DiData completes internal Vista SP1 deployment

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DiData completes internal Vista SP1 deployment

Managed services provider Dimension Data has this week completed a full-scale internal deployment of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) on the company's 300 Windows Vista computers.

The deployment meets Dimension Data's self-projected goal of going into full production of SP1 within four weeks of its official release to manufacturing, and is believed to be the first such deployment of its size in Australia.

Dimension Data has operated on Windows Vista since January 2007; a move that was timed to coincide with the company's purchase of some 300 new, Vista-capable computers.

According to Dimension Data's Chief Information Officer, Anthony Stevens, Microsoft's new software upgrade makes a number of performance and stability improvements to the operating system, as well as fixing issues with security, hibernation and file sharing.

"From my perspective, there are a number of security patches and improvements that get rolled up into this service pack; general performance in terms of usability has improved," Stevens said.

"There's nothing major [in terms of issues and fixes]," he said, "but I think, as with most things, it makes sense to be as current as possible with any software deployment, especially in the desktop context."

Dimension Data's full-scale deployment of SP1 comes after a 10-day pilot of the software update. Working with a team of Microsoft Solutions Infrastructure engineers, the company deployed the update to a pilot group of 20 users, to iron out any application compatibility issues.

"We've worked pretty closely with Microsoft over the last few months, obviously getting Beta and release candidate versions of the service pack that we could test prior to the release of the service pack a few weeks ago, which has been good," Stevens said.

"I think they've got a very aggressive and timely approach when it comes to software patches on a week-to-week, day-to-day, month-to-month basis, and I think in this case, the size [of the software update], is consistent with the time it's taken for Microsoft to get it out."

"There's a huge amount of change in the service pack that probably won't impact users directly, but a lot of it relates to general stability, performance and security, which are obviously concerns from an IT department's perspective," he said.

Still, not all of Dimension Data's computers are operating on Windows Vista currently.

Having experienced some compatibility issues between Internet Explorer 7 and some applications that Dimension Data's staff run from an enterprise environment, some users have chosen to remain on Microsoft Windows XP.

Stevens said that most of the previously-incompatible software has since been updated. The company plans to roll out Microsoft Vista on all its computers within the next few months, with an expectation of having replaced all XP workstations by the end of the year.

"From an operational support perspective, it's a little easier to support one operating system than two," he said, citing a higher quality of IT support, more efficient testing and the ease of packaging applications for deployment as benefits of having all Dimension Data computers run Windows Vista only.

Dimension Data's deployment of SP1 is expected also to encourage its clients' use of Microsoft's newest operating system.

"The big thing for us is really ensuring that clients are in the position where they have a managed operating environment; a desktop environment that is dynamic, that they can deploy any operating system to, any application to, and that they can control very well," Stevens said.

"Our rollout of service pack one probably gives them [clients] further confidence that Vista is an operating system that has been around for awhile, has now been proven in an enterprise environment like ours, and that any possible bugs, performance, compatibility or driver issues have largely been swatted out."
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