Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Gerardo A Dada, JP Morgenthal, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: 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
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.