Every so often Microsoft releases a new iteration of its Assessment and Planning Toolkit. This toolkit -- for desktop, server, and mixed environments -- was designed to make migrations easier. It collects information about your current hardware and software, analyzes it to determine its overall readiness for migration, and produces a series of action reports for the administrators.
Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 6.5 was released in December of last year, and its feature mix has been bumped up to reflect all the new products Microsoft has been working hard to promote from its current mix of offerings:
Windows 7 / Internet Explorer 9
One of the most common and obvious migration paths is to the newest version of the Windows desktop, along with the newest version of Internet Explorer. The implications of migrating to a new version of Windows should be pretty obvious; you’ll need to know if the hardware you have and the app you run will be supported on the new OS and the MAP Toolkit helps you determine such things. But MAP also tries to determine if the systems you have can be upgraded to IE 9 independent of whatever else you’re doing, in the event you want to perform that migration path for the sake of getting as many people off older versions of IE as possible.
Microsoft Office 2010 and Office 365
MAP has analysis tools for those on previous versions of Office considering an upgrade to Office 2010, as well as those considering a migration from desktop solutions to Office 365. For Office 2010, most of MAP's analysis involves client readiness--which machines are ready to accept Office 2010 now, and which ones need upgrading (and in what form)--as well as a rundown of what previous editions of Office are currently deployed in your organization. For Office 365, MAP reports which clients would be ready for Office 365 now, as well as what's required of those that aren't.
SQL Server 2008 R2
Migrating from previous versions of SQL Server isn't just a matter of backing up and restoring databases. It's also about new features in current versions of SQL Server worth planning for, and legacy features which might well be on the way out. MAP's inventory-assessment tools not only analyze previous editions of SQL Server but look for instances of MySQL, Oracle and Sybase as well, in the event you have plans to migrate databases from those products into SQL Server too. Reports include details about whether or not the assessed SQL Server instances are running on physical or virtual machines, and planning for possible migrations into an HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance (based on SQL Server 2012).
Windows / SQL Azure Migration
As an adjunct to the SQL Server and Hyper-V migration features in MAP, there’s also a set of tools for assessing a possible migration to Windows Azure and SQL Azure. Among the assessments provided by MAP is some idea of which Azure instance sizes will be most suited to the applications you run, along with estimates for their monthly usage of network bandwidth, storage and compute-instance time. MAP analyzes many other attributes for deploying the applications in question, such as whether or not the app uses the local file system or requires smooth network streaming.
Software Licensing / Asset Management
No one likes the hassle that comes with managing software licensing, and Microsoft's licensing arrangements have been some of the most notoriously impenetrable in the industry. The Software Usage Tracking feature in MAP Toolkit 6.5 produces software usage reports for all key Microsoft products, big and small, including different versions of the same products--e.g., the different revisions of the .NET Framework. Software usage reports also include LAMP stack software--Apache, MySQL, and PHP installations, along with what OSes they are running on (including different flavors of Linux). Also new in 6.5 is Device Tracking, which allows Windows devices (that is, phones) to be added to asset reports.
Heterogeneous Server Environment Inventory
This existing feature, which lets you take inventory of all the different servers in your organization, originally focused on Microsoft products--Windows Server, Hyper-V, SQL Server, etc. New this time around is the ability to include VMware products in the inventory, both servers and guest objects. If migrating things out of VMware is part of the reason you're using the MAP Toolkit to assess your inventory, this can come in handy.
Note that there's a certain amount of Microsoft bias at work here. Microsoft claims "SQL Server, SharePoint Server and Exchange Server run better on Hyper-V [than on VMware products]," and so encourages moving those workloads to Hyper-V. That said, many organizations still prefer to stick with VMware products for many reasons, so remember that this is just advice, not dogma.
More on MAP
Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track
If you're building a private cloud in your organization via Microsoft's Private Cloud Fast Track--a solution system offered by various hardware vendors (e.g., Fujitsu) as a way to assemble a cloud infrastructure in your organization with minimal fuss, MAP offers tools for that, too. MAP's Private Cloud Fast Track Onboarding Assessment Report determines the best way to move your existing hardware into a Fast Track cloud. This includes details about what your server consolidation may look like, what performance criteria need to be met (minimum IOPS, network throughput, total storage, etc.), and specific information on what kind of baseline and maximum hardware configurations you'll need to create it (CPU speeds, memory, SAN storage recommendations, etc.).
If you’re about to start a migration, whether on local hardware or to a cloud-hosted offering, grab both the toolkit and its associated Getting Started Guide and see for yourself what MAP has to say about your migration plans. Also be sure to check out the sample documents (available from the previous download link), which show you what MAP’s output looks like and give you an idea of what to expect when you produce reports with the program. Finally, a blog devoted to MAP has regular posts about getting the most out of MAP, and there’s also a full forum on TechNet if you have specific questions about using the product and want feedback from professionals about it.
Serdar Yegulalp has been writing about personal computing and IT for more than 15 years for a variety of publications, including (among others) Windows Magazine, InformationWeekand the TechTarget family of sites.
This was first published in February 2012