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1E extends its IT efficiency story to desktop migration with Nomad 2012 release

Analyst: John Abbott 16 Aug, 2012

1E, perhaps best-known for its NightWatchman energy management package, has been focusing recently on another area: software migration. It recently released a new version of its OS deployment tool, Nomad 2012, which works in conjunction with Microsoft Systems Center 2012, and is talking up the growing opportunity to help organizations make the move up to Windows 7 and beyond. 1E says it has already helped one US organization deploy Windows 7 onto 39,000 PCs in one month, which it believes to be a record.

The 451 Take With budgets under pressure, end-user organizations are looking to do more with less, so efficiency tools should catch their attention. 1E is extending its efficiency message beyond core energy management. The migration to Windows 7 and Windows 8 is proving a huge distraction for many organizations, and as the clock ticks toward Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, the pressure continues to mount. Many users can't see any clear benefits to the upgrade other than maintaining their support. 1E hopes to provide a more positive incentive to the upgrade process by automating as much of it as it can, minimizing infrastructure overload during the migration (particularly network data transfer), and eliminating the need for servers and infrastructure through automatic distribution and more efficient failover and recovery scenarios, which it says can lead to significant savings. However, 1E doesn't address the application-compatibility part of the puzzle; it leaves that to partners.

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Context Privately held 1E was founded in 1997 by Sumir Karayi, Philip Wilcock and Mark Blackburn as a Microsoft systems management services company. The three each invested £500 ($784) and gave the company the name of a common Windows NT systems error. Fuelled largely by the systems management needs of big clients, such as British Airways, Dell and Verizon Wireless, the company grew rapidly, reaching annual revenue of around £20m and 120 staff by 2009. Today it has its headquarters in London and New York, with offices in Paris and New Delhi, India; it has 20 million licenses deployed worldwide and 1,600 customers, including the likes of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Dell, HSBC, ING, Nestle, BNP Paribas, Ford Motor Company, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the UK Department of Work and Pensions. Customers range in size from 500 seats up to 300,000. Products 1E's first product was SMSWakeUp, a Microsoft plug-in to exploit the wake-on-LAN feature developed for network interface cards by Intel/IBM. 1E's engineers then reasoned that it would make sense to close the machines down once the patch had been administered. In this way, 1E's NightWatchman product was created, emerging as a complete power management product in 1999. A year later, 1E released Nomad, network protection technology aimed at improving the efficiency of systems management: its core value is to intelligently use spare network bandwidth to deliver software upgrades to PCs, servers and sites. Since then, 1E has added additional tools, such as Shopping (an enterprise app store) and AppClarity (software asset management, for licensing efficiency). Five areas of particular focus have emerged for 1E: energy, systems management, consumerization, software licensing and private cloud. Previously, 1E had provided point integration between individual products, but it has developed and released a common platform to underpin them all called the ActiveEfficiency Platform. Instead of attempting to automate 80% of tasks on 100% of the platforms, as most projects have tried to do, 1E takes a slightly different approach with Nomad, targeting 100% automation for 90% of the platforms. The first method involves expensive desk-side visits to every PC. The second requires visits to only 10% of the PCs – a 90% saving, and 90% faster. (The 'problem 10%' of PCs typically involves specialist applications or support for proprietary hardware add-ons.) Nomad 2012 transfers IT content between datacenter and branch office using spare network capacity; reduces infrastructure costs by eliminating unneeded servers; and automates much of the process. The software dynamically determines the best system to pull data across the WAN and uses a 'reverse QoS' algorithm to calculate free bandwidth, as well as a collection of protocols for efficient packet

Copyright 2012 - The 451 Group


delivery, flow control and congestion avoidance; it then distributes the software locally to peer systems without user impact. It implements consistency checking and byte-level differencing of data over the network and to peers. User data is backed up to peer systems during PC replace or rebuild scenarios, and PXE remote boot capabilities enable bare-metal rebuilds without a visit to the server or PC. Integration into Microsoft System Center is through extension wizards. Strategy 1E says its 'record 39,000 PCs in a month' migration was part of a 90,000 PC deployment project that took place over four months and saw an 80% reduction in overall deployment times and savings of nearly $8m. Between 1,000 and 1,500 PCs were being migrated every day using a 'business as usual' team of five. One global soft drink manufacturer eliminated the need for 650 distribution point servers, resulting in annual savings of $2.4m. 1E is trying to bring Win 7 migration into the business-as-usual category rather than turn it into a special project that requires its own specialist project team – after all, everyday machine replacement and break/fix issues will continue the deployment process indefinitely, in any case. And after Windows 7 comes Windows 8. However, 1E has steered clear of application compatibility and migration issues, preferring to work with partners in that area, which is a crowded sector. It is, however, often the application-migration question – including problems with embedded Internet Explorer compatibility – that holds back OS migrations. Competition 1E's primary competitor is Microsoft itself, which has an urgent need to see that its user base upgrades to its new generation of products. Windows XP, which first shipped way back in August 2001, has been on the market far longer than Microsoft would ever have anticipated, largely because of the disaster of Windows Vista, which most enterprise customers avoided altogether (recent market figures suggest that almost 80% of business desktops are still running XP). Official support for XP from Microsoft is now due to end on April 8, 2014, and it's unlikely to be extended any further. Meanwhile, Windows 8 is due for release in October, and there's some confusion among businesses as to the applicability of the new 'metro' interface – if it doesn't catch on, then Windows 7 might end up having as extended a lifetime as XP. Windows Server 2012 (the server version of Windows 8), due for general availability in early September, is an entirely different matter, however, with important enhancements to Hyper-V virtualization and support for cloud computing models that make it a more enticing proposition.

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Microsoft offers tools such as RIS (remote installation services) and its successor, WDS (Windows deployment services), as well as BITS (background intelligent transfer service) and its successor, BranchCache. Bellevue, Washington-based Adaptiva has a product called OneSite that is a third-party alternative to Nomad. SWOT Analysis
Strengths Nomad is an established product that builds out native Microsoft capabilities and obviates the need for specialist migration project teams and dedicated infrastructure. Opportunities Windows 7 migration is becoming urgent as the clock ticks down toward the end of support for Windows XP. Those looking ahead to Windows 8 migrations may well tackle Windows 7 as a first step. Weaknesses OS migration is only part of the story, and 1E doesn't offer the crucial applications side of the story, although it's happy to partner with others in this space. Threats The migration business goes in cycles as pressure points come and go. If Windows 8 flops, then users will stick with Windows 7 for the next decade, just as they've done with XP.

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Reproduced by permission of The 451 Group; © 2011. This report was originally published within 451 Research’s Market Insight Service. For additional information on 451 Research or to apply for trial access, go to:

Copyright 2012 - The 451 Group