The Van 2.2: a road to trouble-free Windows upgrades?

Virtual Access Networks' release of The Van 2.2 adds support for Windows 2000 and Office XP, in addition to a new Admin Tool. The company hopes its product will reduce the hassle of upgrading to new versions of Windows.

As Microsoft releases new, improved versions of its Windows operating system, such as XP and .NET, an increasing number of companies face the challenge of upgrading. Lawrence, MA-based Virtual Access Networks Inc. promises to ease the upgrade pains of Windows administrators. Its remedy is a new enterprise-friendly version of The VAN file migration software, which offers increased support for application and operating system migrati...

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Virtual Access Networks created The Van initially to assist IT departments in swift, cost-efficient upgrades and migrations. It allows automatic migration of desktop settings and files that formerly might disappear in an upgrade, potentially cutting time spent per client in an upgrade by up to 75%. The Van 2.2 adds support for Windows 2000, Office XP, Norton AntiVirus, in addition to a new Admin Tools.

Thanks to the need to preserve each individual user's preferences and settings, even migrating to a new version of Windows can be time-consuming. Addressing this problem, The VAN 2.2 offers the ability to migrate from organizational or individual PC settings. This gives The VAN more clout in the enterprise, said Fred Broussard, Senior Research Analyst for Framingham, MA-based IDC. Teaming operating system and application migrations gives The Van 2.2 more bang for the buck.

Giving the Van 2.2 better support for "migration iterations" was a logical move, said Mark Landry, vice president of Strategic Services at Virtual Access Networks. For example, migrating from Windows 95 with Outlook 97 to Windows 2000 with Outlook 2000 includes not only an operating system migration, but also a migration from one application version to another. "When operating systems are overlaid with the various application versions," there might be any number of potential iterations, he said.

The Van 2.2 facilitates these "migration iterations" with XML technology and a Web-enabled product. Systems administrators can install The Van 2.2 on a LAN and use it behind a firewall, or they can open up the server to be run outside the firewall to get at remote offices, according to Landry. With other products based on TCP/IP, "you've got to know what the TCP/IP settings are between each PC before you can go through with the migration," he said.

The Van 2.2 supports more than 60 applications and over 5,000 settings. In Microsoft Office alone, not even including Outlook, there are three to four thousand settings, said Landry. These settings include everything from font display preferences to e-mail signature files. The ability to automatically migrate those settings may save dozens of hours in lost productivity from users being forced to recreate their settings preferences, Landry added.

Another improvement in The Van 2.2 is the ability to create department-specific templates in a migration. For example, if you wanted to make sure everyone in the human resources department has a set of bookmarks important to their job function, even though everyone in finance might need a separate set of bookmarks, The Van 2.2's new Admin Tool feature helps facilitate that, Landry explained.

Virtual Access Networks ships The Van 2.2 starting this month. For more information, visit Virtual Access Networks' home page at http://www.thevan.com.

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