Austrade upgrades to XP on Vista's doorstep

Forklift upgrade to be repeated with new PCs and Vista

Microsoft's Windows Vista may have already been released to manufacturing but the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has just completed a migration of some 1450 clients to Windows XP and 70 servers to Windows Server 2003 across Australia and 60 other countries.

Austrade's globally distributed IT infrastructure has caused problems when deploying applications and updates but the use of an automation tool cut the operating system upgrade down to just six weeks, according to the department.

This comes five years after Windows XP desktop was released in October 2001.

Austrade used Altiris' Client Management Suite (Altiris CMS), including Deployment Solution and PC Transplant, to reduce its global roll out of application updates from "months to days" and cut its local office manager IT administration "by over 75 percent".

Windows Vista desktop is expected to be available to the enterprise market this month, with the consumer versions due by the end of January, 2007. Microsoft's next-generation server platform, codenamed Longhorn, is not due for release until the second half of 2007.

Computerworld has learned long-standing Austrade CIO Greg Field resigned only two months ago to take a managing partner position with professional services firm Ernst & Young. Field could not comment on Austrade's Windows upgrade project.

New CIO David Crook did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the project.

Austrade IT Engineer, Tony Van Eyk, said in the past, office managers and trade negotiators around the world had to act as IT managers and manually upgrade each PC.

"With Altiris CMS, users simply click on a link from within their browser which invokes a script that then initiates a complete data backup, software install based on 'personalities', network reconnection, data restore and finally, network logon," Van Eyk said.

Automating the software upgrade and migration also resulted in a reduction in the amount of procedural documents, which had taken up to two weeks to develop.

"When the software or migration projects were being done manually by an individual, it was vital that the documents be 100 percent foolproof," Van Eyk said. "That takes a lot of time and effort. Essentially, if anything could conceivably go wrong, the document had to cover it."

With the client and server OS migration now complete, Austrade is currently planning a major hardware refresh program, with the help of Altiris' PC Transplant solution.

"Now that we have the PCs migrated to Windows XP, PC Transplant will be used to automate the transfer of files and individual settings to each new PC," Van Eyk said.

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Rodney Gedda

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