As England prepare for their match tomorrow against Ireland in the 6 Nations and, with any luck take on another win, I have spoken to Ron Lafferty, the IT Manager at Johnny Wilkinson’s old school; Lord Wandsworth College. Ron has just led the college through the deployment of Microsoft Windows 7 a move that has scored positive results and given them the ‘win’’ they were looking from a software upgrade.
Back in March 2010, the decision was made to deploy Windows 7 and Office 2010, a decision that as you will read, really paid off. With their school policy of not replacing any desktops that were less than four years old and laptops less than three, they were not sure if the machines they had would make the move easily and had to prepare for the possibility of having laptops, computers and printers that wouldn’t work, and reverting back to their old system.
As a test, all staff were asked to bring in one of every machine that they had, from RM and Viglen desktops, to Acer Laptops, to see if the deployment of Windows 7 would be a clear run or whether they would they come up against a defence that would make the deployment a struggle. With over 10 different types of hardware to find drivers for, this did seem a bit of a challenge especially with some manufactures advising that this would prove too difficult to complete and saying the deployment wouldn’t work.
Not to be defeated, Ron and his IT team went ahead for the ‘try’, and after running tests found that actually despite warnings from some, the test machines not only deployed to Windows 7 but did so in a straight forward manner. This doesn't go to say that the deployment didn’t go with the odd little hiccup along the way on the software front, but most legacy software worked well and as Ron describes, the staff were ‘’very pleased with the test result.’’
The decision to go for a ‘try’ moved Ron and his team forward for the full ‘conversion’ and deploy Windows 7 to all 405 computers in the college.
“There was no repeat of issues we had expected from past experiences when performing software upgrades. One previous rollout had wiped whole systems and we could not afford a repeat of that situation. The level of system support calls between October 2010 and January 2011 went down to next to nothing. With the old network, support calls had played a big part in the IT team’s life and now our customers, the teachers and students, are much happier with what we provide. The process to move over was a smooth as silk!”.
Ron found the rollout so “smooth” that they’ve recommended deploying Windows 7 to two other independent schools that are now planning their rollouts with the assistance of Microsoft partner Rivanet.
So, not only have they taken on the tactics of deploying 10 test machines first before grappling with the overhaul of other machines, but they tackled opponents whose advise that this wouldn’t work and came out on top. For me, that shows a clear win.