Determining if your environment is Windows 7 ready can be quite a challenge, depending on the number of computers and locations you manage. Microsoft has created a tool, the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit version 4.0, to help organizations determine what is needed to move their environments forward, not only for Windows 7 but also to other Microsoft products.
The MAP toolkit is available from Microsoft as a free download. Visit http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=111000 to download the application.
What does the MAP toolkit do?
Once you install it in your environment, MAP takes an inventory of the systems found on the network and uses templates of recommended settings to determine if the systems inventoried will meet the requirements for the application you are working to deploy. Upon starting the MAP toolkit, you will need to create a database to store inventory information or use an existing database.Note: During installation you will have the option to download SQL Express to store the data captured during inventory. There are two categories of assessment available in MAP, Discovery and Readiness or Server Consolidation. All the information available is contained in one of these categories. Since I will be focusing on Windows 7 in this post, I will select the Discovery and Readiness category in the utilities left pane, as shown in Figure A.
Select the items you wish to review.Once I have highlighted the category, the right pane of the MAP window will display the various reports that can be generated with collected data. To begin the discovery process, click the link labeled Inventory and Assessment Wizard to start the process of inventorying your environment (Figure B).
Start the Inventory and Assessment Wizard.
The first thing you will be asked by the wizard pertains to discovering machines within your environment. Should the wizard use Active Directory, import a list, use a range of IP addresses, or accept manual computer name entry? The wizard allows you to choose the best method for your organization.
Once you have selected the discovery method, click Next.Depending on the discovery method you selected, the wizard will prompt you for more information. Because I am in an Active Directory environment, Figure C shows a screen prompting for Active Directory Credentials to allow access to information about the objects in my organization. Had I selected Importing from a List, I would have been asked to provide the list location, as shown in Figure D. Note: You can combine methods of collecting information, for example, using Active Directory and an Imported List if needed.
Provide credentials for your Active Directory domain.
When selecting pieces on the discovery options page described above, you can select to use Windows Networking protocols for the inventory scan. If your environment includes Windows NT 4.0 domains or workgroups, select this option to ensure these items get included in inventory. If you are not running Windows NT 4.0, you do not need to select this option.
Specify the path to a list of computers to import.
When using Active Directory, you will need to specify options for the scan. You can choose to have the entire domain inventoried or specify certain Organizational Units (OU). This can be useful if you are planning to deploy an application to a test group of computers. Running the inventory only on the computers needed will save time.When adding accounts for WMI authentication, you can use the same account that was used above for Active Directory. You can also specify, as shown in Figure E, whether this account is used on All Computers (selected by default) or if it should be used only on a Select Computer. Multiple accounts can be added to this screen.
Set up WMI Credentials to allow the MAP toolkit to access machine data.
After you have saved the WMI Credentials and clicked Next, a summary of the options chosen will be displayed to ensure that nothing was missed. Once you are satisfied with the settings chosen, click Finish to allow the MAP utility to scan your environment.
Systems inventoried... what next?While the inventory is performed, which can take a while depending on the size of your environment and the settings you selected for scanning computers, a dialog box will appear to show you how the scan is progressing (Figure F).
This shows the progress during the inventory scan.
Now that the scanning of systems in your environment has completed, you can review the templates within the MAP toolkit to determine what your next move should be.
Expand the Discovery and Readiness category in the left pane of the MAP window. Here you will see a list of the readiness or discovery options that your inventoried network can tell you about. Selecting one of these options will filter your information and display a summary and detailed information, helping you to determine the true readiness for a given product.
Management in most organizations likes to see things in a proposal format, outlining the needed resources and steps necessary to complete a project before the project gets going. This helps them to work with you to determine a useful budget and project guidelines so that all parties know what to expect as things move forward.
Many of the IT professionals I know are not in the camp of preparing documentation and proposals; fortunately, the MAP toolkit is quite good at generating reports and proposals based on the assessment you are running.
As part of the review process of the toolkits findings, you can set properties for the assessment that allow custom processor, memory, and disk space to be configured or the Microsoft-provided default settings to be used. I would recommend the Microsoft-provided settings unless you know of areas where your environment needs special configuration considerations. In the right pane of the window, select Set Assessment Properties to access these items and click Run Assessment when you are finished changing items in order to re-run the assessment with your modifications.
To generate proposals and other documentation, click the Generate Report/Proposal in the right pane of the window. This will create a Microsoft Excel workbook to help show your work in the discovery phase and a high-level overview and proposal in Word for you to present to management.
The Assessment and Planning tool does all the paperwork of proposal generation for you and helps you move in the direction you need. It has pointed out some areas in my environment that will need polishing before I can charge on to Windows 7, but finding these areas could not have been easier. If only Microsoft would come up with a budgeting application that produced room for new IT purchases, I would be all set.
Don't forget, you can keep up with the MAP toolkit team on Facebook and Twitter.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.