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Dell Adds Vista Migration Assistance to The Mix

In another part of its 'Simplifying IT' strategy, Dell today announced the Dell Client Migration Solution, a program of services and software tools designed to make it faster and easier for an IT shop to move from one hardware or software platform to another.

While SMB has gotten a lot of attention lately, this service isn't for them. It's designed for companies with 2,500 systems or more. It's designed to help the bigger companies and organizations deal with the deployment of new hardware and/or migrate from Windows XP to Windows Vista.

Vista migration is not an easy task, and not just because of all the knocks it has taken recently. Because of its finer grain security system, a lot of habits people learned starting with Windows 95 right up to Windows XP have to be broken, whether that's user habits or applications expecting Administrator access.

"We asked for a more secure desktop and more discrete ways to lock it down, but with that, the sins of the past have to be addressed, like the types of things you were allowed to do or system components you could let apps access and how they would install. Those are different now," Kevin Haynes, senior manager, product management and marketing at Dell told InternetNews.com. "So we're getting some benefit in terms of security, but it's a different model from what we've had in the past and people have to adjust to it."

Charles King, president of the consultancy Pund-IT, agreed that some new habits need to be learned when it comes to Vista. "If you look back at least in the Windows world, going from Windows 95 to XP to this, there was a certain continuity through Windows 2000 and even some to XP, but Vista is unlike anything Microsoft has ever done before," he said.

One problem from an end user perspective is security controls. "Making sure permissions are set up right can cause problems. Then there's the interface, and also Office 2007 has a whole new UI. So the problems really start to add up," said King.

"But this happens so seldom for a large company they don't really have the expertise to do it. It's not something you want do piecemeal over months and months, it's something you want to get up and running quick, and that's not the sort of thing IT departments are set up to do," said King.

Dell has found over numerous large-scale hardware and OS migrations that the task is expensive and labor-intensive. Customers had always come to Dell for the deployment piece but have said they'd like help on the up front planning as well for quite a while, Haynes noted.

Automated deployment technologies

Part of the solution is Dell Automated Deployment technologies that assess the network and help with deployment and risk assessment. Then there's the hands-on approach through the entire process.

One thing Dell noted was many firms did not take a holistic look at its own network. People within IT would sign off on their segment of the infrastructure but too few were looking at the whole system and how everything interacts.

Once everything is documented in a Visio diagram, Dell and the customer plan a deployment strategy from end to end. Much of the focus is around app compatibility and Vista adoption. Custom apps frequently break due to companies taking liberties or shortcuts and not creating a proper application to Windows design spec. With its new security system, Vista almost guarantees these will break.

Dell plans to offer the service as part of up-front planning for customers well in advance of the deployment. "These are services that engage many months or quarters or a year out to help the customer scope the project and understand the process and costs," said Hayes.

With it, Dell claims it can reduce the cost of migration by as much as 62 percent, the amount of network traffic within the company by 70 percent and the time needed for an on-site technician by 88 percent.

King said Dell hit the market at just the right time. "Looking at hours or days of lost employee time to get them moved over to Vista and Office 2007, the logistics of it are daunting. This is a major undertaking and I think Dell's picked a very good spot" he said.

Dell’s Client Migration Solution is available immediately to customers in the United States, Europe and Canada. It is available on a limited basis in Latin America and will be made available to Asia-Pacific/Japan later this year.