Is Windows Vista Right for Your Business?
Author: Kris Wilson
It seems like just last week you finally got Windows XP fine-tuned and secure in your organization, and now you are looking at taking on that pain all over again with Windows Vista. You’ve read the blogs on missing drivers, application compatibility, and new management processes—why can't you just stick with the tried and true?
Major OS updates don’t happen overnight. There is an integration process that must occur, leading to questions on when to start the upgrade and how long the integration will take.
This article is intended to clear up misconceptions, provide an honest assessment of the challenges, and explain the benefits of Windows Vista.New Deployment and Management Features
Windows Vista includes new and updated features that make it easier for you to manage client computers in your organization. It is also designed to correct common problems and errors without IT intervention to make users more productive:
- Modular architecture and a new file-based imaging format (WIM)
- Expanded Group Policy settings
- Expanded reporting and event logging
- Improved Task Scheduler
- Windows Network Diagnostics tool
- Built-in diagnostic scenarios
Addressing the Vista Challenge
- Layered defenses employ a strategy of prevention, isolation, and recovery against malicious software threats and intrusions:
- User Access Control gives administrators the option of restricting permissions while still enabling most applications to run—reducing the 'attack surface' on individual PCs by avoiding administrator credentials for most users.
- BitLocker Drive Encryption protects information on laptops and hard drives to prevent security breaches.
- The improved firewall offers a new Advanced Security interface for configuring client PC and Internet protocol security (IPsec) settings, with full Group Policy support for configuration and rules.
Approaching Windows Vista deployment as a sequence of small steps will greatly simplify the overall process and certainly make it seem less overwhelming. Before starting, know your overall process. Familiarize yourself with the information you’ll need, and know the potential challenges you will face at the key milestones. This will help keep you organized and avoid unnecessary complexity.
- Discovery—First take the time to look at Windows Vista from an IT management perspective. How will day-to-day processes be improved or changed? How will changes for the end users affect your interactions?
- Exploration—Dig a bit deeper into the management aspects of Windows Vista. What are the processes for managing an infrastructure comprised of Windows Vista PCs? How are images created and maintained? How can you use Group Policy more effectively to control the environment? How can you take advantage of the new security architecture to better protect the PCs, confidential data and the IT environment?
- Piloting—Plan out a methodical approach to introducing Windows Vista into your infrastructure. Begin in the lab with only a couple PCs, then step up to larger groups in a series of pilot deployments. How are group policy objects behaving? Have you uncovered any new application conflicts that need remediation? What hardware updates will you need to make before broad-scale migration?
- Rollout—Now that you have experienced deploying Windows Vista to multiple user groups, develop a plan to roll it out across your infrastructure. Should you roll out in a staged sequence, or convert the organization simultaneously? What end-user preparation and training will you need to coordinate? How soon will you be able to consolidate down to a single OS and image?
One of my favorite tools offered to help tackle the major steps in deployment is the Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment 2007 for Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system (BDD 2007). It delivers end-to-end guidance for efficient planning, building, testing, and deployment of Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system. You can find these tools by visiting the Microsoft website www.microsoft.com
and entering the keywords “business desktop deployment 2007” in the Search area in the upper-right corner of the page.Kris Wilson of Cincinnati, Ohio is a Senior Project Manager for Ray and Barney Group. He can be reached at