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Vista – plan before you deploy

There is now a pressing need to begin evaluating
, according to Michael Silver, research vice president at Gartner. “For
most organisations, we believe 12 to 18 months of testing, planning and piloting
will be required before mainstream Vista and Office 2007 deployment begins.
Organisations need to understand their software inventory, do internal testing
and work with independent software vendors to understand their support policies
and timelines. If you haven’t started this process yet, consider starting now,”
he says.

“The sooner you want to begin deploying Windows Vista and Office 2007, the
sooner you need to begin testing. Organisations that run Windows 2000 and are
trying to skip Windows XP should have already begun.”

This view is endorsed by Tim Jennings, research director of analyst firm
Butler Group. “That is not to say that it is the only game in town, but whether
we favour the massively dominant player, or look to alternatives such as Linux,
the appearance of a new version of Windows on the desktop should at least be a
trigger for organisations to review their strategy,” he says.

In an ideal world, Jennings suggests that most firms without a pressing need
to upgrade should wait until Microsoft has rolled out its first Vista service
pack to swat the most serious bugs before undertaking mass deployments. However,
in practice, he concedes that technology is not the only factor in deciding such

“Operating system upgrades are now more closely linked into financial cycles,
both those that originate from the vendor, such as Microsoft’s Software
Assurance and other volume licensing programmes (40% of large organisations now
purchase Microsoft software this way), and those of the organisation itself,
with many having established a standard client ‘lifetime’ of three to four year
s,” says Jennings.

Bug’s life
Gartner’s Silver noted that, while the analyst firm has advised in the past to
wait for Service Pack 1 (SP1) before rolling out Microsoft software, the
software giant’s improved ability to deploy bug fixes through its online
Microsoft Update services means that the arrival of service packs are now less

Paul Stoddart, Windows client marketing manager, argues that the
functionality and productivity gains incorporated into Vista make upgrading to
the new platform worth the migration pains. Within the actual operating system
he points to improvements designed to help corporates boost productivity
including enhanced document and file search functionality, better document
previews, full volume encryption and improved reliability.

“Essentially one of the key things people notice straight away with Vista is
improvements in the productivity area where we have put a lot of focus.
Reliability is absolutely key as well. This is absolutely the most secure and
reliable operating system we have ever built,” says Stoddart.

Audit trail
Other improvements include features to help companies meet the requirements of
regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley. To achieve this, the platform maintains an
audit trail of all activity on a PC by preventing users from overwriting

Stoddart went on to talk up Vista’s green credentials, pointing to the
operating system’s ‘instant on’ feature that cuts start-up times to around two
seconds. Vista is also configured by default to revert to a power-saving sleep
mode after one hour of inactivity.

“We have conducted new research that shows 30% of users leave PCs on all
night, while 25% leave them on all weekend. The cost of the power for this is
quite considerable,” said Stoddart. “Our research shows that £45 of power per PC
per year is wasted. For 200 desktops this equates to 47 tonnes of carbon a

While there can be no one-size-fits-all deployment guide for Vista, to
develop a coherent strategy, Gartner advises companies to begin by taking an IT
inventory and working with independent software vendors to understand
implications of Vista rollouts on existing infrastructures. The analyst firm
urges companies to develop an internal IT communication plan to address possible
internal end-user inquiries about Vista migration plans.

Google unveils Office offering
In February, Google unveiled its Google Apps Premier Edition, a suite of hosted
collaboration tools and productivity applications targeting enterprises. The
launch was seen by industry commentators as Google’s first real attack on
Microsoft’s core revenue stream – its Office application suite.

With an annual cost of $50 per user, the Premier Edition offers 10Gb of
online storage per user and includes phone support. The search giant promises
99.9% availability for the offering (not including planned downtime). The Google
Apps offering bundles:
• Google Docs and Spreadsheets
• Gmail web email services
• Google Calendar shared calendaring
• Google Talk instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) telephony

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