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Planning

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The first three steps of Systems Management Server (SMS) deployment involve planning for the testing and rollout steps. First, you'll want to study the products and processes to be used for their possible interactions with SMS. Next, a team should be formed that can draft a high-level project plan for testing and evaluating Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95. This phase also includes gathering other resources, such as equipment and software. Finally, the planning stage of deployment includes defining the preferred client configurations. At this stage, you'll need to make decisions about the features of the new software to be used in your organization as a whole and/or in specific departments.

On This Page

Step 1: Studying the Products
Step 2: Team Formation and Initial Planning
Step 3: Defining the Preferred Client Configuration

Step 1: Studying the Products

An effective Systems Management Server (SMS) installation is integrated into the overall enterprise computing environment. Be sure to consider the requirements of each component as you design your entire network. This is especially important if you use a combination of operating systems or if you use operating systems from different vendors.

The core components of SMS run on the Windows NT Server operating system, and SMS uses the SQL Server™ database environment as its data repository. You should be familiar with these products as well.

You might be deploying Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 on a network that includes Windows NT, LAN Manager, Novell NetWare, or IBM® LAN Server. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the products that compose your present and planned networks, and with the interoperability and connectivity issues they involve.

Additional Documentation and Tools

This guide assumes that you are sufficiently familiar with Windows 95, Windows NT Server, SMS, SQL Server, and Office for Windows 95 to administer a network that uses these operating systems and applications. You might need to refer to some or all of the following documents while you plan and complete your deployment of Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 using SMS:

  • Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 Evaluation and Migration Planning Kit (part # 098-61665)

  • Windows 95 Deployment Guide

  • Windows 95 Resource Kit

  • Windows 95 product and documentation

  • Systems Management Server Administrator's Guide

  • SQL Server product documentation, version 4.21a or 6.0

  • Windows NT Server product and documentation

  • Windows NT Resource Kit for Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server version 3.51

  • Office for Windows 95 Deployment Guide

  • Office for Windows 95 Resource Kit

  • Getting Results with Microsoft Office for Windows 95

  • Office for Windows 95 product and documentation

  • Microsoft Project® (optional)

  • See the last section in Step 2 of this guide for information on staff training

  • MSTV Video Series: This video series reviews using SMS to deploy Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95. A brief description of each video follows:

    Microsoft SMS #1: Automating Your Upgrade to Windows 95 & Office for Windows 95

    One of the significant challenges facing many organizations today is how to effectively distribute and manage software to the desktop. To assist you with the deployment of Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95, we analyze the different options available for organizations to manage their software upgrade process. Tune in for a look at the challenges, a review of the options available to you and a look at where Systems Management Server (SMS) could be the best choice for your deployment.

    Program Length: 60 min.

    95MSTV-2883 MSTV: Microsoft SMS #1: Automating Your Upgrade to Windows 95 & Office for Windows 95

    Microsoft SMS #2: 10 Steps you need to know for Automating Your Upgrade

    The key to success in any software deployment, whether it is for 10 or 10,000 desktops, is planning. This show takes you through an in-depth look at how to plan the automation of your upgrades to Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 utilizing Systems Management Server (SMS). What steps do you need to take? What issues do you need to consider? How should you allocate your time and resources? This show will take you through the specifics of how to plan and implement a successful software upgrade. The steps covered here are not specific to Microsoft software but can work across any software rollout or upgrade.

    Program Length: 90 min.

    95MSTV-2884 MSTV: Microsoft SMS #2: 10 Steps You Need to Know for Automating Your Upgrade

    Microsoft SMS #3: Implementing In Your Organization

    In the second show, we reviewed the planning and steps required for a successful upgrade. Here, we'll focus on the implementation of those steps and show you the specifics of upgrading your installed base to Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 using Systems Management Server. The process for automating your upgrade will be demonstrated in both Novell Netware and Microsoft Windows NT Server environments.

    Program Length: 90 min.

    95MSTV-2885 MSTV: Microsoft SMS #3: Implementing In Your Organization

    Please call Mobiltape 1-800-369-5718 to order these videos.

Step 2: Team Formation and Initial Planning

Once you are familiar with the products that will be deployed, you need to assemble a planning team and provide them with the tools and the authority that they need to do the job. Then the team can begin the work of planning the deployment process and can assemble the resources needed to carry out that plan. This step is critical to any large-scale deployment, whether you will use software management tools or perform the deployment manually.

This step should produce a cohesive team, a good idea of the combination of hardware and software currently in use in your organization, and a solid general plan.

Assemble the Planning Team

The following table describes the tasks involved in setting up the team and getting it started.

Assemble Planning Team and Tools

Task

  1. Choose members of the planning team.

  2. Choose a project manager to manage the entire effort. This individual needs the authority and responsibility required to complete the deployment successfully.

  3. Gather for a project kickoff meeting to discuss the project.

  4. Assign individual roles and responsibilities to all team members.

  5. Set objectives and milestones for the planning phase.

  6. Gather the tools to support the project and make them available to the project team.

Composition of the Planning Team

The planning team should include representatives from a variety of units in the organization. Depending on the nature of your organization, you'll probably want to include people from the following areas:

  • Corporate Management

  • Information Systems Management

  • Corporate System Architecture Planning (for technical leadership)

  • Technical Staff (LAN administrator, WAN administrator, and database administrator for the SQL server)

  • Line-of-Business Management

  • End-User Community

Project Leader

The choice of project leader is critical to the success of the entire effort. Select an individual with a good mix of management, organizational, and technical skills, and empower that person with the authority necessary to complete the project in a timely manner. Your organization might choose a Microsoft Solution Provider to serve as project leader. The Solution Providers are familiar with the products and processes, and they are here to help.

Sample Inventory

When you set up the lab as described in Part 2, Step 4, you will need to simulate your organization's computing environment as closely as possible. To do so, you need a fairly accurate idea of what that environment is. If your organization is already using Systems Management Server (SMS), you can query your SMS database for this information. Otherwise, survey a representative sample of your network to identify the hardware and software typically used on client and server computers.

Prepare a Test Lab

Set aside the physical space for the lab, and acquire the hardware and software you need to simulate your organization's computing environment in the lab. If your organization uses multiple networking platforms (for example, a mix of Windows NT, LAN Manager, and NetWare), be sure to test on all the platforms in use. If you will be conducting the final deployment through multiple SMS sites, be sure to simulate the weakest site-to-site link in the lab.

Plan to maintain the lab on a permanent basis. You will need to test every large-scale deployment of critical software; and it is easier and less expensive to maintain a lab than to set up and tear down the lab repeatedly.

Develop Initial Project Plan and Schedule

One of the first goals of the planning team is the preparation of an overall project plan and schedule. This includes assigning tasks to individual team members. A product such as Microsoft Project can be helpful in developing a realistic schedule. Be sure to consider the factors in the following table.

Factors in Preparing the Initial Project Plan and Schedule

Factors

Things to consider

Choose a pilot upgrade site (for example, a department or a workgroup).

Identify one or more groups of computers for pilot upgrades before developing the project plan. The number, size, and characteristics of the pilot group or groups will affect project scheduling and resourcing.

Include all tasks. Don't assume anything.

Include explicit recurring tasks for such items as project status reporting, team meetings, and other similar organizational and communications activities. If they are not included, they either will not take place or will impact the schedules of fully committed resources.

Define start and end dates for all tasks and steps in the process.

This level of detail is important in measuring project progress and making mid-course adjustments to avoid delays. Microsoft Project can help you devise and track the schedule.

Prioritize tasks.

Identify critical paths and sequences. For example, if you need to purchase equipment or software for the lab, the orders must be placed so that the equipment is available when the team is scheduled to set up the lab.

Schedule regular project reviews and assessments.

This lets you fine-tune the schedule or the allotted resources, as necessary, before delays are propagated throughout the process. If things go more quickly than expected, it lets you take advantage of the extra time.

Plan ahead.

Look ahead at the tasks to be completed. Think about what must be done next. Consider what might stand in the way.

Be flexible.

A 100 percent accurate project plan might not be feasible at this point. Expect to revise the plan based on the information and experience gained during the lab and pilot testing tasks.

Carefully plan Steps 1 through 5 (through the lab test of the rollout) in detail.

Include well-defined tasks because these steps are critical and will drive the remainder of the project.

In planning Steps 6 through 10 (i.e., the pilot rollout through ongoing support), focus on defining required tasks and developing a rough schedule.

Attempt to identify major milestone dates. During initial planning, you do not have all of the information you need to schedule every task with total accuracy. Do not commit to dates that management may later expect to be met. Instead, let management know which dates are subject to change and why.

Assemble Installation and Support Teams

Once the project plan and schedule have been completed, reviewed, and approved, the next task is to assemble the installation and support teams and prepare a staffing plan to accomplish the specified subtasks. The installation and support teams will be used in testing as well as during the production rollout.

The assigned staff must have the skills to handle the new technical architecture of Windows 95 and the technical requirements of the SMS environment. Relying too heavily on learning on the job, especially during Steps 1 through 7 of this process, could impair the project's overall success. Training courses for key personnel could be an excellent investment. Several recommended training courses are listed in the following section. Refer to Step 1, "Studying the Products," in the section titled "Additional Documentation and Tools," for further resources.

Try to include individuals in these teams who can represent the end-user's perspective , whether they are technical staff or end users with the necessary skill set. A successful deployment of Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 requires constant attention to the end-user's perspective on the process and the final desktop environment.

Be careful not to overload team members with the new assignments associated with the deployment. Remember that their existing assignments will generally continue while they are working on the deployment, and this must be factored into the planning process. Be sure to schedule extra time to handle unforeseen difficulties, expanded scope, or other sources of delay. Also, meet with the managers of the team members to ensure that the resources will be available when needed. A tool such as Microsoft Project can be used to track both the project plan and the staffing plans for this effort.

Once the staffing plan is complete and approved, this information must be communicated to all involved parties, especially the managers of the team members. These managers must be fully aware of the time allocations that affect their departments. While communicating resource assignments, obtain the commitment of these managers for these individuals to be available when called for in the staffing plan.

Staff Training

Because Windows 95 is new to your environment, and especially if SMS is also a new tool set for the organization, staff resources might need new technical skills to complete this project.

Windows 95 TrainCast instructional videotapes are available from Microsoft (to obtain these, call 800-597-3200). For more extensive training, team members can receive instruction at a Microsoft Authorized Technical Education Center. Call 800-SOLPROV (that is, 800-765-7768) for information about authorized training classes or for a referral to a local Microsoft Solution Provider Authorized Technical Education Center (ATEC).

The following table lists available courses (and the duration of the training) that are recommended for the technologies involved.

Course

Duration

Supporting Microsoft Systems Management Server

5 days

System Administration for Microsoft SQL Server on NT

5 days

Support Fundamentals for Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51

5 days

Supporting Windows 95

5 days

Migrating to Windows 95 Using Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.1

2 days

By reviewing specific portions of the Windows 95 Resource Kit and Office for Windows 95 Resource Kit, the teams can gain an extensive understanding of the features and functionality these products offer.

Step 3: Defining the Preferred Client Configuration

Once the high-level planning and team staffing is accomplished, the planning team must decide on the client configuration that best suits your organization, and whether to install Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 simultaneously or separately.

Setting up the lab and defining the preferred client configuration are concurrent tasks. The process of setting up the lab, along with input from the team members, will help clarify which features are most useful to your computing environment. You will need at least a preliminary definition of the preferred configuration to set up the lab.

Define Ideal Client Configurations

The first step to determining the preferred client configurations is to decide what is the "ideal" configuration for your organization. This ideal configuration serves as a baseline. The preferred configuration is likely to vary for different groups of users. For example, the ideal configuration might use the peer resource sharing capability of Windows 95, but for some groups you might prefer not to use this feature. Or, certain network protocols, drivers, or application software might be part of your desired configuration, with variations for specific groups or specific hardware.

The Windows 95 Resource Kit and Office for Windows 95 Resource Kit are excellent sources of further information to help you choose your ideal and preferred configurations.

Using Setup Scripts to Install Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95

Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 allow the use of special information files (.INF files for Windows 95 and .STF files for Office for Windows 95) that can specify most custom settings. Sample files in the required format are supplied with this guide and can be edited with any text editor. The format and parameters for .INF files are described in the Windows 95 Resource Kit in Chapter 5, "Custom, Automated, and Push Installations," and Appendix D, "MSBATCH.INF Parameters."

Systems Management Server (SMS) is able to use these information files for automated installations of the software. The .INF and .STF files can be used by SMS to automate the installation of Windows 95 and Office for Windows 95 on target workstations. They are included in the command line definitions for particular SMS packages. For instance, the command lines in Windows 95 give the user of a target computer different installation options such as typical, compact, complete, and custom. The package's command line definitions can be created manually by the SMS administrator, or they can be automatically created by using a Package Definition File (.PDF). A .PDF file is a text file that contains all the required SMS package information, including the command line definitions. A package to deliver source files to a site server can use the compressed .CAB file to minimize traffic across links.

For example, if the SMS administrator wants to set up the "Windows 95 Package" definition, the administrator opens a new Package Properties window and uses the Import feature to import the WIN95.PDF file that is included with this guide. This file then populates the Package Properties window with the required information, including command line definitions, for installing Windows 95. The administrator needs only to enter the path information to Windows 95 source files on a network server, and the package definition is complete. This completed package can be used to create an SMS job that installs Windows 95 on the target computers.

Define Client Configurations: Windows 95

Chapter 1, "Deployment Planning Basics," in the Windows 95 Resource Kit, provides information on factors to consider in defining your ideal and preferred client configurations for Windows 95.

Define Ideal Client Configurations: Office for Windows 95

The following tasks must be performed to define the ideal configuration of Office for Windows 95 for your organization:

  • Research current configuration variables.

  • Select Office for Windows 95 standard features.

  • Select Office for Windows 95 workgroup features.

  • Decide on configuration and installation options.

These are described in more detail in the following sections.

Research Current Configuration Variables

Catalog your current network and client system configurations for the following:

  • Hardware configuration

  • Network topology

  • Existing configurations to migrate

  • Multiple platforms

  • IS department policies

Select Office Standard for Windows 95 Features

Review the Microsoft Office for Windows 95 feature set and decide which components to install on the clients. See the Microsoft Office for Windows 95 Evaluation Guide for more information.

Select Office Workgroup Features

Decide which special Office for Windows 95 features to install for the client. Your configuration might include any of the following:

  • Group scheduling with Schedule+

  • Using Word as your e-mail editor

  • Workgroup templates

  • "Sendmail" and routing features of MAPI and VIM

  • Windows 95 Briefcase support, especially for Microsoft Office Binders and Microsoft Access databases

Decide on Configuration and Installation Options

Decide on the following configuration options:

  • Location of Office for Windows 95 files

  • Installation options

  • Installation media

  • Installation method

See the Microsoft Office for Windows 95 Resource Kit, Chapter 9, "The Installation Process," for more information.

Migrating Existing Configurations

Before upgrading, analyze the software that users are currently using and address the following questions:

  • Which existing files, macros, and custom programs will need to be used in the new software?

  • What, if any, extra steps be required to use the existing files and macros in Office for Windows 95?

  • What is the user knowledge base, and what steps need to be taken for users to be proficient in Office for Windows 95?

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