Simplifying PC Migrations

by Dan Orzech

Most PC purchases today go to replace existing machines. Intel, IBM, Microsoft and other firms are now starting to focus on making it easier to migrate software and data from old machines to new ones.

Everyone knows the feeling: a shiny, brand new PC shows up on your desk, with a huge hard drive, tons of memory, and all the latest whiz-bang technology.

But then comes the headache. Not only do you have to get all your applications installed on the new system, but you have to make sure all your files get copies over, and that your settings and preferences are set up correctly.

That process is repeated daily in organizations around the world. The typical computer user today gets a new PC every three to four years. In mature PC markets like North America and Europe, up to 70% of PC purchases are now replacing older computers. And companies are now beginning to recognize the hidden cost involved in migrating to new systems.

To help reduce the woes involved in migrating to new systems, Intel, IBM Microsoft, Symantec and a number of smaller vendors this week announced the formation of the PC Migration Work Group. The group aims to create tools and processes for making the migration experience seamless and part of a new computer’s out-of-the-box experience. It also hopes to convince software vendors to take into account migration issues when designing software. The group plans to issue a white paper shortly with guidelines for ISVs on reducing migration issues.

In addition to the large vendors, the group also includes Altiris, Detto Technologies, Eisenworld, Laplink, Miramar Systems, and Tranxition.

Migration Cost: More Than The PC
The PC Migration Work Group found that it typically costs companies between $100 and $200 to migrate data to a new PC. That cost could easily soar to over $1,000 however, if a company doesn’t have an efficient process set up for the migration. “Some companies will send out a technician to do the whole thing by hand,” says Alec Gefrides, an Intel manager who chairs the PC Migration Work Group. “It could take them three days to copy over the files one by one, set up the applications and make sure the user environment is set up correctly. At that point, doing the migration can cost more than the PC itself.”

One company which has developed an efficient system for migrating users to new computers is GlaxoSmithKline, where the process typically takes about two hours, according to Larry Ward, a customer engineer with Siemens Business Services, which handles GlaxoSmithKline’s upgrades and new installs. Ward and two other technicians together do about 25 migrations a week. The process generally takes about two hours in all, says Ward. Applications are downloaded over the network from servers, rather than installed from PCs, ensuring that the latest version is installed. Users’ profiles for applications like Lotus Notes are also stored centrally on servers, which makes it easy to recreate the user environment on the new computer. While the company holds on to the old equipment for five days, just in case, “it’s rare that we have to go back and find something that wasn’t copied over,” says Ward.

Reprinted from

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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