Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Linux Authors: Liz McMillan, Clinton Wolfe, Trevor Parsons, Carmen Gonzalez, Brett Hofer

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

Migration Planning for Linux Desktop Adoption

Five Steps for a Successful Windows-to-Linux Migration Plan

Corporate migration to a Linux desktop requires rigorous premigration planning to succeed. The goal of migration is to finish with a Linux desktop that is cost-effective and responsive to the organization's needs. Without proper data center planning, the migration won't meet this goal and can become a technical and organizational challenge.

During premigration planning, it's crucial to answer the questions: What can I migrate? What do I need to migrate? How much is it going to cost? Who's going to do it? And when is it going to happen?

It's useful to keep in mind what the organization's IT requirements will be in the future, what the current hardware lifecycle is, and what the time frame is for software licensing.

A company or agency determined to move IT towards web-based applications for key business activities can easily switch to a Linux desktop with a browser such as Firefox. An organization determined to increase the hardware lifecycle from three to five years can consider Linux desktops to extend the life of its old hardware. An organization with a large long-term software licensing deal due that expires in the next three years should test the Linux desktop, if for no other reason than to use it as a negotiating weapon. Lowering costs with Mozilla, Evolution and OpenOffice does not necessarily require a complete migration to a Linux desktop.

Alacos (www.alacos.com) uses a best-practices desktop migration methodology called Migration Mapping. Migration Mapping consists of five key steps necessary to a successful migration. They are:

  1. Audit the Current Environment
  2. Analyze the Audit Data
  3. Design the Solution
  4. Map to an Organizational Matrix
  5. Automate the Organizational Transition

Audit the Current Environment

An audit, the first key step, determines the actual cost of your current software and hardware environment, the applications currently in use and how the IT infrastructure is bound together. The point of this step is to determine how third-party applications, proprietary applications and external-facing applications (both proprietary and licensed) are deployed and used in your organization.

The base data to gather are the number of desktops in use, the number of applications used, the printer situation, line-of-business applications and the server and database infrastructure. Data on usage should be coordinated in a spreadsheet that contains information on software and hardware by department, by function and by business need. The cost of the OS, software, hardware, printing, back-end and support should be included.

The quickest, but least reliable, way to audit an organization's IT needs is to count software licenses. It will give you an overstated picture of software usage because most users rarely use all of the software installed on their desktops. This approach won't uncover any unlicensed software or illegal programs downloaded from the Internet that are being used. Knowing what's actually installed and used in an organization is crucial to creating a migration plan and integrating it successfully.

The most rigorous way to measure an organization's software use is to run an auditing and usage program on its network. Useful and actionable data will be available after a week of running auditing software, but it's preferable to run it for a full quarter to really understand changing software usage patterns with-in departments. For example, a finance department might use significantly different software during a quarterly or annual wrap-up than it does during a regular month.

There are various software tools available to conduct an audit. The Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.com) offers free trials of audit tools. Sassafras Software (www.sassafras.com) and Tally Systems (www.tallysystems.com) both offer commercial usage and auditing software. The cost can range from $15-$25 per computer for usage audit software licenses. Microcost (www.microcost.com) offers usage consulting in Europe and a lengthy report about software usage.

Beyond usage auditing, it's crucial to review the network and desktop data situation. Although many companies strive for all data to be on a network and backed up, that's rarely the case. Users have important business files on their desktops, as well as e-mail files and address books. Employees with laptops often don't keep data adequately synchronized to the network - if it's not automatic, they don't do it. Each organization is structured differently so it's important to spend time reviewing what business data resides on the network and what lives on the user desktop.

The last audit to undertake is to inventory the IT skills of both an organization's IT staff and its general population. Who on the IT staff can run Linux capably? Who already uses Linux at home? Who likes OpenOffice or StarOffice? Ask these questions at an early stage to identify the Linux champions in your company.

Analyze the Audit Data

The second key step, analyzing the audit data, requires reporting and visualization capabilities. Use a spreadsheet to sort and define data by group and function. Use Visio or Draw to create a visual map of the network and desktop environment. The goal here is to detail the IT structure and determine where migrating to desktop Linux would add value. It also pinpoints which groups can be migrated to Linux most easily.

It's usually a big surprise finding out what employees do with their desktops. The top activities are usually e-mail, Word documents and proprietary business applications (Internet or desktop). Applications like Excel and PowerPoint are usually found in heavy use only by small groups of key employees.

There are often a lot of programs installed on user desktops that shouldn't be there. They're either unlicensed software (remove it quick before you're visited by the BSA) or programs downloaded from the Internet. It's always interesting to find hacking tools hidden on the in-house network.

Games and Internet use are generally higher than most companies would like and good usage data may translate into changes in business policies. Switching to a Linux desktop will let IT administrators control software use more easily.

A typical audit will find that a company needs to replace its front-end mail client, office suite and web browser for security reasons and move employees to a network and printer environment using Samba.

Any changes in the desktop environment should reflect changes that have been made or will be made in the back-end infrastructure. Although one could switch to a new mail client and use a special connector to access a proprietary mail server, it's more useful to move the mail server to a Linux server running an open source mail server such as Open-Exchange.

Design the Solution

The third key step is to design the solution based on an analysis of the IT audit. Because the decision-making is based on data, a solution can be developed that meets the organization's needs. The goal is to build a Linux desktop that replaces Windows at a fraction of the cost with no loss in business capabilities. A data-centered process will allow a company to fix on an IT structure that outcompetes rivals in the future.

Use the data to determine what applications and servers need to be migrated. Then find out whether an alternative exists on Linux or whether a compromise solution is available.

The usual way to develop a solution is to go through a series of choices for each application. First, find a Linux version of the software. If there's no Linux version, find a viable alternative such as StarOffice instead of Microsoft Office. If there's no alternative, then consider emulators such as CodeWeavers, Win4Lin or VMWare to run Windows applications on Linux. If the emulator approach won't work, then run a terminal server such as Citrix or LSP to deliver desktop access to the Windows program.

If none of these solutions work, then port the application to either a web-based application or a Linux desktop application. Porting an application is time-consuming and expensive, but if a company is already moving to web-based applications then that approach fits into its overall IT business strategy.

An organization will usually choose a Linux distribution that delivers enterprise-level support and training. The current desktop distributions that provide these services are the Novell Linux Desktop, Red Hat Enterprise, Sun's Java Desktop System, Mandrakesoft and Turbolinux. Xandros delivers customer support and service to smaller and mid-sized enterprises.

Choosing a new mail client, web browser and office suite is straightforward. Linux alternatives exist for each of these applications. Office suites that are commercially supported are StarOffice, while OpenOffice is freely available. The biggest problem with current office alternatives is that Excel macros don't work in Calc, the alternate spreadsheet program. This can be a challenge for moving financial and accounting groups to open source office alternatives, but it's worth re-creating those macros in Calc so everybody in a company uses the same standard program.

The other issue for office applications is communicating with external business partners. Using PDF as the standard for business communications will mitigate most document issues. PDF is also more secure because it's virus-free.

One goal of software design is to drop applications. Many companies rely on outdated applications that don't meet business objectives. Moving to more flexible and modern applications can result in significant efficiency and cost-savings.

Map to an Organizational Matrix

The fourth key step in the process is to map the software solution to the hardware across an organizational matrix. An application matrix for each group in a company is applied against the group's desktop hardware. Every piece of software that's going on the desktop should be determined prior to implementation. Every new hardware system should be defined at this point.

Once the solution has been mapped to the organizational matrix, then software, hardware and training costs can be established. Overall, the cost of moving to a Linux desktop and the cost of going to the next-generation Windows system will be equivalent so long-term savings are seen through the OS, office applications, lower IT costs for network management and lower security risks.

Automate the Organizational Transition

The fifth and final key in pre-migration planning is to finalize the transition plan using automated migration tools. A transition plan consists of laying the software design and organizational matrix against the real-world organization and timeline to determine how to automate mass migration. Although these considerations have already played a part in developing the IT solution, this is the moment to place those plans against group schedules and deadlines.

The goal is to set down in detail who in the organization will migrate, when it will occur and what post-migration support will be needed. It's important to the success of the migration. Consider the quarterly and yearly cycles of the various groups. Take into account the trade show plans of the sales and marketing staff. Remember quarterly and annual financial preparations. Migrating during a group's busiest time ensures failure.

Every possible migration process that can be automated is defined at this point. Automation is crucial to mass migration. The transition plan should include who's doing the work using which migration tools for servers and desktops. Manually migrating user data and manually installing a desktop OS and software is a painstaking, error-prone process that requires an experienced Windows and Linux technician. Since it's time-consuming, migrating manually is expensive.

Conclusion

The most important part of a Linux desktop migration is to develop a rigorous migration plan during the pre-migration phase. Migration Mapping consists of the five key steps in a successful plan - Audit the Current Environment, Analyze the Audit Data, Design the Solution, Map to an Organizational Matrix and Automate the Organizational Transition. Following these five key steps provides a data center approach to revising an organization's desktop and software infrastructure.

SIDEBAR

Alacos: Linux Migration Specialists

Alacos (www.alacos.com) a Linux software company located in Seattle, Washington is focused on the migration of Windows data to Linux. Alacos is the maker of Linux Migration Agent, which can move data from a Windows PC to a Linux PC via a crossover cable or network. Linux Migration Agent can move email from Outlook to Novell's Evolution e-mail client, Internet Explorer browser settings to Mozilla and accomplish many other time consuming tasks that are involved in a Windows to Linux Migration.

More Stories By Luis Aguilar

Luis Aguilar is Vice President of Technology and a founder of Alacos, a Linux software company located in Seattle, Washington, focused on the migration of Windows data to Linux.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, had reached 30,000 page views on his home page - http://RobertoMedrano.SYS-CON.com/ - on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, and SOA World Magazine. He is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GENBAND, a leading developer of real time communications software solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The GENBAND team will be on hand to demonstrate their newest product, Kandy. Kandy is a communications Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that enables companies to seamlessly integrate more human communications into their Web and mobile applications - creating more engaging experiences for their customers and boosting collaboration and productiv...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - is now accepting submissions to demo smart cars on the Expo Floor. Smart car sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem.
Operational Hadoop and the Lambda Architecture for Streaming Data Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, representing a model of how to analyze rea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from ...
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
The IoT market is projected to be $1.9 trillion tidal wave that’s bigger than the combined market for smartphones, tablets and PCs. While IoT is widely discussed, what not being talked about are the monetization opportunities that are created from ubiquitous connectivity and the ensuing avalanche of data. While we cannot foresee every service that the IoT will enable, we should future-proof operations by preparing to monetize them with extremely agile systems.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. Learn about IoT, Big Data and deployments processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”