Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) oversees production of 550,000 barrels of oil a day, and it has 5,000 full-time and 30,000 contract employees. PDO was still using the Windows 2000 Professional operating system, and it decided to upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system in conjunction with upgrading other parts of its technology infrastructure. PDO has moved 90 percent of its computers to Windows 7, and, as of February 2011, it has made more than 95 percent of its 300 business and technology applications compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Internet Explorer 8. PDO has found that Windows 7 provides much improved stability and manageability, and this has reduced the demand on support staff and increased worker productivity. PDO is also taking advantage of the interoperability among Microsoft products to ease system administration and improve customization of its computers.
The Sultanate of Oman is located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. Oman has a population of a little over 2 million citizens, and in 2010, the United Nations recognized Oman as the most improved nation over the past 40 years. Petroleum production is the country’s biggest industry, with approximately 550,000 barrels of oil extracted each day, making Oman the world’s twenty-fifth largest oil producer in 2009.
Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) is responsible for more than 90 percent of the country’s oil production, and almost all of its natural gas. PDO is majority owned by the government of Oman, while Royal Dutch Shell has approximately a one-third stake. Two smaller partners own the remainder. The company has eight offices around Oman, with its headquarters in the capital city of Muscat. PDO has numerous additional field offices, and it has 5,000 full-time workers and employs approximately 30,000 contractors.
At the time, the organization’s 6,000 desktop and portable computers were still running the Windows 2000 Professional operating system and this was resulting in business challenges.
“It had become difficult for us to upgrade our hardware and software, since many products created these days are incompatible with older operating systems,” says Farooq Niyaz, IT Project Delivery Lead at Petroleum Development of Oman. “Also, the number of support calls logged as a result of using an older operating system was increasing, and the effort required to maintain 6,000 computers in terms of security, patches, and service packs was becoming a burden. We were unable to use modern tools like the Microsoft System Center [desktop solutions], so we were using manual group policies to patch, administer, and monitor our machines. It was very, very cumbersome.”
The PDO infrastructure is based primarily on Microsoft products, and in addition to Windows 2000, the company was using older versions of other software, including Microsoft Office XP, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, the Windows Server 2003 operating system, Windows Server 2003 Active Directory, and the Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Internet browser.
||This is the smoothest upgrade project I’ve been involved with. It caused minimum disruption to the business, user satisfaction is high, and our Windows 7 Enterprise systems are much easier to manage.
IT Project Delivery Lead, Petroleum Development of Oman
Given the issues involved in keeping all of these older products running and working well together, PDO decided to embark on a major infrastructure upgrade. As the first step, in June 2010 PDO upgraded to Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory, and upgraded about 30 percent of its servers from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2.
With the back-end upgrades complete, PDO turned next to upgrading its client software, including the desktop operating system and Microsoft Office. In addition to finding the best way to upgrade 6,000 computers with minimal disruption to the business, the company also needed to ensure that its 300 line-of-business (LOB) applications would be compatible with its newer operating system. These applications included some custom-built applications and some highly sophisticated software for reservoir simulation, well engineering, production chemistry, hydrocarbon accounting, finance, logistics, and other functions.Solution
In November 2008, PDO began planning to upgrade its client computers to the Windows Vista operating system. The IT staff started testing applications for compatibility with Windows Vista, but in mid-2009, the Windows 7 operating system was released, and PDO chose to revise its plans and make the move to Windows 7 Enterprise instead. Throughout the planning and deployment phases, PDO engaged Microsoft Services, and Microsoft consultants worked in-house with the PDO team.
During the second half of 2009, the company started retesting and reengineering its applications to make them compatible with Windows 7, and it began planning for a companywide upgrade of its desktop and portable computers. “Changing our plans meant a delay in our upgrade,” says Farooq. “But moving to Windows 7 Enterprise was a key strategic decision, because it increases the longevity of our desktop environment.”Application Compatibility Testing
Testing and upgrading the 300 LOB applications was one of the most important parts of the planning process. The IT staff set up a special test laboratory, and it broke the process into three main phases:
1. Technical Testing, in which IT staff tested applications to see if they would install and run on Windows 7.
2. Functional Testing, in which business users were invited to try out compatible or upgraded applications to ensure that all features and functions were working properly.
3. User Acceptance Testing, in which the IT group and the business officially certified that applications were working correctly and ready for deployment.
PDO found that most of its applications required little effort to make them compatible with Windows 7 Enterprise. “In some cases, we just needed a simple upgrade to a new version of the software, and in some cases it meant making small adjustments to the code of our custom applications,” explains Farooq. “We found that for about 75 percent of our applications, the upgrade process was easy. Some of our well engineering and petroleum engineering applications required more effort due to their complexity.”
By February 2011, PDO had almost all of its applications running on Windows 7. “At this point, 95 percent of our applications are compatible with Windows 7 Enterprise, and our goal is to have 100 percent compatibility by the end of June 2011,” says Farooq. “We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
In addition to standalone applications, PDO had built 100 custom web applications in-house with the Microsoft .NET Framework. As part of the operating system upgrade, the company moved from Internet Explorer 6 to Windows Internet Explorer 8, and it had to ensure that the web applications would work with the new browser. “It turned out that making all of our web applications compatible with Internet Explorer 8 was not a big issue,” says Salim Ambusaidi, Application Migration Lead at Petroleum Development of Oman. Deploying the Software
PDO began its rollout of Windows 7 Enterprise in February 2010. The first phase was a month-long pilot deployment to 150 users in the IT group. In April and May, IT staff conducted an extended pilot that included about 750 computers from various departments within PDO, and a mass deployment to 4,500 more machines ran from mid-June until through December 2010.
||It turned out that making all of our web applications compatible with Internet Explorer 8 was not a big issue.
Application Migration Lead, Petroleum Development of Oman
Prior to the Windows 7 upgrade, PDO had installed Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to assist with deployment. IT staff initially used the application’s hardware and software inventory features to gather baseline information about the company’s IT infrastructure. The deployment team then performed the rollout with a combination of network deployment with System Center Configuration Manager and upgrades via DVD.
PDO is very happy with the way the Windows 7 deployment has gone. “Migrating 90 percent of our user base from Windows 2000 to Windows 7 and achieving 95 percent application compatibility in a relatively short time was a big achievement for us,” says Farooq. “The remaining computers should be migrated by the end of June 2011 when our application upgrades are complete.”
With Windows 7 Enterprise deployed across the company, PDO needed to make sure that its employees would be able to use the newer operating system effectively. To do this, the company provided a combination of training and increased support staff. “We utilized our Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to organize a day-long training on Windows 7 and Office 2007 and we set up online training modules, and weekly hints and tips,” says Farooq. “The feedback we’ve gotten from employees is that they like the operating system.” The team also did presentations in most of the company’s eight major locations as part of their change management plan.Managing the New Infrastructure
For the IT staff, the combination of Windows 7 and its other Microsoft upgrades has made its technology infrastructure much easier to administer. Computer systems are much more stable, and security is much strengthened. This has reduced the number of calls for support. “Before the upgrade, we had 20 people on the help desk,” says Farooq. “We added some extra staff to help with the upgrade, but once the deployment was complete, we were able to reduce our help desk staff to 15.”
|Figure 1. The PDO Windows 7 Migration team gave presentations about |
the upgrade at most of the company’s major locations.
System administrators have found that the interoperability among the different components of the Microsoft solution stack has improved system manageability. “Now that we have Windows 7 and Active Directory, we can take advantage of the improved security and management features in Active Directory and new group policy features for Windows 7,” says Farooq. “We use Group Policy settings to customize the look and feel of the desktop, and to control hibernation and sleep times to reduce power consumption, which is a green IT initiative at PDO. We also use them to customize other aspects of Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Plus.”
All in all, PDO has been very pleased with the success of its Windows 7 upgrade. “This is the easiest upgrade project I’ve been involved with,” says Farooq. “It caused minimum disruption to the business, user satisfaction is high, and our Windows 7 Enterprise systems are much easier to manage. There were a lot of dependencies between our different upgrade projects and the key to our strategy was finding those dependencies and executing the upgrades in the right order.”Benefits
With organization and thorough planning, PDO was able to accomplish a major multiphase infrastructure upgrade across the enterprise. Working with updated software has improved the stability and security of computer systems, and this has made system management easier and has reduced system downtime and support calls. The company is also saving money, and its new infrastructure positions PDO well for further technological advances.
A Highly Secure and Stable Operating System
PDO has found that the stability and security of Windows 7 Enterprise has helped reduce support calls by at least 10 percent, and employees are more efficient, because they can take advantage of the new productivity features in Windows 7.
In addition to operating system security, PDO is pleased with the extra security in Internet Explorer 8. “The new browser has a lot of security improvements,” says Farooq. “Users are warned about sites with invalid certificates, and Internet Explorer 8 has improved protection from malware. The ability to open multiple sites within the same browser window using tabs has been well received.”A Modern, Extensible Infrastructure
In addition to the upgrades performed so far, PDO is looking into deploying Microsoft Office Communications Server and Active Directory Certificate Services as an enterprisewide Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). PDO is also expanding its use of the Microsoft System Center desktop solutions. “We’re now using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager for patch management and application delivery,” says Farooq. “We’ve also implemented Microsoft System Center Operations Manager to help manage the desktop environment.”
Familiar User Interface
PDO found that its users got up to speed quickly, particularly since many of them were already using Windows 7 or Microsoft Office 2007 at home. The company also took advantage of the Microsoft Home Use Program and made Microsoft Office 2007 available to the rest of its employees, and many of them took advantage of the offer. User response to the new desktop software has been positive.
“A survey of 25 percent of our users told us that they like the Windows 7 interface and they find the operating system easy to use,” says Farooq. “Some of the features they cited were the new tabs available in Internet Explorer 8, and the wealth of productivity enhancements built into Windows 7.” Cost Savings
PDO believes the upgrade is leading to a variety of cost savings. “Having a more secure infrastructure saves our engineers time spent patching systems, and that translates to budget savings,” says Farooq. “They also spend less time working on desktop machines because Windows 7 Enterprise is so stable, and it means less downtime for employees while systems are fixed. Windows 7 also includes a lot of new features—like the Snipping Tool for taking screen shots—that allow us to eliminate third-party applications we used to have to buy for those. There are cost savings in all aspects of the upgrade.”
Energy consumption is one area with potentially large cost savings. “We have 6000 computers that sit unused outside of office hours,” explains Farooq. “5400 of those computers are now using the energy-efficient sleep and hibernation modes in Windows 7, which translates to big power savings, and that saves us money.”Windows 7
Works the way you want: Windows 7 will help your organization use information technology to gain a competitive advantage in today’s new world of work. Your people will be able to be more productive anywhere. You will be able to support your mobile workforce with better access to shared data and collaboration tools. And your IT staff will have better tools and technologies for enhanced corporate IT security and data protection, and more efficient deployment and management.
For more information about Windows 7, go to:For More Information
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