Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We're just about to start a new greenfield project - it's a highly functional web application using ASP.NET MVC3, SQL Server etc. We're also going to be using Windows Workflow Foundation for the first time.

Our client only wants to use his existing Windows Server 2003 web servers. My main issue (other than it is 8 years old) is that we don't much experierence of WWF development, but understand that using AppFabric (Server 2008 only) will improve WWF development.

It's a significant cost to the client, as we need fail-over servers and a UAT environment as well.

Am I correct in my understanding, and what methodologies can I use to justify the cost of upgrading?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Snowman, Ixrec, MichaelT, durron597, gnat Aug 31 '15 at 16:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Can you clarify the relationship with the client? Are you effectively a consultant and they're paying you money to do this work? Or are you an internal development team in the same organisation? It changes the possible reasons. – Jon Hopkins Jun 20 '11 at 14:45
Thanks for all the answers. We're an internal dev team, working with an internal "client" who holds the money. – conradj Jun 20 '11 at 15:48
OK, you all (especially Jon) helped me specify a better question.…. – conradj Jun 21 '11 at 9:19
up vote 2 down vote accepted

For me the best way would be to estimate how much extra the development will cost if you have to do it on 2003.

Developers time is expensive. To work out how expensive typically double the average salary of the developers (this is a rough measure of all the additional costs of having that person around - office space, relevant taxes paid by the company, training, other benefits) and then divide by 220 (approximate number of working days in a year (260) after holidays (assume 20), public holidays (assumed 10) and average sick (assumed 10)) to establish the daily cost - so a developer earning $50,000 a year costs about $450 a day.

Then very roughly estimate the difference between doing it one way and the other in days (don't forget on-going support), multiply up by the daily rate and that's the cost.

That should have either eliminated or significantly cut into the cost of the 2008 licenses.

The other thing to do is look at how you can minimise the cost of the licenses - usually by cutting down on the number of servers (this will be over-speced a lot of the time) but also by looking at things such as MSDN which may allow you to get the development licenses for MS products on a better deal.

I'm not knocking things like the on-going support of the OS and the like as arguments, just my experience is that if someone is concerned about money, talk to them about money.

Update: As you're an internal department it may be that there is pressure that can be bought to bear as part of an overall company strategy. The advantage you have here is that in theory you share certain long term goals (as opposed to if you were a consultant or contractor you'd be a gun for hire doing what you were told). It's worth speaking to others within the IT department to see if there are strategic guidelines or standards that help you make your case (perhaps in the most extreme example no new apps running on 2003 servers).

share|improve this answer
dev time is expensive.. but he wants this project to fund their training in WWF and AppFabric and w2008. The 2008 way is going to be vastly more expensive than the old 2003 way... and you have to question what benefits the client will actually see in terms of finished product. – gbjbaanb Jun 20 '11 at 14:37
@gbjbaanb - Are you sure that's what he's saying? I read it that if he uses 2008 he can take advantage of AppFabric which will make the development easier (or at least the final solution better). – Jon Hopkins Jun 20 '11 at 14:49
@Jon: I read it as he doesn't know if that is the case, or even if WWF will make dev easier! One thing I do know, you are never going to be faster with new technologies than with ones you already are master of. You may well be once you've mastered them, but they are never instant productivity boosts. (and we assume it can be made to work properly first time round too. How many times have I seen super-new tech products fall flat on their faces?) – gbjbaanb Jun 20 '11 at 15:11
@gbjbaanb - But he does say that they don't have experience of WWF - they're new to both. In that instance learning the new version should be (at the very least) no more work and ideally less. – Jon Hopkins Jun 20 '11 at 16:02

Your client needs to understand that if they are going to make the investment in their new system, they need to upgrade the infrastructure around it - it is all part of the SAME investment - ie. putting the new paint job on the old '76 Ford Pinto may spruce it up a bit - but it is still a Pinto (sorry Pinto fans)

But to help them, you need annotate each of the benefits, and then try to put a dollar amount on each of them. You hit on some of the benefits - Security, Virtualization, Performance, Server management, IIS Upgrades, Terminal server enhancements, AD upgrades - However, they all come at a price - with possible cost savings. You convinced them to use the technology stack that you did - great. Now, tie that stack with the enhancements in 2008 server - and try to associate cost savings with as much as you can.

share|improve this answer

Mainstream support for 2003 ended in July 2010 and while extended support is available until 2015 it isn't something I personally would like to rely on for a major new development. See here for more details from Microsoft.

share|improve this answer
+1 You need to be sure your client understands the risks of running an unsupported OS; he can't run 2003 forever and it is probably cheaper to start this project on 2008 rather than upgrade it. – Jeremy Jun 20 '11 at 15:46
Thanks, useful ammo. Don't have enough rep to upvote you. – conradj Jun 21 '11 at 9:23

My main issue (other than it is 8 years old) is that we don't much experierence of WWF development, but understand that using AppFabric (Server 2008 only) will improve WWF development.

You're kidding, right? Sure 2008 is better than 2003 (its 5 better) but if you can't justify it to yourself without some 'understanding' that 'AppFabric' will 'improve' WWF development... then you have no hope of justifying it to the client. Figure out if it will improve WWF development, after you've determined if WWF is the dev route that actually helps you make the product. (hey, why not chuck in Biztalk and make it run on the Cloud too)

Technology for technologies sake does not make a better product (if anything, it makes a worse one as you have to learn how to use it first), but it does mean you become uncompetitive. If your competitors come up with a bill half the one you present them with, and can give them what they want... you'll be drawing your unemployment cheque pretty quickly.

share|improve this answer
+1 for identifying that it actually may not be justifiable. – Jon Hopkins Jun 20 '11 at 14:50
We've evaluated that WWF is what is required for our needs. I'm looking for advice on whether I can justify the use of Server 2008 and AppFabric to help develop WWF, using what I hope is an appropriate forum. I can provide some feature lists where MS say AppFabric is good for WWF development, but I'm looking for some real world experience. – conradj Jun 20 '11 at 15:52

If you can't justify it to yourself with more than a vague single-sentence, it'd be highly unprofessional to try to persuade the customer to upgrade.

share|improve this answer
I can justify it on grounds of security, more features and better support for MVC. Just looking for some additional help, especially if you have experience with AppFabric and WWF. – conradj Jun 20 '11 at 12:09
@thebunk: "better support for MVC"? Really? – John Saunders Jun 20 '11 at 19:27
Well, to be specific, IIS7 has better support. It's not a major deal, we're using IIS6 currently, but its true:… – conradj Jun 21 '11 at 7:58
So you link to a tutorial and translate "no special configuration necessary" into "better support"? I wouldn't like to be your customer. – zvrba Jun 21 '11 at 13:00
Jeez this place is hostile! I'd go into much more detail to my customer, who is paying me, but I'm afraid you people have to make do with a link. For further info I hear stackoverflow is pretty good, if you have any specific queries. – conradj Jun 21 '11 at 15:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.