Following the recent revelation that AIB’s branch network has moved to a widespread adoption of Linux on the desktop, Microsoft is fighting back with the news that Irish Life and Permanent (IL&P) is to migrate more than 3,000 employees to the latest versions of its software.
The deal will see the migration of some 5,000 desktops, 400 laptops, 500 servers and 6,000 mailboxes within the organisation. In addition the entire IL&P IT infrastructure has been migrated to the latest version of Microsoft server management software including Windows Server 2003, Active Directory and Exchange Server 2003.
With the help of Microsoft’s services organisation and using the migration tools from Microsoft’s partner, Quest, the company has centralised its entire, fragmented network from over 20 Windows NT 4 Servers to three Microsoft Windows Server 2003 reducing maintenance required and increasing the efficiency of the system.
The phased project also saw the migration of 6,000 mailboxes from Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and the installation of Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, which allows a central service desk to take control of laptops around the country for assistance on issues such as configuration and maintenance. SMS will also be used for software distribution such as updates and virus patching. In addition to new improved security, Microsoft Exchange Server is intended to facilitate better workflow processing with colour coding of emails.
Windows XP enhances security and allows for remote changing of laptop passwords and enforcement of password changes on a scheduled basis. Previously remote workers had to physically return their laptops to head office for these changes. The use of Active Directory now permits the roll out of any number of additional security controls in a simple and easy manner.
Commenting on the need to upgrade the Group’s IT systems, Stephen Reynolds, business services, Group IT, Irish Life & Permanent said: “Through utilising the benefits that the latest software offers, we have been able to drive greater efficiency and productivity within the core IT staff and also to the wider group of technology users. This leaves greater scope for staff to engage in higher value activities with the technology acting as a facilitator.”
Maurice Martin, business and marketing officer, Microsoft Ireland, described the deal as “a great win” for the software firm and one that highlighted the benefits of upgrading to the latest software versions. Many Irish companies, he said, mistakenly see an upgrade investment in cost terms alone rather than in terms of how it can deliver business benefits such as increased productivity and customer satisfaction or reduced management overheads.
By Brian Skelly