Air Force Takes Flyte

Hanscom Air Force Base (HAFB) in Lexington, Massachusetts is using FastLane Technologies' Flyte to migrate 3800 Banyan VINES users and 75 VINES servers to Windows NT. Jeff Smyth, senior systems engineer, said, "We had been planning to migrate to NT anyway, but we stepped up our efforts when the General said, 'Do it now!'"

Smyth says that one reason HAFB decided to migrate to NT is that Banyan does not support the Defense Messaging System (DMS), which government agencies require. In contrast, Microsoft has created Exchange DMS specifically to address this need.

Smyth likes Flyte because it provides ways to prevent problems before they occur. For example, as HAFB migrates all its users to Exchange, Flyte lets them store a single copy of a message on the server to avoid problems such as attachment explosion. If one user sends the same 10MB PowerPoint presentation to 15 different users, storage space can quickly disappear. Flyte lets you store one copy of the presentation on the file server and migrate only the pointer to that file location. Then, each message recipient will have read-only access to the file on the server.

Smyth also likes the fact that Flyte is written in a scripting language, FINAL. This scripting tool comes with the product, and Smyth's team can use FINAL to seamlessly customize any portion of the migration.

HAFB is using StreetTalk for NT (ST4NT) during the migration project, because it lets the VINES and NT environments coexist. HAFB bought three copies of ST4NT, which include a license that lets all users access the servers. With the integration that ST4NT provides, Smyth can replace a VINES server with an NT server without affecting the end users.

A big challenge that HAFB faced was creating a large-scale NT architecture and migration plan. HAFB brought in Digital's consulting services to help with that effort. Smyth recommends putting a lot of attention into planning the migration. "Even with a good plan, a migration is risky. With a bad plan, you're doomed to failure," says Smyth.

Smyth also suggests getting upper management's commitment to the migration effort. Working around problems is a lot easier when senior managers, rather than MIS, are driving the project.

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