Windows Server 2008 : The Migration Planning Phase - Documenting the Process for Migration

1/15/2011 3:52:53 PM
Before the migration document is created, the end state of the project has been documented in detail and agreed upon by the key stakeholders in the organization. There should not be any question as to exactly what the next evolution of the network will be composed of and what functionality it will offer. In addition, an estimated budget for the hardware and software required and an estimated timeline for the project have been identified. In some cases, depending on the size and complexity of the project, and whether outside consulting assistance has been contracted, a budget has also been established for the implementation services.

So, now that the end state has been clearly defined, the migration document can be created to document the details of the steps required to reach the end state with minimal risk of negative impact to the network environment.

The migration plan should not contain any major surprises.

A key component of the migration document is the project plan, or migration plan, that provides a list of the tasks required to implement the solution. It is the road map from which the migration document will be created. The migration document will also provide a narrative, where needed, of the specifics of the tasks that the project plan does not provide, and provide other details as outlined next.

Time for the Project Plan

As mentioned previously, the primary stepping stones needed to reach the end point have been sketched out in the discovery process, and in collaboration sessions or design discussions that have taken place. The project plan in the migration document provides a tool to complement the design document, which graphically illustrates the process of building and testing the technologies required as well as provides an outline of who is doing what during the project.

By using a product such as Microsoft Project, you can organize the steps in a logical, linear process. The high-level tasks should be established first. Typically, they are the phases or high-level tasks involved in the project, such as lab testing, pilot implementation, production implementation, and support. Then, the main components of these tasks can be filled in.

Dates and durations should be included in the project plan, using the basic concept of starting with the end date when everything needs to be up and running, and then working backward. It’s important to include key milestones, such as acquiring new software and hardware, sending administrative resources to training classes, and provisioning new data circuits. Slack time should also be included for unexpected events or stumbling blocks that might be encountered. Each phase of the project needs to be outlined and then expanded.

A good rule of thumb is not to try to list every task that needs to take place during the phase, but to have each line represent several hours or days of work. If too much detail is put into the project plan, it quickly becomes unmanageable. For the detailed information that does not necessarily need to be placed in the project plan (Gantt chart), the information can be detailed in the migration document. The migration document adds in technical and operational details that will help clarify more specific project information.


The terms project plan and Gantt chart are commonly interchanged in IT organizations and might have different meanings to different individuals. In this book, the term project plan refers to the chronological steps needed to successfully plan, prepare, and implement Windows Server 2008 R2. The term Gantt chart is used to refer to the chronological steps, but also the inclusion of resource allocation, start and end dates, and cost distribution.

The plan should also assign resources to the tasks and start to define the teams that will work on the different components of the project. If an outside organization is going to assist in the process, it should be included at the appropriate points in the project. Microsoft Project offers an additional wealth of features to produce reports and graphical information from this plan; they will prove extremely helpful when the work starts. Also, accurate budgetary information can be extracted, which can take into account overtime and after-hours rates and easily give what-if scenario information.

Speed Versus Risk

The project plan will also enable you to test what-if scenarios. When the high-level tasks are defined, and the resources required to complete each task are also defined, you can easily plug in external contractors to certain tasks and see how the costs change. After-hours work might take place during working hours in certain places.

If the timeline still isn’t acceptable, tasks can be stacked so that multiple tasks occur at the same time, instead of one after the other. Microsoft Project also offers extensive tools for resource leveling to make sure that you haven’t accidentally committed a resource to, for example, 20 hours of work in 1 day.

The critical path of the project should be defined as well. Certain key events will need to take place for the project to proceed beyond a certain point. Ordering the hardware and having it arrive will be one of these steps. Getting stakeholder approval on the lab environment and proving that key network applications can be supported might be another. Administrative and end-user training might need to happen to ensure that the resulting environment can be effectively supported.

You might need to build contingency time into the project plan as well. Hardware can get delayed and take an extra week or two to arrive. Testing can take longer, especially with complex configurations and when customization of the NOS is required or directory information needs to be modified.

Creating the Migration Document

The migration document can now narrate the process detailed in the project plan. The project plan does not need to be 100% complete, but the order of the steps and the strategies for testing and implementing will be identified. Typically, the migration document is similar to the structure of the design document (a reason why many organizations combine the two documents), but the design document relates the design decisions made and details the end state of the upgrade, whereas the migration document details the process and steps to be taken.

The following is a sample table of contents for the migration document:

  • Executive Summary

  • Goals and Objectives of the Migration Process

  • Background

  • Risks and Assumptions

  • Roles and Responsibilities

  • Timeline and Milestones

  • Training Plan

  • Migration Process

    • Hardware and Software Procurement Process

    • Prototype Proof of Concept Process

    • Server Configuration and Testing

    • Desktop Configuration and Testing

    • Documentation Required from Prototype

    • Pilot Phase(s) Detailed

    • Migration/Upgrade Detailed

    • Support Phase Detailed

    • Support Documentation Detailed

  • Budget Estimate

    • Labor Costs for Prototype Phase

    • Labor Costs for Pilot Phase

    • Labor Costs for Migration/Upgrade Phase

    • Labor Costs for Support Phase

    • Costs for Training

  • Project Schedule

The Executive Summary Section

The executive summary should set the stage and prepare the audience for what the document will contain, and it should be concise. It should outline, at the highest level, what the scope of the work is. Ideally, the executive summary also positions the document in the decision-making process and clarifies that approvals of the design are required to move forward.

The Goals and Objectives Section

The goals and objectives section might seem redundant because the design documents documented the objectives in great detail, but it is important to consider which specific goals and objectives are important to the success of the migration project that might not have been included in the design document. For example, although the design document outlined what the final server configuration will look like, it might not have outlined the tools needed to migrate key user data or the order that the company offices will be migrated. So, the goals and objectives in the migration document will be very process specific.

The Background Section

A summary of the migration-specific decisions should be provided to answer questions such as “Why are we doing it that way?” because there is always a variety of ways to implement new messaging technologies, such as using built-in tools as opposed to using third-party tools. Because a number of conversations will have taken place during the planning phase to compare the merits of one method versus another, it is worth summarizing them early in the document for anyone who wasn’t involved in those conversations.

The Risks and Assumptions Section

Risks pertaining to the phases of the migration should be detailed, and typically are more specific than in the design document. For example, a risk of the prototype phase might be that the hardware available won’t perform adequately and needs to be upgraded. Faxing, virus protection, or backup software might not meet the requirements of the design document and, thus, need upgrading. Custom-designed messaging applications or Windows add-ons might turn out not to be Windows Server 2008 R2 compatible.

The Roles and Responsibilities Section

In the roles and responsibilities section, the teams that will do the work should be identified in detail. If an outside company will be performing portions of the work, which tasks it will be responsible for and which ones internal resources will take ownership of should be documented.

The Timeline and Milestones Section

Specific target dates can be listed, and should be available directly from the project schedule already created. This summary can be very helpful to executives and managers, whereas the Gantt chart contains too much information. Constraints that were identified in the discovery process need to be kept in mind here because there might be important dates (such as the end of the fiscal year), seasonal demands on the company that black out certain date ranges, and key company events or holidays. Again, be aware of other large projects going on in your environment that might impact your timeline. There’s no point trying to deploy new servers on the same weekend that the data center will be powered off for facility upgrades.

The Training Plan Section

It is useful during the planning of any upgrade to examine the skill sets of the people who will be performing the upgrade and managing the new environment to see if there are any gaps that need to be filled with training. Often, training will happen during the prototype testing process in a hands-on fashion for the project team with the alternate choice being classroom-style training, often provided by an outside company. Also ask yourself if the end users will require training to use new client-side tools. Also pay attention to how the new environment will integrate into existing systems such as backup or monitoring. Determine if those groups will need any training specific to interacting with Windows Server 2008 R2 components.

The Migration Process Section

The project schedule Gantt chart line items should be included and expanded upon so that it is clear to the resources doing the work what is expected of them. The information does not need to be on the level of step-by-step instructions, but it should clarify the process and results expected from each task. For example, the Gantt chart might indicate that a Windows Server 2008 R2 server needs to be configured, and in the migration document, information would be added about which server roles need to be installed, how the hard drives are to be configured, and which additional applications (virus protection, tape backup, faxing, network management) need to be installed.

If the Gantt chart lists a task of, for example, “Configure and test Windows client access,” the migration document gives a similar level of detail: Which image should be used to configure the base workstation configuration, which additional applications and version of Windows should be loaded, how is the workstation to be locked down, and what testing process should be followed (is it scripted or will an end user from the department do the testing)?

Documentation also should be described in more detail. The Gantt chart might simply list “Create as built documents,” with as built defined as “document containing key server configuration information and screenshots so that a knowledgeable resource can rebuild the system from scratch.”

Sign-off conditions for the prototype phase are important and should be included. Who needs to sign off on the results of the prototype phase to indicate that the goals were all met and that the design agreed upon is ready to be created in the production environment?

Similar levels of information are included for the pilot phase and the all-important migration itself. Typically during the pilot phase, all the upgraded functionality needs to be tested, including remote access, file encryption access, and access to shared folders. Be aware that pilot testing might require external coordination. For example, if you are testing remote access through a VPN connection, you might need to acquire an additional external IP address and arrange to have an address record created in DNS to allow your external testers to reach it without having to disturb your existing remote access systems.

The migration plan should also account for support tasks that need to occur after the Windows Server 2008 R2 infrastructure is fully in place. If you are using an outside consulting firm for assistance in the design and implementation, you should make sure that they will leave staff onsite for a period of time immediately after the upgrade to be available to support user issues or to troubleshoot any technical issues that crop up.

If documentation is specified as part of the support phase, such as Windows maintenance documents, disaster recovery plans, or procedural guides, expectations for these documents should be included to help the technical writers make sure the documents are satisfactory.

The Budget Section

With regard to the budget information, although a great amount of thought and planning has gone into the design and migration documents, as well as the project plan, there are still variables. No matter how detailed these documents are, the later phases of the project might change based on the results of the earlier phases. For instance, the prototype testing might go flawlessly, but during the pilot implementation, performing data migration simply takes longer than anticipated; this extra time will require modifications to the amount of time required and the associated costs. Note that changes in the opposite direction can happen as well, if tasks can occur more quickly than anticipated. Often, the implementation costs can be reduced by keeping an eye on ways to improve the process during the prototype and pilot phases.

The Project Schedule Section

Whereas the project plan provides the high-level details of the steps, or tasks, required in each phase, the approach sections of the migration document can go into more detail about the details of each step of the project plan, as needed. Certain very complex tasks are represented with one line on the project plan, such as “Configure Windows Server 2008 R2 #1” and might take several pages to describe in sufficient detail in the migration document.

Data availability testing and disaster recovery testing should be discussed. In the design document, you might have decided that clustering will be used, as well as a particular tape backup program, but the migration plan should outline exactly which scenarios should be tested in the prototype lab environment.

Documents to be provided during the migration should be defined so that it is clear what they will contain.

  •  Windows Server 2008 : The Design Phase - Documenting the Vision and the Plan
  •  Windows Server 2008 : The Discovery Phase - Understanding the Existing Environment
  •  Identifying the Technical Goals and Objectives to Implement Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Working with Windows 7
  •  Installing and Using Windows 7
  •  Improvements in Server Roles in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Windows Server 2008: Improvements for Thin Client Remote Desktop Services
  •  Improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 for Better Branch Office Support
  •  Improvements in Mobile Computing in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Windows Server 2008 R2 Benefits for Administration
  •  Visual Studio 2010 : Understanding Solutions and Projects (part 3)
  •  Visual Studio 2010 : Understanding Solutions and Projects (part 2)
  •  Visual Studio 2010 : Understanding Solutions and Projects (part 1)
  •  Becoming an Excel Programmer : Macros and Security
  •  Becoming an Excel Programmer : Where's My Code?
  •  Becoming an Excel Programmer : View Results
  •  Becoming an Excel Programmer : Start and Stop
  •  Windows Server 2008 : Configuring and Monitoring Terminal Service Resources
  •  Visual Studio 2010 : Understanding Debugging
  •  Visual Studio 2010 : Structured Exception Handling to the Rescue
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