Tuesday 04th of August 2020

Migration to Linux

For many companies, migrating

But for those charged with spearheading the actual migration, the project may seem difficult, unwieldy, or untenable. They may fear unanticipated technological roadblocks as well as employees reticent to give up the tools they are used to using.

Before launching into a migration, make sure your reasons for migrating are business-driven. "You'll fail if you start a migration from the ideological side instead," notes Stefan Werden, leader of the Linux architecture team for Novell SUSE for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

To make that decision, conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis, projected out several years, based on what it would take to migrate and what it would cost not to migrate--not only financial costs, but other costs, such as the amount of overall control you want over your organization's software requirements. With a Windows-to-Linux migration, "nobody can force you to upgrade or deny you a security fix. You always call the shots, so you are guaranteed to save money and retain more control in the long run," says Nicholas Petreley, a Linux analyst at IT market intelligence firm Evans Data Corp. of Santa Cruz, Calif.

Of course, reducing costs can be another driving factor in the decision-making process. According to Forrester Research, 68% of companies in North America consider lowering overall operating costs a top priority, and Linux is one means to that end.

To achieve success in a Windows to Linux desktop migration, experts advise planning, planning, and more planning. Before starting, take these steps:

Get executive buy-in.This step is crucial. Without executive support, your project may be doomed to failure. By gathering this support before launching your project, you can be sure it will be supported, both financially and otherwise.

  • Make sure your organization is a good candidate for a Windows-to-Linux desktop migration.According to Werden, those that are good candidates generally are looking for ways to reduce the cost of IT and more control of employee desktops. In addition, these organizations use standard applications and software or need only basic data entry functions and often need remote application on mainframe, Unix and Windows on the same desktop.
  • Examine the existing environment and understand it thoroughly. Also, consider whether it makes sense to invest in new hardware, or whether you will be migrating with existing hardware.
  • Choose your flavor of Linux carefully. It doesn't matter much whether you settle on Red Hat, SUSE, Mandriva, Gentoo, Debian, or another flavor altogether. It's more important that your migration team is comfortable with the Linux distribution chosen.
  • Identify which employees within the organization are the best candidates for a Linux-based alternative desktop. Often, these include transactional workers and developers -- employees who rely on basic applications like Web browsers, productivity suites, and email -- and not workers who routinely use powerful programs like Photoshop or Macintosh-based applications. "It's about identifying needs or pockets where you can save the greatest amount of money with minimal disruption," notes Susan Jeffries, marketing manager for the Java Desktop System at Sun Microsystems Inc.
  • Prepare employees. There is nothing worse than coming into work on Monday morning and being treated to an entirely new desktop, with entirely new expectations. In addition, set up a program to train employees on the new system before unveiling it.
  • Consider using outside consultants.Unless you or members of your team have attempted such a migration before, it can be well worth the money to hire an outside consultant. Doing so can save countless hours of frustration. "When you run into a problem like not being able to get something to print, someone familiar with Linux will be able to fix it in 10 minutes. If you don't have such a person, it could take a week to fix the problem," Petreley says. Consultants charge in various ways--by the hour, or by the project. A reasonable hourly price range for general consulting with an experienced systems engineer costs $125 to $225 per hour. Total cost depends on geographic location, the cost of consultants in the area, and the number of employees, environment and number of applications to migrate. Typically, a migration consulting service may begin with a workshop, proof of concept and architecture and implementation review.

Once you have finished planning and preparing for the migration, it's time to choose a single migration target -- generally a department instead of an individual -- to ensure that your strategy will work. By migrating applications used by specific groups in turn, you'll encounter less resistance. "A department is a good, manageable unit that generally has a core defined business function and a mix of user types," says Jordan Rosen, CEO of systems integrator Lille Corp. of Albany, N.Y.

And by starting small, you'll have a chance to make mistakes without impacting the entire organization. You'll also prove your business case to executives and show employees that migration can work.

But migrating individuals within a group is a poor idea, as it can lead to different members of the same group using different tools and being unable to share knowledge about the new environment, notes Mike Sheffey, CEO of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Versora, a software developer offering Windows to Linux migration solutions. "And if you move one person at a time, you'll need to be certain that the new processes are 100% compatible with the old, or else time will be lost," he says.


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