Wilhelm began buying Vista-compatible PCs a year ago, but he installed XP on them pending the resolution to the SSO issue and to an unrelated VPN compatibility issue. (Wilhelm resolved than VPN issue in the five months that Vista was available to businesses but not to consumers, so Vista-equipped hospital users working from home never encountered the compatibility issue.)
He won't upgrade those PCs to Vista ("I didn't want to spend the time," he says) but he plans on bringing Vista into the hospital with the next department scheduled for a hardware refresh — the 100 or so nursing floor computers will all run Vista later this year, he notes. Because Wilhelm refreshes the hospital's PCs in three-year cycles, he expects to have replaced all 2,500 systems with Vista by 2011.
The SSO and VPN compatibility issues were all that stood in the way of an earlier Vista deployment, Wilhelm says. The issues that some users have had with the new security model didn't apply to a medical setting because his IT group had already locked down the PCs in a way similar to what Vista does by default. "We never gave users full access to the PC [administrator privileges], so they're not seeing a change" in what applications they can run from user mode, he notes.
One Vista security feature has caused some problems, Wilhelm notes: the BitLocker encryption capability. It is an all-or-nothing tool, encrypting the entire disk or nothing, which caused some access issues on PCs that are used by multiple people with separate user accounts. It also would encrypt only the C drive, even though the hospital uses a separate D partition for data, distinct from application and system files. Wilhelm hopes that Microsoft will change BitLocker so it can encrypt just specific files or folders, as some third-party encryption tools already do, and support encryption across multiple volumes.
Collegiate Housing sees easier OS deployment with Vista
Sumeeth Evans recalls the last time he had to manage an OS migration and he doesn't relish the memory. As IT director at Collegiate Housing Services, an 80-person college facilities management firm, it took Evans about five days to upgrade approximately 40 users to XP six years ago.
He had to make sure he used the right installation image for the specific computer model, running them manually using Symantec's Norton Ghost software. Even though he had an inventory of what applications users were supposed to have, it turned out to be inaccurate, so users came back complaining of missing programs. "I missed a lot of software that had been previously installed," he recalls.
Fast-forward to early 2007: Evans upgraded 80 systems to Vista in half a day. What was different? Microsoft's Windows Automated Installation Kit, a free download that let Evans use a single Vista installation image for all PCs, with drivers and applications loaded as needed.
But more than that, another Microsoft tool, the free Vista Hardware Assessment tool, had inventoried users' applications, so he had a complete inventory before reimaging the PCs; plus, it verified hardware compatibility. That last feature let Evans figure out which existing PCs could be retained, saving $20,000 in planned, new PC costs. In most cases, those salvageable PCs needed just a memory boost to 2GB to run Vista.