The Co-operative has used Centrix’s Workspace iQ tool to analyse its portfolio of applications in preparation for migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Ian Cawson, Senior Technical Architect at The Co-operative Group, explained to Computerworld UK that with the company having over 3,500 users, it was important to understand what applications were being used in order to ease the upcoming migration project.

Cawson explained that previous projects had been carried out using ‘human intervention’, which had proved troublesome.

“Two years ago we migrated our users to Citrix Xen desktops, a virtual desktop environment, but we didn’t have any automated tools. It was a case of sending people emails to find out what drivers they had and what applications they were using,” said Cawson.

“We then had IT walking around and engaging with people to verify what they had told us was correct, because you end up in a situation where a group of people would have one product but called it three different names. There was a lot of consolidation that needed to be done,” he added.

The Co-operative group is now looking to migrate thousands of users to Windows 7 over the next five or six years. It currently has six data centres, although this will be consolidated down to approximately three over the next 18 months, and is primarily using HP for its hardware, Citrix for desktop virtualisation, VMware for back-end virtualisation, Cisco for network devices and BT for its network backbone.

“Now we are looking at migrating to Windows 7 we don’t want these same problems. We needed to do a bit more analysis and didn’t want to use the old method of spreadsheets,” said Cawson.

“The Centrix Workspace iQ tool allows us to automatically capture what the user is actually using both in terms of applications and shared drives, so it becomes a lot easier and faster.”

He added: “We don’t have to keep going back because it’s not human intervention. So if an application is called one thing, it is reported as that, and not as multiple copies of it.”

The iQ tool works by centrally distributing an agent to all of the 3,500 user devices and then tracks application and drive usage using an ‘event driven session’ approach. This means that it tracks all of the changes of every session, of every user, using every application, instead of just taking a snapshot of usage at a particular moment in time.

This information is captured by the local agent and then transferred back to the server where the reporting and analysis takes place. Cawson has been able to cut down the number of applications from 1,400 to 322 as a result.

He said: “The amount of detail you can go into is quite significant. We aren’t having to jump from spreadsheet to spreadsheet, and we can get a really clear idea of what users are doing with applications and drives.”