RG035 – Migrating to Win7 with Workspace Manager

By Sascha Maier

 

The motivation for this article was that I felt a guideline was needed,  describing a best practice for the Migration to Windows 7 using the Workspace manager. Of course when you already have the Workspace manager in use it’s easy but what if not? What if you step into a new customer site and you have a lot of experience with the RES Workspace Manager product – but this migration is new to you. You need to setup a plan and explain the local staff what has to be done in order to move. I remember the situation being at customers doing a pre-sales demo and the salesguy next to me was showing this video:

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The customer loved it and said “WOW! – Where do I sign up for a POC?” I remember the first Windows 7 migration POC and I was searching for a guideline or best practice without much success. So during the migration I noted down some things you need to be aware of.

 

Let’s start with the Basics:

As for any migration, in a nutshell you have to know where you are coming from and where you are going to.  Specify how we are going from point A to point B, then have the stakeholders agree on the scope of the migration. This goes especially in regards to the set of applications and settings you will migrate.

The procedure: It is my ambition here to give you a practical recommendation on what the procedure can look like. For a big migration, you need very good detailed planning and this article is more aimed at giving you the big picture for which steps you need to perform. Of course good testing is always required in between each step. In this article, I will focus on highlighting pitfalls which might come up.

Overview / Steps:

  1. Analyze the existing environment
  2. Import environment settings like mapped drives, printers and applications into Workspace Manager
  3. Specify which user settings needs to be migrated
  4. Execute deployment of Workspace Manager using “Stealth Mode”
  5. Verify settings have being captured
  6. Deploy Workspace Manager to Windows 7

Let’s go through the steps:

 

1. Analyze the existing environment

The very first step for the migration of an unmanaged environment, is to push the Desktop Sampler to the existing client machines to get a picture about what’s going on out there. The stand-alone software can be deployed to every windows client and I can recommend placing the produced .DTS files on a share. That way you can pick them up at one place for your whole environment. In the Workspace Manager Admin Guide you will find all the necessary parameters for the deployment on pages 31-32. The Desktop Sampler will collect the following information:

Context

  • User name, logon domain, logon server
  • Domain group membership
  • Organizational Unit of user
  • Computer name, computer domain
  • Organizational Unit of computer
  • Operating System
  • Device Capabilities (CPU/Memory)
  • Network IP address

Composition

  • Applications exposed in Start Menu
  • Drive and Port Mappings
  • Network Printers
  • Drive Substitutes
  • Data Sources

The recommended sampling period is between 2-4 weeks, however you are likely to experience that customers, more specifically IT admins will not wait so long, as they would like to carry on implementing and testing the cool stuff, instead of waiting several weeks before they can carry on.  My recommendation is therefore to pick out 2-3 real “test rabbits” among the users, and use their .dts files after just 1 day. This will allow you to carry on importing the first and perhaps most important items into the Workspace Manager. As for the rest of the users, let the Desktop Sampler keep running and and pick up the DTS files after 2-4 weeks. After that you can analyze the whole environment and usage. Best case however is still that you wait and import the DTS files after the recommended period.

You can find a preconfigured Automation Manager building block for the Desktop Sampler here. Make sure however that you update it with the latest Desktop Sampler installer from the RES portal.

 

2. Import env. settings like drives, printers and apps into WM

Now it’s time to import all the collected Desktop Sampler data into the Workspace Manager, using the Workspace designer, so you can start specifying things for the migration.

 

3a. Specify which user settings  to be migrated (App level)

Once you have imported settings like mapped drives, printers and applications, it’s important to activate the Capture targeted items once for managed applications and track further changes so after deployment all the settings for the certain application will be captured. There is a good article on the RES blog here which explains all settings very detailed. From my experience this is important information to have.

I also can recommend using the templates delivered by the Workspace Manager as they work really well:

If you have any applications which are not on the templates list you should choose “Track any settings” which is described on the RES blog in this article.

IMPORTANT: Always track only settings which are absolutely necessary. If you don’t know which keys or files are changed or produced by the application, use the “Sampled Data” tab to obtain the settings. Her you can really tweak the login process as it don’t make sense to capture really everything, especially for large applications.

 

3b. Specify which user settings needs to be migrated (User settings level)

The next part will be the User settings you would like to move from environment A to B. For example: You would like to migrate the user files from Desktop, Internet Favorites, My documents to the new Windows 7 machine.

For this purpose you could use the Workspace Manager internal variables %Desktop%, %Favorites%  and %Personal%, combined with the folder tree captured user setting type,  because the users are likely to have subfolders in these paths, which you would like to capture as well.

IMPORTANT: Please note that you may experience trouble, if you migrate from aWindows XP operating system in a different language than english. At the time of writing, a small bug was discovered in Workspace Manager 2011 (9.5.0.x), for which a fix has been made available already. Workspace Manager 2011 will incorrectly preserve the original foreign-named path in the profile, rather than restoring settings into the correct one. You will need to contact RES Support in order to obtain the mentioned fix.

 

4. Deploy WM in “Stealth Mode” to the existing environment

Once you are happy with the User settings you have chosen to pick up, you need to think about deploying the Workspace manager to the clients out there. How many clients to deploy to per wave is entirely up to you, your project plan, available resources and your environment. One way of doing this is to use Stealth mode, so the user won’t see or feel anything, as its all happening in the background. For information on how to implement Stealth Mode, please check out this article.

In the stealthmode article, an important topic is the usage of Workspace Models. There is an article specifically about that here. As a part of the stealth deployment, you would typically switch off the mechanism to deploy and modify files in the users home directory. This feature is located under Composition|Files and Folders|User Home Directory. If you for one reason or another decide to switch this on and use it as part of the stealthmode deployment.  please test and verify settings in the default PWRUSER.ini file before you initiate the deployment. In this file you can define certain things which can change the look and feel of your current environment. As an example, I experienced the following during a project. Below you can see the look of the Start Menu before I pushed the Workspace Manager to the Client in Stealth Mode using the default settings in the PWRUSER.ini:

The above can be addressed by setting the correct value (either Yes or No) for the SmallIcons= entry in the file, as shown on the right. There is more information about the contents of pwruser.ini file in RESKB article Q200958 and in this RESug article. The morale of the story is, if you use Homedrive management as part of stealthmode, make sure you adjust this setting.

 

5. Verify settings have being captured

Before you start deploying RES Workspace Manager into the whole environment, be sure you verify user settings have being captured. For this I strictly recommend checking up on the current group of users you are dealing with in terms of migration. The best tool for the job is the built-in Workspace Analysis function. Make sure you do not have errors in the User Settings section, as otherwise settings will not be moved.

6. Deploy Workspace Manager / Move to Windows 7

As for the new environment, I assume you will put the Workspace Manager into your basic master image, or perhaps you will install it using a software deployment solution.  Make sure the Workspace Composer columb for the WM agent is set to Automatic (as shown on the right) so it will start at login to deliver the user settings. If you are doing an unattended installation of the Workspace Manager on new systems, use the MSI parameter AUTORUNCOMPOSER=Yes. See the Workspace Manager online help or this RESguru article for more information on unattended installation and other parameters.

 

Troubleshooting

If your settings are not being transfered to where they are supposed to be, first thing is to check the Workspace Analysis for errors and make sure the users home drive is connected. The reason is that this place is the default location where User Settings are stored. See Composition|User settings for details in the Workspace Manager Console.

With this article, I hope I was able to give you the big picture about the different steps and how you have to think using the Workspace Manager for a Windows 7 migration in an unmanaged environment – of course there is more to write about and yes every environment is different but again good planning and testing is the key to make the Project successful.

My next article will also be about Windows 7 migration but about using the Automation Manager instead.

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