The Next Phase for Migration
Transforming critical data from one platform to another has always been the hardest part about migrating to Linux. So why are there so few third-party tools available to help you through the process?
One of the most difficult challenges in migrating to Linux from any other platform
-- but especially those platforms that are Windows-based -- has always been
the migration itself.
You can teach users how to move a mouse in GNOME instead of Windows. You can
teach them how to type ls instead
of dir. You can also show them
the resources -- in the form of books, videos and software tutorials -- to get
them through the process without calling a mutiny. Essentially, the more money
you spend in retraining and motivating, the easier migration tends to happen
(to a point). But you can also substitute time for money and still make everything
work fairly easily.
What doesn't seem to happen easily is the transformation of the critical data
from one platform to the other. During the migration, you want to keep or mirror
things already in existence, such as directory structures, application settings
and so on. The more you can keep -- the more you can make the new environment
look and work like the old -- the easier the transition becomes.
While there are all sorts of products that promise to ease the pain of migration,
I've only found one that was truly impressive: Versora's Progression Desktop
for Linux. This product could do automated migrations from Windows to Linux
using simple rules. Not only could it bring in the settings I've talked about,
but it could also bring Outlook mail into Thunderbird (or Evolution, KMail,
etc.), Explorer settings into Firefox or Konqueror, MS Office settings into
OpenOffice.org, and so on. The supported Windows versions ranged from Windows
98 and up, and the supported Linux versions read like a who's-who of all the
I speak of Progression in the past tense, because this past June, Kaseya purchased
Versora's assets. The following was posted by Mike Sheffey, Versora's CEO, on
the Kaseya Web site:
Dear Versora Customers,
On June 18th Kaseya Corporation purchased all the technology assets of
Versora. The Progression Desktop product line is being retired and will be
available as an integrated module for user state migration and configuration
management with the Kaseya Product Suite. This integration is expected to
be complete by the end of 2007.
As users' machines become more personalized and customized to meet their
needs, managing the individual user state becomes more of a challenge. With
the integration of Versora's technology into the Kaseya management framework,
managing a user's day to day state and assisting in seamless data migration
to new desktop operating systems such as Microsoft Vista and Mac OS X will
be a great pairing of two superior technologies.
It has been a pleasure working with you over the years and we appreciate
all of your support and feedback. With the help of you our customers and partners,
we were able to deliver a very valuable solution that will live on and grow
as an integrated solution at Kaseya.
Very Truly Yours,
One line, in particular, speaks volumes: "As users' machines become more
personalized and customized to meet their needs, managing the individual user
state becomes more of a challenge." Coming from a company that knows how
to create a good product, that's something that should make you take notice.
It's interesting that when you search for "Linux migration" in Google,
the first entry to pop up is a sponsored link offering to "compare Windows
to Linux." That link is sponsored by Microsoft. A sponsored link from Symantec
also appears, as well as some from IBM, Dell and others. The first two natural
links were for www.linuxmigration.com,
and further down are the usual suspects: Red Hat, Novell and so on.
Given the complexity of the task, I find it hard to believe that the only truly
good tool for desktop migration is gone with nothing there to replace it. Could
this hamper the adoption of Linux? Could this be a market opportunity that's
being overlooked? Or could it be that the task really isn't as difficult as
I've always made it out to be -- that migrating settings isn't substantial enough
to warrant a third-party tool?
I'm interested to hear your thoughts. Feel free to pass them on at firstname.lastname@example.org
or post them below, and I'll address them in a future column.
Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on Linux, Unix and certification,
including the Security+ Study Guide, Fourth Edition. He can be reached at email@example.com.