In this interview, Windows 7 migration experts Stephen Kolbe and Thomas Nieto of Analysis Enterprise Inc. talk with SearchSystemsChannel.com Assistant Editor Pat Ouellette about planning a migration. Kolbe and Nieto use their understanding of what their customers look for to identify key Windows 7 migration tools. They also outline the reasons why these tools are both useful to solutions providers and cost-efficient for customers.
Pat Ouellette: What are the steps a solutions provider should take to properly plan for a Windows 7 migration?
Stephen Kolbe: First, before you do anything else, you absolutely need to have competent, qualified staff. Microsoft provides a tremendous amount of resources to help partners get trained on all the new technologies it's offering.
The second step is to take the time to identify the right tools, like the migration assistant tool that Microsoft has developed. Different tools work for different scenarios and different-sized organizations. Understanding what each tool does and how it is relevant to a particular scenario is critical.
Third, it is also critical to have a comprehensive understanding about the environment. If it's a new customer, it's extra important to take the time to assess their inventory and their environment.
Ouellette: Could you elaborate on a few of the Windows 7 migration tools that would be the most beneficial to solutions providers?
Thomas Nieto: The tools that you would typically use for most deployments would be the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. Microsoft software analyzers are great tools to use as well; they will actually run through the steps necessary to perform an install or an upgrade. It is just a dry run, so to speak, and if it has any problems, it reports back to you with the exact nature of the problem, and in most cases, a solution. You'll also get a link to a knowledge-based article.
Kolbe: On the software side, the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit is great to use if you have a lot of computers you want to scan. If you only have a few computers, you can go right to Microsoft's website, and the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor allows you to do a one-off scan on the computer in question.
Nieto: The imaging features that are just now part of Microsoft's operating system (OS) are also great Windows 7 migration tools. They have just made disk imaging a part of the backup system, and because it's integrated with the OS and the software, it makes using Microsoft disk imaging tools a lot simpler for deployment. You can create your baseline computer, use Microsoft software, and you don't have to pay for anything.
That imaging software is also used with new deployment service packages and software that Microsoft has for deploying machines on a network. There are a bunch of new features that make it very simple to create one system image and then custom tailor it at user startup. This provides you with the option to make a secure template for one user and a slightly different template for another user, based on the same image.
Kolbe: When we talk about imaging, we're not talking about a Microsoft tool, but a practice we engage in sometimes. If you're doing a desktop deployment, before you engage in the upgrade, if you plug a USB in the hard drive and you use the imaging tool to make a copy of the disk, you're adding about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the system, to the deployment process. But the great insurance policy is that if anything goes wrong, you just re-image that old operating system back on and you're back to square one again. It's really great for companies and solutions providers that need to do an in-place upgrade.
Ouellette: What are some features that will make Windows 7 migration easier for solutions providers?
Kolbe: Desktop virtualization is prime time in Windows 7. We're seeing the use of thin clients as opposed to desktops for companies. Windows 7 also supports multiple monitors through remote desktop services. Previous versions did not support multiple monitors, but Windows 7 does through a remote desktop guest. I think this is huge from a feature standpoint.
About the experts
Steve Kolbe founded Analysis Enterprise Inc. in 1995 and is the president and CEO of the company. Kolbe has received awards such as Smart CEO's 2008 Smart 100, 2009 Circle of Excellence Winner for excellence in customer service and the Entrepreneur's Exchange 2010 Entrepreneur of The Year. He has also served as an advisor on various technology, educational and local boards and committees, including The Baltimore County Executive Advisory Board for Higher Education.
Thomas Nieto is a Microsoft accredited professional and the Director of Strategic Consulting Services for Analysis Enterprise Inc. Nieto presently oversees strategic planning for clients and directs a team of consultants engaged in projects, project management and consulting services. Prior to his present role, Nieto was the IT Director for Santé Group.
This was first published in March 2010