Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 3.1 Beta

Over my years as an IT consultant, it’s become clear that assessing a client’s infrastructure and systems is a time-consuming and tedious task. And, horror of horrors, what do you do if the client is not running any systems management software (read: SMS/SCCM, please!)? Well, you hunker down for some challenging work, and you pray that the IT staff will be responsive and already have some reliable data for you. It has also become clear, over my years, that this is often not the case.

If you are planning a Vista migration, or a desktop optimization, or hardware refresh, or are upgrading to Office 2007, or wanting to deploy an AppVirt solution, how do you decide if the environment is ready?

Well, from a MS POV, they have done a pretty darned good job of releasing tools to help: The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT), the Vista Hardware Assessment tool, the Office Migration Planning Manager, etc. But these tools were always somewhat flawed: they didn’t work together, many deployed agents (which clients really, really hate if you do without telling them!) etc.

Our fantastic friends at Getronics in the Netherlands put together an awesome tool, called MOVE (Migration to Office Vista and Exchange) intended to help our consultants combine a number of Microsoft assessment tools (ACT, VHA, OMPM, etc.) into one system, and provide a unified report with easily understood charts and tables that could not only benefit IT folks, but was readable and “talked the talk” of Business Decision Makers.

MOVE is a great product, and adds real value to these disparate tools. However, from a deployment and client-friendlines POV, it is only as good as the MS Tools it aggregates and controls. For example, the agents are still there (I’m looking at you, ACT 5.0!)

We’ve used the MOVE tool on many engagements, and it’s a powerful way to demonstrate a lot of value and begin building a strong story on migration and optimizing your environment.

However, while we were out busting a MOVE, Microsoft was revving up to 3.0 it’s stealthy and similar product called “MAP – Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit.” MAP was an attempt to combine these tools into one interface and to begin incorporating some capacity planning for its server software as well. A VERY cool tool, if you knew about it, and could get permission to run it in your client’s environment.

Those of us on the using-the-tool side (as opposed to the writing-the-tool side) were worried that our investment in using MOVE was for naught, as MAP would soon supplant it in functionality. More on this in a moment.

Back to MAP 3.0. A few weeks ago, Microsoft posted on its Connect site a MAP 3.1 private beta. MAP 3.1 is hot hot hot. Check it:

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
(or MAP) is the next-generation version of the agent-less assessment
platform from Microsoft. In this new version, MAP has expanded its
capabilities into assessment areas of Hyper-V server virtualization,
desktop security, and SQL 2008 migration. In summary, MAP 3.1
assessment areas now include:

  • Server Migration Reports and Proposals (Windows Server 2008)
  • Server Consolidation Reports and Proposals (Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Hyper-V) (NEW!)
  • Desktop
    Security Assessment to determine if desktops have anti-virus and
    anti-malware programs installed or if the Windows Firewall is turned on
  • Application Virtualization Assessment Reports (Microsoft Application Virtualization, formerly SoftGrid)
  • SQL 2008 Migration Assessment Reports (NEW!)
  • Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 Hardware Assessment Reports and Proposals

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit performs three key functions – including hardware and device inventory, compatibility analysis, and readiness reporting.

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is based upon an agent-less infrastructure scanning technology that allows users to conduct a network inventory of their servers, desktops, applications, and devices – all without installing any software agents on each machine being assessed. This tool has the ability to discover machines within Active-Directory managed domains and forests as well as workgroups.

With the new user interface and enterprise-scale inventory engine, users can generate multiple technology migration reports and proposals for their OS migration and virtualization projects in a matter of hours.

Fast and Zero-Touch.
MAP provides secure network-wide assessment of a typical environment in a matter of hours instead of days, all without the deployment of any software agents on each inventoried machines.

Saves Pre-Sales and Planning Time.
For most IT consultants and Microsoft Partners, a detailed network inventory and assessment of servers and desktops would typically take days of manual labor. With MAP, they can now drastically reduce the time it takes for the same inventory to a matter of hours; allowing
them more time to focus their efforts on critical pre-sales engagement tasks. For IT professionals, it significantly reduces the time it takes to gather the information to make the business case for client and server migration as well as for their upcoming virtualization projects.

Actionable Recommendations and Reporting.
MAP offers valuable inventory and readiness assessment reports with specific upgrade recommendations and virtualization candidate reports that make it easier for IT migration and deployment projects to get off the ground and running.

From Desktops to Servers.
MAP provides technology assessment and planning recommendations for many Microsoft products including Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, Virtual Server 2005 R2, Microsoft Application Virtualization (SoftGrid), Terminal Services, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007, SQL 2008, and also desktop security.

Try the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 3.1 Beta now.

Did you catch that first bit: “Agentless”?? I sure did. This makes these tools incredibly more useful and viable in a foreign (read: client) environment where you don’t have the luxury or permission to install agents on thousands of desktops.

Also – how about that last bit where it helps provide planning recommendations for all those server types. Note especially the Application Virtualization attention. Are you excited yet?

Ok, so whither MOVE? Word on the streets of Amsterdam is that MOVE is undergoing a major overhaul and will be integrated with MAP, meaning that the disproportionate value that MOVE brought to ACT, etc. will live on in its new iteration. The current version of MOVE is still very useful – some of the reports we do are fantastic. You should definitely see them.

We’re very excited to see what our sistren and brethren in NL come up with. For now, we’ll be putting the MAP 3.1 installer on our USB keys, nestled right up next to our MOVE installer, and bringing them to an environment near you.

I’ll be doing a review on the reports that MAP generates soon. Stay tuned.

Download it Now, or call me, and I’ll come out and show you how it works!

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