Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Swing Migration vs. Zero Downtime Migration

With the announcement of the new book - The Network Migration Workbook - a number of people have asked "How does this compare to Jeff Middleton's Swing Migration?" (See www.sbsmigration.com.)

Hmmm. I guess I'd start by looking at the last several posts on the table of contents for our new book. But let's go ahead and answer the question.

I invite Jeff to add his comments here or elsewhere.

Essentially, the Swing Migration process is intended to move the "identity" of the server to new hardware without letting the desktop know that anything is changed. Users, machines, ACLs, SIDs, etc.

Swing Migrations are great. They take the labor "offsite" while the old server keeps chugging along. You build up the new server at your office and then just switch servers on the day of migration.

"Upgrade" migrations are lot easier with the Swing toolset because you don't have to recreate all that stuff.

So, Swing Migrations are awesome.

But as one person commented in an email to me, Jeff doesn't cover the project as a project. We provide a great deal of information to cover designing, quoting, and running the migration project.

We provide guidance regarding tools -- in fact we explicitly endorse Jeff's Swing Migration process. But in the end Jeff's toolset addresses only part of the migration process.

One of our key goals in any migration is to take this once-every-three-years opportunity to clean up the network, put data where it belongs, clean up profiles, get rid of messy group policy and active directory crap. Jeff's process does a lot of that. We do a lot more.

We provide detailed guidance on every aspect of the migration process. And we do so in a manner so you can pull out sections and run processes in isolation from "the big" migration.

And we put a huge emphasis on doing this all with zero downtime. So, for example, if you want to upgrade the SharePoint services or a line of business application, we've got the procedures for you.

Jeff and I had a phone conversation a few weeks ago that provides a great illustration of the differences in our approaches to Active Directory migration.

Let's say you have a client with a messed up server: users have been renamed; users have been added and removed without the wizards; machines have been added without the wizards; there are ghosted machines on the network; group policies are totally messed up. And so forth. I'm sure you've seen it.

Jeff summed it up this way:

- We are not afraid of re-creating ten users and ten machines by hand.

- Jeff's not afraid of digging in and cleaning up Active Directory.

There a trade-off in all things. As we say in the book, with 50 users, you don't want to re-create everything by hand. And with five users it's faster to simply type in the names than to spend time cleaning up A.D.

What Jeff Doesn't Cover

If you review the Table of Contents (See this site to download Table of Contents and chapter samples), you'll see that moving users and PCs is only one piece of the puzzle. It's a big, important piece, but just one piece.

When we migrate a network we want to end up with a new, clean, beautiful, perfect network on the latest version of every application. Jeff's Swing Migration doesn't do that.

We address everything from opening the server and re-seating the memory chips to creating perfect documentation when you're done. In the middle we clean up everything we touch, including user profiles.

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In the end, "Migration" is not just about Active Directory. It's about
  • Email / Exchange (and moving across versions)
  • SharePoint (and moving across versions)
  • SQL (and moving across versions)
  • Line of Business Applications (with possible version updates
  • Data transfers and cleanup
  • Profile migration and cleanup
  • Accounting Packages (with possible version updates)
  • Business Contact Management / CRM migration
  • Blackberry Server move
  • Moving Encryption keys
  • Installing Anti-Virus
  • Recofiguring everything that touches or relies on the server (e.g., routers, firewalls, phones, printers, scanners)
  • Patch management systems
  • Backup systems (perhaps a new type)
  • IIS and web sites
  • ETC.
We love Jeff's Swing Migration toolset and we encourage you to buy it. Just remember that it addresses a specific piece of the migration process. You'll also need a handy dandy big book of migrations. That's where we come in. Please feel free to post questions and comments. :-)

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Update November 2011: See an updated article on this on my blog: Comparing Swing Migration and Zero Downtime Migration

- - - -

The Network Migration Workbook is now available
at $50 off

Save today.

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