ATO plans Christmas rollout for Windows 7

 

Two years in the planning.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has flagged plans to migrate its 22,000 staff across to Windows 7 machines from December this year, nearly two years after planning for the project began.

The Government agency will deploy the new PCs, equipped with Office 2010, over a six-month period between December 2012 and June 2013 in an effort to beat Microsoft's impending end-of-support for Windows XP and consolidate some 2000 applications.

Among other things, the agency hopes to move away from its reliance on the buggy and insecure Internet Explorer 6 for core applications like its Oracle/Siebel CRM package.

The agency's chief technology officer, Todd Heather, told iTnews the project had suffered “false starts and teething pains” in the early stages of planning, which began in January 2011.

“We had the project in our sight for some time,” he said.

Upgrading and migrating to the newer Windows 7 system was a no-brainer for the agency. Following a massive IT Change Program within the organisation, the ATO shifted from HP-owned EDS to Lockheed Martin for desktop services and contracted a Microsoft consultant to discuss large organisational rollouts.

A business IT steering committee co-chaired by Heather had planned slowly to ensure "business groups in ATO understood what was coming at them".

Despite calls from staff to begin the migration before December, he said the agency was moving slowly through project planning to ensure all applications are compatible or upgraded beforehand.

“We don’t want to start running the migration and getting people to digest the changes during the busiest time in the tax cycle,” he said.

Managing the change

The committee had sought to overcome the a series of perceived migration challenges: Windows was different, the browser was different and Microsoft Office was different.

To help overcome potential teething issues, staff were allowed to download the latest version of Microsoft Office 2010 for home use at a “very low price”.

Heather estimates a few thousand staff took advantage of the offer so they could get used to new features such as the radically overhauled “ribbon” interface in the productivity suite.

Test labs

Heather also wrestled with a more intractable issue; there were “at least 2000” business-developed applications including Excel macros, VisualBasic scripts and other mission-critical applications that required careful handling ahead of migration to Windows 7.

In November 2011, ATO established the first of two separate test labs to track and check which apps would break, which could be fixed, and which needed to have at least a temporary XP-like environment to function.

The "back paddock" allows end users to log into a remote virtual workstation and try out their macros and applications to see how well they would work.

The initial test lab is built on Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualisation (MED-V), an enterprise-class product that helps to overcome application compatibility issues with Windows 7.

Some 400 applications have been tested to date but only half actually work under Windows 7 or Office 2010.

“They are using some kind of idiosyncrasy that someone thought was a good way of programming, that turns out not to be supported by Microsoft in the new version,” Heather said.

“We are already finding there are some libraries of older versions of software that Microsoft does not include in their build any more.”

A second, industrial-strength test lab will be established next month to test ATO’s mainstream applications, which it is committed to support.

It has also updated its instances of Siebel CRM to support the new operating system.

Heather said ATO was keen to escape a dilemma of critical applications failing without proper compliance testing.

“We needed to pace the compatibility testing," he said. "That’s the congestion you get when you have products that can only work with certain versions of other products.”

Beyond the rollout

The complete rollout will take between four to six months, on a location-by-location basis. Heather said installations will occur over weekends with support teams bedded down with employees for the two weeks following deployment to iron out any issues.

They will address local configuration changes or last minute fixes for particular software drivers that use certain devices that may not be readily supported.

“It is not just a matter of putting a DVD in the drive and letting it happen," he said.

"Our configuration requires some legacy components that continue to support printers and other devices.”

Inevitably the final result will not reflect all the consumer features of Windows 7.

“We have no real policy against widgets but we don’t want to spend too much time unproductively as well," he said.

“For example, we’d like everyone to use the same calendar, rather have 22,000 flavours on the desktop.”

However Heather understands his users need to be given more choices than may have been the case with previous rollouts.

“We need to let people, within reason, to have their own say about how their desktops look,” he said.

“It would not surprise me if end users started developing their own apps for themselves.”

App store next year?

Any internally developed applications may ultimately be made available to wider staff through a SharePoint-based application store from next year.

“We want those clever people out there who are developing those applications, to register them so we have an idea of what they are and make sure they are being used appropriately and appropriately supported," Heather said.

ATO will promote use of such applications, rather than have people duplicate its functions.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


ATO plans Christmas rollout for Windows 7
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Another phone with Telstra's Blue Tick: The Samsung Galaxy S5
Apr 8, 2014
Samsung's latest flagship phone joins Telstra's list of recommended handsets for customers in ...
Run an online shop? This might be worth bookmarking
Mar 28, 2014
Things like Australian safety standards are probably the last thing on your mind, but just ...
Vodafone switches on 4G in Tasmania: list of locations
Mar 28, 2014
See a list of locations in Tasmania that now have access to 4G via Vodafone's network.
Samsung Galaxy S5 on sale from Telstra next month for $912
Mar 27, 2014
It's not cheap, but if you are looking to upgrade your phone then the Samsung Galaxy S5 could be ...
What Australian workplaces actually rely on tablet computers?
Mar 14, 2014
If you're curious about where tablets are being used at work, here are three examples.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1461

Vote