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Windows Server 2003 on HP ProLiant Servers : Assessment of the Enterprise - The Assessment Team

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The assessment team members consist of all stakeholders in the computing environment. There is no magic checklist here that will cover all businesses and situations. I have conducted assessments for large companies that filled a large conference room with participants, as well as for a small government entity where the entire team consisted of two people. You simply must involve all stakeholders in the project; that is, those who can add value to the total project. In addition to adding value, this team becomes part owners in the project. Because they have ownership in the project, they have incentive for it to be successful. The list shown here includes the areas of responsibility that were included in typical assessments I've been involved in:

  • Consultant: No, this isn't a marketing statement! A knowledgeable consultant is important to the success of the migration. This is a person who has had verifiable experience in conducting a migration, has a few battle scars that you can learn from, and can guide the project. This person also serves as a valuable third party who can see things from an unbiased viewpoint and render an opinion without any preconceived ideas. The key word of course, is knowledgeable. One of the most frequent calls coming to our support center begins, “We hired a consultant to set this up and we can't find him and we don't understand what he did.” You must verify the consultant's credentials.

  • Network administrator: This might include more than one person. Depending on the size of your organization, you might have different individuals responsible for the physical network (hardware, routing, and so on), another for Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) administration, another for DNS (Domain Name Server), another for Windows Internet Name Service (WINS), and so forth. Although you want to avoid a cast of thousands that will complicate the meeting, you also want to make sure you have the right people involved. One company identified two people who had a good knowledge of the network infrastructure, and included only those two individuals rather than the 10 or so who worked under them. They could contact others if needed or invite them to the meetings.

  • System Administrators: This should be limited to a single Administrator if possible. This person has a good overall view of the enterprise and is responsible for gathering security practice standards and identifying trouble spots, and has a good overall view of the enterprise. The system Admin can be an invaluable asset, and in fact might well be the person charged with the migration, especially in small organizations.

  • Workstation manager: Medium and large organizations typically have a person who is responsible for the workstations in the user community. This is a key role in the migration because it involves developing a staging plan to migrate the users, as well as identifying users that can assist in the pilot. If the end users are not satisfied with their workstations after being migrated, then a whole migration can be unsuccessful. Involving someone with intimate knowledge of the workstation environment and the users will mitigate this problem.

  • Mail and messaging: Whether you are using Exchange of some flavor or another mail and messaging system, the Administrator for those systems must be on the team.

  • Development team: If your organization has a development team that builds applications, it has a stake in the migration. These team members will provide input for critical or mission-critical apps that they are responsible for maintaining and testing in the new environment.

  • Projects: Leaders of special projects, such as research groups, should be involved to minimize the impact on current projects.

  • Management: Others you might want to involve include members of quality assurance (if there is one), human resources (HR), information technology (IT), and corporate management. A key member of the project team, the management sponsor, has a role on the assessment team to ensure that the data is gathered without interference.

The following lists contain descriptive titles of members of migration teams used by three different companies. There is no set list of people who should be on the team as this varies with each organization. However, these lists should give you an idea of whom you might want to include in your organization. Note that no association exists between these titles and the type of industry the company is in. So, although Company B is a hospital, it doesn't necessarily mean that other healthcare organizations would use this list of titles to form the team. Rather, it is simply intended to give you an idea of staff positions that others have used to get you started on filling your design team.

Company A:

  • Consultant

  • Desktop Architect

  • Security Administrator

  • PKI Administrator

  • DNS, DHCP, WINS Administrator

  • Windows NT Administrator

  • Desktop Help Desk Lead

  • Network Administrator

  • Network Security Director

  • Network Manager

  • Mail and Messaging Administrator

Company B:

  • Windows NT Administrators (and Exchange Admins)

  • Manager, Network Infrastructure

  • Manager, Information Technology

  • Director, Information Technology

  • Project Manager, Research & Development

  • Domain Administrator, Research & Development

  • Manager, User Workstations

  • Network Administrator (Infrastructure, DNS, DHCP)

  • Security Administrator

  • Application Development Manager

Company C:

  • Project Manager

  • Management Sponsor

  • Consultant

  • Remote Access Administrator

  • Application Development

  • Help Desk Director

  • IIS Administrator

  • Security Director

  • Transition Team Lead

  • DNS, DHCP, WINS Admin

  • SMS Admin

  • Manager, Desktop Group

  • Network Infrastructure Manager

  • Domain Administrator

  • Change Management Manager

  • Policies/Standards/Implementation Director

Note that Company C, a large global corporation, lists titles or group names of its design team, rather than individual titles used in the other companies. Note the inclusion of Project Management and Project Lead for Company C, as well as Change Management and Policies/Standards/Implementation. Company C also assigned team members to fill Windows 2000-related roles, such as Enterprise Administrator, Organizational Unit (OU) Structure Manager, and so on. Thus, the Windows 2000 administration roles were filled during the design phase of the project.

Your design team is responsible to set goals and define deliverables as a result of the design. This provides focus and allow you to set measurable criteria when reporting progress to upper management. Some of these goals might include solutions to certain problems, greater capacity, cost savings, Return on Investment (ROI), and improved security. Be as specific as you can in setting these goals.

With the goals established here, you will then perform the assessment, identify Windows 2003 benefits, and make recommendations. The goals should be specific enough to be measurable for ROI calculations as well as specific enough to help you identify the recommendations you want to make. If you do it right, the recommendations will simply be a list of “How To” instructions on achieving the goals in this section. Some examples of goals include

  • Reduce support costs by upgrading clients to Windows XP

  • Reduce domain and network administration costs by implementing a sophisticated (third-party) management tool, and training the IT staff on its use

  • Improve disaster-recovery process to restore a DC or GC by implementing the Install from Media (IFM) feature in the recovery process

  • Reduce network bandwidth requirements and thus improve overall network performance by implementing Windows Server 2003 and its more efficient AD replication algorithms

  • Reduce need for GCs at remote sites, or reduce network traffic caused by user logons at sites without GCs, by implementing Universal Group Membership Caching

I have taken Windows Server 2003 features that I believe will give specific benefit to the infrastructure, and stated them as goals and how the goals will be achieved. These goals can now be assigned to specific members of the design team to incorporate in their action plan.
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