News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Take the migraines out of migration

Tired of suffering through long, arduous, frustrating operating system upgrades? Mark Landry of Virtual Access Networks offers advice for how you can save money on ibuprofen while migrating your company's desktops to a new OS.

Upgrading an entire company to a new operating system typically costs about $300 per employee, according to Framingham, MA-based IDC. So, it's easy to understand why some businesses balk at migrating to the latest operating system, even though the upgrade could increase employee productivity. Find out why the costs are so high and how to cut them down to size in this searchWindowsManageability interview with Mark Landry, vice president of strategic services for Lawrence, MA-based Virtual Access Networks. His recommendations could also help IT managers save money on ibuprofen when upgrade time rolls around.

searchWindowsManageability: Why do you think the IDC estimates costs of $300 per employee in a typical company's operating system migration?

There are a lot of things involved in upgrading. You may have to upgrade your PC hardware, so you can calculate what it costs to buy extra memory. The license for Windows 2000 is an additional cost, for example. You have to factor in how much time the IT staff is going to take to make sure that each PC gets upgraded properly. That?s what factors into those $300 estimates you see from research firms like IDC and Gartner Group.

It's easy to sit down and calculate the hard dollar costs of going from Windows 95 to Windows 2000, but I'd love to see an independent research group like IDC look at the post-migration costs.

searchWindowsManageability: What are those post-migration costs?

Your lost productivity after the migration far exceeds the direct costs involved in getting you that new PC. We've all had our employers refresh our PCs, and we know how much time we spend saying, "I used to have this signature file in my email and I want it back!" You'll spend a half hour figuring out how to do fix that one thing, and it adds up. Over the course of the next couple of months, you probably spend 20-30 hours getting your personal settings back to what they were. If the company is paying you $75 an hour, that's a lot of money.

searchWindowsManageability: What are some of the technical issues that make upgrading so complex?

We look at upgrading the desktop in a couple of different ways. First, there's the network standpoint with all of your network connectivity issues. What was your username? What were your login privileges? What mapped drives were you sharing on the network? What printers were you mapped to on the network? What were your modem settings if you were a remote user? That is a whole grouping of things that need to be addressed when you refresh a desktop. On top of that, there are the application specific settings.

searchWindowsManageability: Can you give an example of a problem in upgrading an application?

It's great to get Outlook 2000. It is a better product than Outlook 97--but isn't it a shame that now I have to go and find that menu choice that allows me to create my signature file? I know where it was in Outlook 97, but in Outlook 2000 it's different. I've got to figure out where to find that setting again. That's where the complexity lies in terms of the desktop.

searchWindowsManageability: What would you say is the best path to an easy migration?

Make sure you understand fully what your objectives are. Create a plan, first and foremost. Understand why you want to migrate to Windows 2000, and understand the platform from which you're migrating. Begin with an assessment of what's in the enterprise, and what's out there in terms of desktops. Many companies run two to three different types of operating systems. Most companies that are moving to Windows 2000 have Windows 95 and 98 on their desktops. Some even have NT. Figure out what are the percentages of each operating system across the enterprise the things you need to do to get each desktop ready.

searchWindowsManagability: How would you describe the perfect migration?

The perfect migration is one that's unattended and automatic. The next day, you come back to your desk and have got a Windows 2000 desktop and all the tools, application settings, wallpapers and bookmarks that you were comfortable with before the migration happened. From the first minute you turn on the PC, you're taking advantage of the new platform. The company gets return on investment immediately, as opposed to having employees sit there pulling their hair out saying, "I can't believe IT screwed up my PC again."

searchWindowsManageability: Can you list any do's and don'ts of upgrading?

The most important thing is planning, picking the right tools, and not trying to do everything on your own. Don't leave your end users hanging once the desktop is delivered. Make sure you've got a well-thought-out plan in place before you start down the path. Testing the migration process is also an important bit of advice. You'd be amazed what companies do to assure a smooth transition. Some will literally run migrations on 50-60 PCs and re-run them until they're sure that they've got every aspect correct before rolling them out to the general population.

Dig Deeper on Windows Server deployment

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.