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IT shops have full dance card without Vista, thank you

There is no shortage of IT projects in the enterprise, according to IT managers at TechEd this year. Vista and Windows Server 2008 rollouts are not among them.

ORLANDO -- For IT shops, 2008 is not the year of the Vista upgrade and it's not the time for a Windows Server 2008 migration. Not just yet, anyway. So exactly where is everyone spending their IT dollars?

Like last year, many IT managers at TechEd 2008 remain in the thick of virtualization projects with an eye toward server consolidation. Exchange Server 2007 rollouts are also underway for some.

At JTI MacDonald, the Swiss-based tobacco giant,

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nearly one-third of its servers are virtualized using VMware Inc.'s ESX Server. "Every time we bring up a server we think, will it be standalone or virtualized," said one IT manager for the company.

The U.S. Air Force is also in the process of developing procedures for server virtualization. This branch of the military is currently using ESX but is also currently testing Microsoft's Hyper-V, which Microsoft won't release until later this summer. Isaac Sharp, a network administrator for the agency, said he expects that his organization will be using Hyper-V within the next six months.

"[Using ESX] we've been able to take 10 to 20 machines down to one big blade server," Sharp said.

There are also green initiatives at various corporations that are being helped along with the installation of technologies like Office Communications Server 2007 and its desktop video conferencing features.

"This will help us do without traveling, said one IT manager for a provincial office in western Canada, who declined to be identified. The office has about 45,000 desktops that will be upgraded [to OCS 2007] starting this year.

At United Technologies Corp., the Hartford, Conn.-based global aerospace corporation, IT managers are building redundancy into the corporate data center. A $13 million project is underway that includes adding new power supplies and back up facilities. Windows Server 2008 won't be on the corporate radar until next year, said Zeke Viashi, a data analyst for the company.

Alliant Energy is one company looking toward Windows Server 2008, but so far it's only testing an Active Directory upgrade. By the end of 2008, the Madison, Wis.-based company will test an upgrade of 37 domain controllers in its lab. The DCs will not enter production until 2009, said Chris Sweeney, an IT manager for the company.

For many, Exchange Server 2007, which has already seen its first service pack, is ready for the big show. "We completed our European rollout last year and this year we will begin in North America," said Sean Graine, an infrastructure engineer at Genworth Financial Inc., a Richmond, Va.-based financial services firm with about 15,000 employees.

As for the Kennewick School System in Kennewick, Wash., Ron Cone, an IT manager for the schools said he expects to buy 200 new laptops this summer and 200 more in November. All will have Vista licenses but will be rolled back to XP while the team tests for driver incompatibilities, particularly those that involve video graphics cards, Cone said.

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