Kiwibank happy with complete Vista upgrade

Toned-down Vista delivers platform for future

Kiwibank has completed a rollout of Windows Vista across 1,000 desktops, creating a consistent desktop image for the organisation and deploying new management tools to support future applications.

Given Kiwibank was only founded in 2002, it’s remarkable how quickly it has run into issues of managing legacy operating systems and applications.

“It’s very easy to drop into a legacy situation,” says Kiwibank’s chief technology officer Bohdan Szymanik. “It’s a lesson to us all.”

“You have to keep yourself in a position where you are always progressing. You don’t want to be a leader — or fall too far behind.”

For Kiwibank, systems had slowly diverged, with some machines running Windows 2000, which lacks the management tools the bank feels it needs and which Vista offers.

“It was a classic problem of the desktop image being slightly different across machines on the network,” Szymanik says. That became an issue when applications were being rolled out and they would work on some machines and not on others, increasing management time and complexity.

“We wanted a consistent image and good management tools to keep the image consistent,” Szymanik says.

Vista offered that, and also better support for .Net 3.0 Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation, XAML and Windows Communication Foundation.

“We’ve built a lot of apps that rely on .Net. Having Vista in place means they work out of the box. With XP you need to download extras,” Szymanik explains.

The rollout has allowed Kiwibank to deploy a couple more applications. It is also deploying Microsoft’s Sharepoint.

“Knowing everyone is on Internet Explorer 7 [which comes with Vista] is a great help in making that successful,” Szymanik says. The move will also support a future move to IE8.

He say Kiwibank now has a good, easily manageable platform for such deployments and has prepared the company for a rollout of Windows 7.

“We’re very practised at deployment.”

“There’s a lot of information out there about how difficult it is. We rolled it out with three full-time staff and two contractors,” says Kirk Fitzpatrick, Kiwibank’s Vista project manager.

About a third of the bank’s PC and laptop fleet had to be upgraded, but this was scheduled anyway and the OS runs on some fairly low-specced machines, he says. That’s because a lot of the glossy parts of Vista’s interface and some other functions are switched off rather than applied out of the box switched on.

Szymanik says it’s interesting to install Windows Server 2008 on a PC and see how it performs with none of the Vista graphics features turned on and then gradually turn them on.

“Performance goes down and down,” he says.

The user interface for Kiwibank’s Vista deployment, in fact, looks a lot like Windows 2000, and it’s “quite fast”. The end result is the bank gets the platform and tools it needs, while user impact is minimised.

Szymanik says deploying Office 2007 is likely to impact more on users. The Vista rollout has set the platform for that, but it has not yet started. Szymanik says as more and more staff use Office 2008 at home, they will increasingly welcome it at work.

Kirkpatrick says a range of tools were used during the project, including Windows Deployment Services (WDS), to start the boot image deployment of Windows; Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), for network deployment of the OS; System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), for network deployment of applications; Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), for network deployment of updates, and; Forefront for antivirus on PCs and laptops.

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