Gateway Goes Pro

Monday Feb 23rd 2004 by Patricia Fusco
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Thinking about upgrading your operating system? Network security concerns and aging e-mail servers are driving mid-sized businesses to consider making the leap. If this is the year of your OS migration, Gateway has a way to make the switch a little less agonizing.

Older operating systems have a way of dragging a business down. The proposition of upgrading a business network can be costly, but not making the move to a more efficient, and more importantly, more secure operating system (OS) can be ruinous.

There's no such thing as an easy OS migration. For many businesses, OS migration is a never-ending cycle that eats up enormous amounts of money and IT personnel time, as well as generating frustration among employees. If your company is considering an OS migration anytime soon, Gateway Professional Services has a way to eliminate much of the fear and loathing associated with switching to more up-to-date hardware and software systems.

In August 2003 Gateway formed a strategic relationship with IBM Global Services to provide on-site service and field support for Gateway's systems and networking division. At the time of the announcement, Gateway hinted that the agreement with IBM would not only deepen the scope of its support for business-critical computing systems, but also allow Gateway to broaden its service portfolio.

Delivered today is the firstborn progeny of the union between Gateway and IBM Global Services — Gateway Professional Services. This is an entirely new category for Gateway, one that will be of particular interest to the mid-market — at least those medium-sized businesses with 100 to 1,000 employees that have an OS migration looming on the horizon.

Gateway Professional Services is backed by more than 5,000 highly trained and certified experts through its partnership with IBM Global Services. Gateway intends to deliver best-practice methodologies for planning, designing and implementing computing systems for mid-sized businesses. Dan Ludwick, Gateway vice president of support and professional services, explained that the debut of Gateway Professional Services is right in step with what mid-market businesses need.

"Network security issues and business continuity concerns are driving mid-sized companies to take the leap and upgrade their operating systems," Ludwick said. "This is the year of OS migration, many businesses have to decide now how they are going upgrade their systems."

Gateway Professional Services OS Migration services consists of different passageways to greater business productivity and improved network security. Businesses currently operating Windows NT 4.0, Red Hat Linux, Novell Netware or UNIX legacy systems can tap into Gateway Professional Services to prepare for migrating to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or SUSE Linux. And if your mail server is a particular point of pain, mid-sized businesses can utilize Gateway's migration services to move from Microsoft Exchange 5.5, Lotus Notes, or Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Windows Exchange.

Gateway doesn't just take a new OS and slam it into your business processes. Gateway has developed best practices — relying on proven, engineer-tested migration processes — that can be customized to meet the specific needs of mid-sized businesses. Matt Roskuski, Gateway director of professional services, explained the three different phases of Gateway's OS migration methodology.

"A Gateway account manager completes an in-depth assessment of the client's IT environment; this includes a complete inventory of current IT systems. It's equally important that we understand what the client's key businesses processes are and what challenges they face," Roskuski said. "In phase two we design a solution aligned with the client's business objectives. In phase three we validate the architecture, install the new OS and perform the migration. It's a consistent process that can be tailored to meet the business goals of each client."

Gateway's in-depth assessment includes compiling a catalogue of all servers, PCs, and relevant peripherals. Business processes are reviewed and a Gateway account manager will look carefully at all software and business processes network supports. This includes applications and operating systems — potentially multiple operating systems. Gateway service engineers review the information using a specific set of network analysis tools to complete the profile and prepare a comprehensive proposal for each client's OS migration. Ludwick noted that the first two phases of the OS migration can be completed in about two or three weeks.

"The three different phases are bundled together to make Gateway Professional Services affordable for smaller businesses," Ludwick said. "The key is to produce a comprehensive proposal before the client even spends a dime on a migration project."

OS migration services are just the tip of the iceberg for Gateway. If all goes accordingly for the first service rollout, Gateway Professional Services will grow to include server consolidation and clustering services, as well as network assessment and design services by mid-year. Before the year is through, Gateway has ambitious plans to offer storage, security consulting and business continuity services, too.

Ludwick said Gateway Professional Services intends to provide all the support and implementation services required to build enterprise-class project management solutions for the mid-market.

"We're offering a unique set of services designed and tailored to make it easy for smaller businesses to acquire and operate upgraded computing systems, Ludwick said. "When we simplify the administration process of an OS migration, we drive down the costs associated with the project and increase the reliability of the entire IT system while reducing the complexity of managing such a system. We provide a constant, consistent process tailored to be efficient for smaller businesses."

Gateway Professional Services can reduce the risk of project overruns and eliminate security vulnerabilities associated with inadequate network design and architecture. And there's little doubt that upgrading servers to Microsoft Windows 2003 or SUSE Linux offers immediate network security improvements.

The only question that remains is how hard-pressed small businesses are to complete OS migrations this year. With Microsoft's support for Windows NT coming to a close at the end of the year, Gateway is baking on being there for the mass mid-market migration to more secure computing systems. It's not much of a gamble for Gateway to enter the professional services arena. With no money down to start investigating an OS migration project, few business can afford to ignore an impending system upgrade.

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