Once you know how to conduct the pilot deployment program, the next thing to figure out is how you are going to roll out Vista to the program's participants, and eventually to the rest of the users in the organization. For example, if you work in a really small company, then the deployment method of choice might be a manual deployment from the Windows Vista installation DVD. Larger organizations will likely prefer a zero touch or a light touch installation.
Keep in mind that one of the main purposes for doing a pilot deployment is to determine how well a full-scale deployment will go and to work out any kinks before you roll Vista out to everyone. Plan the deployment process carefully and use the same deployment method for the pilot program as you plan on using for the full-scale deployment.
I recommend initially trying to deploy Vista to one or two program participants at a time. That gives you a chance to discover and correct any flaws in the process before you have to deploy it on a companywide basis. If you were to deploy Vista to all of the program participants at the same time, but found a minor glitch in the deployment process, you would have no easy way of testing your fix for that glitch prior to the full-scale Vista deployment.
One more thing to consider when planning your deployment method is an emergency exit strategy. If you have properly evaluated the hardware and software that is used in your organization, then there shouldn't be any surprises during the deployment process. Even so, I have worked in IT long enough to know that even the best laid plans can be unexpectedly derailed, so put a plan in place for quickly reverting the program participants to Windows XP should a catastrophic failure occur.
How to handle your Vista migration
Step 1: How to handle your Vista migration
Step 2: Plan a pilot deployment program
Step 3: Decide on a deployment mechanism
Step 4: Train the support staff and the end users
Step 5: Assess the results of the pilot deployment program
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has received Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award four times for his work with Windows Server, IIS and Exchange Server. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and was once a network administrator for Fort Knox.
This was first published in September 2008