Testing and Piloting the Deployment Plan

Testing and Piloting the Deployment Plan

Before rolling out your deployment project, you need to test it for functionality in a controlled environment. Before you begin testing your deployment project, create a test plan that describes the tests you will run, the expected results, a schedule for performing tests, and who will run each test. The test plan must specify the criteria and priority for each test. Prioritizing your tests can help you avoid slowing down your deployment because of minor failures that can be easily corrected later; it can also help you identify larger problems that might require redesigning your deployment plan.

The testing phase is essential because a single error condition can be duplicated to all computers in your environment if it is not corrected before you deploy the image. It is recommended that you roll out the deployment to a small group of users after you test the project. Piloting the installation allows you to assess the success of the deployment project in a production environment before rolling it out to all users.

Create a test lab that is not connected to your network but mirrors, as closely as possible, your organization's network and hardware configurations. Set up your hardware, software, and network services as they are in your users' environment.

Perform comprehensive testing on each hardware platform, testing both application installation and operation. This can greatly increase the confidence of the project teams and the business-decision makers, resulting in a higher quality deployment.

To pilot the project, roll out the deployment to a small group of users. The primary purpose of pilot projects is not to test Windows Vista. Instead, the aim of your early pilots is to get user feedback for the project team. This feedback is used to further determine the features that you need to enable or disable on Windows Vista. This is particularly relevant if you upgrade from Microsoft® Windows® 98 or Microsoft® Windows® Millennium Edition (Me), which do not include features such as domain-based computer accounts, local security, and file system security. For pilots, you might choose a user population that represents a cross-section of your business in terms of job function and computer proficiency. Install pilot systems by using the same method that you plan to use for the final rollout.

The pilot process provides a small-scale test of the eventual full-scale rollout, so you can use the results of the pilot, including any problems encountered, to finalize your rollout plan. Compile the pilot results and use the data to estimate upgrade times, the number of concurrent upgrades you can sustain, and peak loads on the user support functions.