Base Windows Vista migration more than 50 percent complete

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
Back in March, Robins was not looking particularly good in comparison to other bases when it came to the progress toward changing the operating system of the base's 16,000 computers to Vista.

That job is supposed to be finished by Dec. 1, but soon after starting it in January, project managers in the 78th Communications Directorate realized they were on a pace that was not going to make the deadline.

A lot can change in a few months, however. Thanks to some high-tech resourcefulness, Robins has gone from bringing up the rear of Vista deployment to being a frontrunner. A total of 60 percent of the computers on base have been switched to Vista.

"Back in March we were one of the last bases for percentage complete and as of today we lead AFMC for percentage complete, and we are second in the Air Force for the amount of PCs we've deployed," said project manager Jonathan Kaupp. "It's a huge change. We've had other bases calling us and asking how we've gone from close to last place on the list, metrics wise, to leading pretty much everybody."

The reason for the improvement is lean analysis and innovative thinking.

At first they went with the traditional method of having someone go to each computer with a hard drive and make the change manually, which took up to three hours. It doesn't take a math wizard to figure out that with 16,000 computers and 10 people assigned to changing those over, the Dec. 1 deadline was nearly impossible.

Using lean analysis techniques and innovative thinking, the Communications Directorate team developed a process to automate the upgrade across the network.

This included scanning desktops to identify users' software and settings, automating the scheduling of the changeover with users, and loading Vista at night to minimize user disruption.

The end result, Mr. Kaupp said, is that Robins is doing with 10 people what other bases are doing with hundreds.

Robins simultaneously had several challenges to overcome.

The first was the result of a finding from an Operational Readiness Inspection, which stated Robins had software loaded on desktops without the appropriate licenses.

To remedy this finding, the team used the Vista transition as an opportunity to validate all software licenses, thus adding a significant workload to the process.

Another challenge was Robins' implementation of a consolidated help desk that optimized desktop support personnel, but reduced the manpower available for large projects. This forced the team to seek creative solutions to handle the 'surge' required for projects of this scope, Mr. Kaupp said.

"Initially we were lagging very far behind because of the complexity of what we were trying to do," he said. "We were trying to use a way that no one else was using because of our consolidated help desk and our software issues as well. However, the time invested in planning and process changes on the front end is really paying off on the back end."

Cariren DesRocher, lead project manager for the Vista migration, credits the success to a dedicated effort that involves leadership, team members, and help desk technicians within the Communications Directorate, as well as organizations across the base.

"There's been tremendous cooperation and support from everyone," she said.