Friday, April 09, 2010

Coming Up To Speed On Zero Downtime

We've been getting some questions on ZDTM - Zero Downtime Migrations. The questions generally fall into three categories.

1) How fast can I come up to speed (get value) out of the big book?

2) How does our method differ from . . . Microsoft's SBS 2008 Migration technique or Jeff Middleton's Swing Migration process?

3) How will I get $250 of value out of this product? Seems like a lot of money.

[Note about Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: We love these technologies, but they're not well suited to answering these questions. If you post a question there, you'll be directed to email ( or our ZDTM web site (]

Steven sent me a DM on Twitter:

"Is it possible to get the ZDM book, absorb it, and do a migration in a month? I have done Swings before. Poised on the buy button."

Well, the answer is a resounding . . . Maybe.

Yes you can learn Zero Downtime Migration strategies in short order. Mastering it will take a few migrations. The more you already know about all the pieces (Active Directory, email, SQL, DNS, DHCP, etc.) the faster you'll learn. We assume you know everything you need to know.

We provide a description of the process and an approach to creating a zero downtime experience. After that we provide a detailed (220 page) checklist. You cross off the irrelevant pages, fill in the relevant ones, decide how to accomplish each element in ZDT, and then proceed.

If you're sharp (and I assume you are if you've done a Swing migration), then you can absolutely learn this in a month. If you're very hesitant about the limits of your knowledge, then you'll need more time.

We do not introduce any new technical information here. Essentially, we give you a framework for making your project work, and a big checklist that you need to customize for your purposes. In the big, big picture, we work hard to make sure you don't run into any "unknowns" or mysteries in the middle of the project.

Here's our money back guarantee: Even if you don't learn to carry off an amazing zero downtime migration in a month, you'll still save enough time with our checklists and techniques to pay for the book - or we'll give you your money back. We have one section (resources) that we were offered $100 for at last year's Autotask preday - five months before the rest of the book was ready. We feel very confident that you'll find value here.

For anyone who understands each of the components being migrated, the checklist is pretty clear.

For those who do not, it will serve as a great training tool to help understand those components. As always, we recommend you run through these things on a test bed at least once. When you do you will find that because we use no special tools or tricks the procedures are highly flexible and robust.


vs. Microsoft Process or Swing Migration:

First, you need to understand that our book covers every aspect of the migration process. This includes defining the project, treating it as a project, quoting the project, creating the service requests, managing the project, managing employees, managing third party vendors, managing client expectations, keeping the project in scope and profitable, AND the more mundane elements of moving the data, migrating Exchange, migrating SQL, migrating desktops, migrating profiles, etc.

Microsoft's process deals with a few key pieces of this, but is not intended to help you with the first ten items listed above. And for many of the others, their instructions are pretty sparse ("Okay. Now go migrate active directory.") In addition, Microsoft's process has two serious disadvantages.

1) It guarantees downtime. There is a point at which you have crippled the old system and not yet transferred the FISMO, AD, and Exchange to the new system. Everything is down.

2) There is no way to tell how long you will be offline or where you are in the process. Exchange migration gives you a blank screen with no indication of progress. You just have to believe that it's working.

Swing Migration (see and Jeff's toolkit give you a lot of very powerful tools for cleaning up and transferring the A.D. and FISMO roles. It is extremely well documented and, unlike the Microsoft method, you will never be lost. But, again, Jeff's toolkit is not intended to address most of the items listed above. He's not guiding you through the project as project. He's providing tools to accomplish a specific piece of that process.

Note: There is nothing inconsistent between our method and Jeff's. Part of our process is to determine how you will accomplish ZDT (zero downtime) for each piece of the migration. At a few key points you may choose to use Jeff's tools.

That's not true with the Microsoft method. While we explicitly use Microsoft tools to make the migration go smoothly, we do not use or endorse the Microsoft Migration process. It is incomplete, guarantees downtime, and violates the Prime Directive of Migrations: It leaves no way to go back in case something goes wrong.

Of course you can overcome this by creating an image before you start. But the overall process is unappealing to us. Swing and our ZDTM method both allow you to minimize downtime and never leave you "out of business" no matter what goes wrong.


I'm totally biased, of course. But we see this as more than a book. In addition to the checklists and training, we see this as a process you can use to make money. We thought about calling it a "kit" and charging a lot more. Preliminary market research showed that that appealed to larger companies and not the S part of the SMB consulting market. So we settled on a price that represents 2-3 hours of labor (depending on what you charge).

Even if you never attempt a Zero Downtime Migration, you will save 2-3 hours labor on the first migration project you do. Why? Because we have checklists and templates and resource guides for everything. We provide PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets to help with quoting and client education.

This really is a massive resource guide for Network Migrations.

Even if you choose to use the Microsoft method, we think you'll find our 220-page checklist useful in making sure you consider all the factors in your migration process.

For a table of contents, see

For user testimonials, see

The following blog posts cover a great deal more information about the book, how it's organized, and why you need it right now:

SBS Migration Strategies Part One - Literally (chapters 1-2 on Migrating the Windows Environment and Project Management)

SBS Migration Book Part Two (chapters 3-4 on Migration Project Overview and Quoting the Migration Project)

The "Guts" of the Network Migration Workbook (chapters 5-6 on The Checklist Explained and Migration Strategies)

Migration to SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 (on case studies and appendices)

Now, do yourself a favor and just buy a copy right now! You won't be disappointed.

Buy Now - Only $249.95

More info at

I'll be happy to try to answer questions here. Technical questions may be referred to


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