The migration path to Windows 7 has an increasingly willing shepherd, provided a large enough herd. Dell's Kace unit on Wednesday announced a new version of its K2000 appliance product, with several new features geared toward moving organizations from their current system to the latest Microsoft operating system.
The release, which will go live Friday, includes policy-based capabilities, allowing IT managers to set and enforce rules for migration. For example, particular users or file types can be excluded during migration. It also enables managers to move user data and update the OS without running the old software, and automates hardware driver checks and downloads.
Dell Kace's target market is midsize firms that lack a dedicated systems manager or team, and instead add that responsibility to the long list of duties for an IT generalist.
"We call it the wearing-many-hats complex," said Wynn White, VP of marketing for Dell Kace. The company's definition of the midsize market is decidedly broad, ranging between 100 and 10,000 nodes.
To be clear, Kace was already servicing Windows 7 migrations, and that is not all their appliances do. But the company said that the K2000 enhancements in version 3.3 were driven largely by the Windows 7 shift.
Steve Brasen, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, agreed: "When you look at the new features, they really revolve around Windows 7 migration," he said.
Kace's own research shows widespread Windows 7 interest among IT managers: 87% of IT professionals it surveyed in January said they planned to deploy the OS. A similar survey in October found that 85% plan to implement Office 2010.
"I think there's very little resistance in the marketplace to adoption," White said. He attributed that in part to the large number of firms that skipped Vista and are facing the end of XP's support lifecycle in 2014. "Unless you want to be on an unsupported OS, you need to act now."
Kace offers two pricing options: $4,500 for 100 seats or $39,000 per appliance. The latter only makes sense for large enterprises. For smaller firms, even the 100-seat price tag may be worth shopping around.