Microsoft provides a multitude of tools that enables easy Windows 7 desktop deployment across an organisation. Understanding the existing hardware capability of each of your systems within the existing infrastructure is a vital stage of the deployment process. Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) is just the right tool to identify the existing systems that are capable of running Windows 7. It also helps identify why, if any, a system is not capable of running Windows 7.
The MAP tool provides organisations with Hardware inventory with a compatibility analysis along with a Readiness report. Apart from Windows 7 based system, MAP can be installed on Windows Vista, Window XP Pro SP2 or later, Windows 2008, Windows 2003. The tool can run on either 32 bit system or 64 bit system. As of this writing Itanium based processor are not supported. SQL Server 2008 R2 Express along with .NET Framework 3.5.1 with Word and Excel are needed as well.
It is not recommended to install Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool on a domain controller as it would require installation of MS Office 2010 or part of it along with SQL which is against the best practices.
Readiness can be checked for Clients, Virtualised environment and servers. Client readiness can be checked in terms of Windows 7 and Office 2010 systems while server readiness can be checked in context of Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2. Cloud readiness in terms of Office 365 can also be checked with the latest version of MAP Tool.
For the functioning of MAP, no agent is required to be installed on target systems which may be considered its best feature. In a nutshell, the process of finding clients is known as discovery and once discovered MAP would build up an inventory from the discovered clients which finally result into reports that are quiet informative and self-explanatory.
There are different discovery methods which can be used such as Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), windows networking protocols, importing computer name(s) from file, through IP Address range or manual entry of computer names.
Under the AD DS, LDAP query is made to the DC asking for information regarding the client which can be Domain, Container or OU based. There might be cases wherein some systems may not show up; the reason being those computers might have not logged onto the AD Domain in over 90 days.
Windows Networking Protocols are an alternative means of discovery for systems that are not part of the Active Directory network. This method enables discovery of system that are part of a workgroup or NT 4.0 domains. Diving deeper into the requirements of discovery through WMI i.e. Windows Management Instrumentation, firewalls need to be configured to allowed Remote WMI calls (TCP 135) and File and Printer Sharing enabled (TCP 139, 445; UDP 137, 138).
Reporting section of MAP is great with easy to understand summary as well as detailed reports. MAP also provides recommendations for hardware upgrades, if any. MAP also suggests the possible outcome if the hardware upgrade is done according to its recommendations.
Software usage tracker enables organisations to gather information pertaining to CAL (Client Access Licenses) for core server services. Keeping a track of actual licenses that are being used, financial savings can be obtained by making a decision about the actual no. of licenses that are required and need to be maintained.