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Setting up for a Successful Migration

December 10, 2007


The prospect of migrating to Windows Vista, for a small or medium sized business, can seem costly and time-consuming. In fact, a smaller percentage of the SMB market has migrated to Vista than was expected. The reality is that the process of migration can be smooth, efficient, and cost far less than

Pre-migration considerations

Businesses that have yet to take the migration leap are held back by a number of common factors, including:
  • Hardware. Are you at the point where you need to replace some old equipment? If so, most new machines come with Vista installed – that might be the impetus for a whole-business migration to Vista. If you’re using existing hardware, you need to account for the costly upgrades that will be required to make those machines “Vista-ready.”
  • Applications. Consider how many and what types of applications (out of the box or internal) you will need to migrate if you move to Vista. If there are numerous customized applications, is each one necessary? Before going through the trouble of migrating them, you may want to downsize and bring over only what you need.
  • Waiting. In order to avoid the current security issues and technical kinks that accompany Vista, many businesses are waiting for Vista’s Service Pack 1 to be (expected the first half of 2008), before migrating. Another reason to wait for migration is if you are planning to move to Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn) when it becomes available. Windows Server 2008 shares much of the same architecture and functionality as Vista SP1, so adoption of this server would be a natural reason to migrate to Vista.
  • Logistics. For many small or medium businesses, it’s hard to take things offline to upgrade. Do you have the resources available and the IT staff on hand to manage the migration and insure the end users experience minimal downtime?

Methods of migration

Once you have taken the points above into account and decide to migrate, there are different ways to carry out the migration process – it may be one or a combination of the following when all migration is said and done:
  • Forklift migration: Migrate everything at once - the quickest type of migration
  • Batch migration: One department or location at a time
  • Hardware attrition: Migrate every time a new product is acquired

The process of migration: Six basic steps

In every successful migration, the following key steps take place:
  • Pre-assessment – Determine what’s in your IT environment and understand what hardware, software, and deployment resources are required to complete the migration.
  • Preserve data and settings – Capture each machine’s “personality,” which includes network drive and printer mappings, desktop configurations, application templates, and system settings – all of which must maintained throughout the migration process. Users report the most successful migrations happen when user “personalities” are kept intact during the process.
  • Build the parts – Create the baseline image (or images). The ideal scenario is to build an image on a freshly formatted drive with only the OS, service packs, security patches, and baseline configurations. Some vendors recommend that all organizations should strive to have just one, single, hardware-independent image for all of their hardware.
  • Add applications - Applications are not included in the baseline image. Instead, they are installed after the OS using automated processes that deploy only applications needed based on roles and functions of each user and their PC.
  • Perform the migration – Once all the necessary preparations have been made, it’s time to migrate. The base images with the OS, the application packages and the computer’s personality are all moved.
  • Report – In addition to real time reporting during migration, a post mortem report should indicate a recap, such as number of devices migrated, number of applications deployed, number of user configurations migrated, number of and kinds of problems encountered. This information provides a clear picture of the state of the migration and a baseline for future asset management.

Post-migration Considerations

After businesses have successfully migrated to Vista, they will have an ongoing need to manage the Vista and non-Vista machines in their environment. Ideally, the management solution the businesses choose are integrated with the migration tools they choose. This will help drive costs down and provide a consistent experience for those in charge of migrations and management.

Easier than it sounds

While all the steps and processes involved with migration may seem daunting, it really isn’t that difficult. Not when you use a Symantec solution that automates every step of the process listed above. Automatic migration reduces the IT effort, time and overall cost of migration. Gartner estimates that IT will typically spend 4.2 hours deploying a PC manually, but only 1.28 hours using automated tools. Translate that into a cost savings, and Gartner estimates cost of each manual deployment as $298, while automatic is $81 per deployment.

Symantec solutions

In early 2007, Symantec acquired Altiris, a company with a rich history with migrations and systems management. The acquisition strengthened Symantec’s migration and management offerings so there is a solution that is right for every type of and size of business.

Symantec Ghost Solution Suite is ideal for SMBs with fewer than 500 machines or a less-complex IT environment. The current version offers Vista-specific migration capabilities.

Altiris Client Management Suite is ideal for automatic migration inside enterprises and provides robust management capabilities.

Visit Symantec's Online Vista Resource Center for more information.

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