Microsoft customers weigh Vista pros and cons

"A sports car is no good if it has one gear in it," said Adrian Davey, the head of IT at Tube Lines told participants of a Microsoft roundtable yesterday to discuss adoption of latest operating system (OS) Vista.

The message that came across from Tube Lines and public sector user, Newham Borough Council was that the latest Microsoft operating system offered good functional improvements from a central management and security point of view.

But it didn't necessarily add value in and of itself to the user, unless used in conjunction with other parts of the Microsoft portfolio.

Tube Lines, which provides maintenance services for trains and infrastructure on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly London Underground lines, has nearly finished migrating its IT infrastructure to Vista.

Davey said: "On the back of Vista we are deploying a standardised, manageable and supportable platform. It is a starting point, enabling better collaboration and information flow across systems. It's about the whole technology stack, genuinely enabling true enterprise visibility."

Geoff Connell, Newham chief information officer, added: "The benefits [of Vista] to us are two-fold: it's about reducing the total cost of ownership and the benefits that brings to us as management and it's about getting value from the whole stack."

The East London authority has deferred the full roll out of Vista to workers until 2009. "We didn't feel we could go with Vista a year ago because of application compatibility," Connell added. "We are in the midst of moving corporate headquarters and took the business decision to hold off, with the exception of targeted roll out areas, like libraries, where the IT we use is very visible to citizens."

Both bodies spoke of the improved granularity of security and management capabilities, where one such example around power management and the ability to switch a PC off after it's left inactive, but restore its desktop to the same point when switched back on was saving both organisations up to 50 per seat in power requirements.

But both said preparation for a major migration was key and worked with application compatibility testing specialist AppDNA, who said on average, 10 to 20 per cent of enterprise applications would require remedial work to get them to work with Vista.

Both Davey and Connell said doing the preparation work up-front had helped smooth the migration to Vista. But they still had some way to go to derive full benefit from it, by integrating it with the likes of Microsoft's latest versions of SharePoint, Exchange and its server products.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.