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By Kris Barker

In recent months, it has become increasingly clear that a shift to Microsoft Vista, by many measures, compares to the complexity of the early 90’s mass transition from MS-DOS to Microsoft Windows. And while organizations assessing their timeframes for OS migrations correctly factor budgets, hardware capabilities, and IT resource availability into their decisions, many IT professionals preparing for this upgrade are overlooking a vital consideration that is especially relevant in the case of Vista: Will the software that is the lifeblood of the business still run after the transition is made?

There are many tools available to help IT professionals evaluate the enterprise’s hardware and software readiness. They are generally known as IT asset management (ITAM) tools, which, in addition to other capabilities, provide a snapshot of the installed assets on each desktop, as well as a general picture of overall migration readiness. With this information, IT professionals can begin to evaluate the potential impact and realistic timeframe of a Vista transition.

Prior to spending a single dollar on any software upgrade—particularly for a new operating system—an ITAM tool should be deployed to inventory every PC and server within an organization. Such tools generate reports on key indicators such as available memory and processor speeds, often providing a comparison against a baseline of specified recommended or minimum requirements. When aggregated, this information can help IT professionals make a reliable estimate of how much investment is needed to prepare computers for the migration. If the investment is greater than the expected ROI of the upgrade, it may be best to save the money and wait until a more strategic opportunity arises to upgrade both the hardware and operating system at the same time.

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Kris Barker is the CEO of Express Metrix.
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