Base prepares for Windows Vista migration

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA
By the end of 2009, all computers at Robins will be running on Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system.

The migration from Windows XP to Vista is mandated by the federal government, in part to stay current - Microsoft has said it will stop supporting XP by the end of this year. Primarily, however, the migration will increase security.

"The need to migrate to Vista is driven by the need to ensure we have a secure processing environment," said Tena Dominy, 78th Communications Group deputy director. "Vista brings some additional layers of security that safeguard us here at the base."

She said in order to be compliant with the federal mandate by the December deadline, teams are approaching the implementation aggressively. "We hope to get this accomplished early so we are not challenged at the end of the year," Ms. Dominy said.

Converting all systems to Vista will involve a complete "wipe and load," meaning hard drives of current systems will be wiped clean and the new operating system will be installed. More than 16,000 computers will be converted with this initiative.

"When you have a large project like this, it becomes very difficult to accomplish," said Jonathan Kaupp, co-project manager for Vista implementation. "We are accomplishing a major rollout which would normally take an industry two years, and we are trying to accomplish it in the next six to eight months."

He said if the tasking was a simple wipe and load, it would not be that difficult. What makes it so problematic is the need to make sure all software on current machines is authorized, licensed and compatible with Vista.

Keith Council, co-project manager for the implementation, said the first step is to look at hardware compatibility.

"We will go through and identify what will actually be compatible with Vista," Mr. Council said.

He said through normal life cycle replacements, computers that could not meet the demands of Vista and have already lived their life expectancy will be replaced with computers that have Vista preloaded. About 4,500 systems will need to be replaced. Other computers will receive hardware upgrades to ensure they meet optimal Vista specifications.

In order to make a smooth transition, the 78th CG will rely on users' involvement.

"We'll be looking to our customers to support us in this deployment. We cannot do it without them," Ms. Dominy said. "We need for them to ensure their data is stored in the standard location, their My Documents folder, to enable us to locate it for transfer to their new computer."

They should validate that all the software on their computer is needed for their job and has a valid license. Prior to the upgrade, customers may become familiar with Vista through online training available via the IT Central icon on their desktops.

Although the requirement to migrate to Vista has received some opposition, many who have made the jump to Vista are happy.

"The users who have gone through the testing and have been working with Vista are very pleased," Mr. Council said. "There has been a lot of positive feedback."

Ms. Dominy said because no unauthorized or unlicensed software will be allowed on a Vista desktop, the opportunity exists to do a self-inspection for compliance to software regulations. She also said because the migration will further standardize desktop configurations, the Communication Group's service to base customers will improve.