fairly significant but are also known entities
6. Project Server 2010 – knowns and unknowns
a. 2010 uses 64 bit technology only
i. This means that there will most likely be a need to purchase new hardware
ii. Based on what I am being told by most customers, new hardware purchases are not at the top of the list
iii. There are great new capabilities that 64 bit provides and there are benefits to customers with this technology so this shouldn’t be viewed as a negative
b. 2010 will be compatible with SharePoint 2010, SQL 2008, Windows Server 2008 and other new technology
i. This indicates that an upgrade to Project 2010 should be accompanied with an upgrade of other technology
ii. This could mean licensing issues as well
i. I am hoping to be one of those that Microsoft deems worthy to be given an opportunity to test Project Server 2010 before RTM, but at this point, there are lots of unknowns
1. How different is the user experience?
2. What new features are available?
3. Etc. Etc.
4. Release Date – while the current date for release is early 2010, it could be mid to late 2010 before it is actually released
5. Upgrade path – I have no idea about this but with some past releases you still had to upgrade to the previous version before going to the most recent version – which would mean making you go to 2007 anyway (if only for the conversion process itself)
In summary, I think that going to Project Server 2007 from Project Server 2003 now is important because waiting for Project Server 2010 will cost more in the long run. If the release date is late 2010, and you have to buy the appropriate hardware, software and licensing, it could easily be 2011 before you implement. That means that your Project Server 2003 implementation will be 8 years old (about 42 in technology dog years). Some customers prefer to wait for SP1 to come out, that would be early 2010 or mid 2011 for Project Server 2010. That would mean that your Project Server 2003 implementation would be 9 years old. Productivity increases, newer software capability, support and expertise are all critical aspects that make Project Server 2007 less expensive now than waiting.
UPDATE: As of today (September 1, 2009), it is my understanding that to get to Project Server 2010 from 2003 you will have to upgrade to 2007 first. Now, before that causes too much consternation – there is also a path to do so that Microsoft is providing to some of the Certified Partners, like PMP Specialists, that will allow us to help customers go from 2003 to 2010 without having to purchase and implement 2007. BUT, in my mind, this is another reason to go to 2007 now – because I wonder about the known/unknown data issues that each specific company has when going from 2003 to 2007, let alone from 2003 to 2007 to 2010. Just more food for thought.