NZ forestry giant prepares 5,000-desktop XP rollout

Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. expects to save millions of dollars from a massive rollout of Windows XP throughout New Zealand and Australia.

The forest products company will replace Windows 95 on 5,000 desktops and laptops with Windows XP and Office XP, and substitute Windows NT on 150 servers with Windows 2000. CHH will use Windows 2000's built-in Active Directory to manage resources and users on the network and act as the central authority for network security.

CHH's Pat O'Connell, who is program director for the project, dubbed xpedite, says it was becoming "hugely expensive" to maintain and support the Windows NT/95 environment. New hardware couldn't operate old technology and compatibility problems were leading to fragmentation of CHH's IT infrastructure.

O'Connell says the company is spending more than NZ$5 million (US$2.5 million) on the project but the cost justification on support and manageability was relatively easy to make. The company will reduce the cost of deploying and maintaining its IT infrastructure by more than NZ$2 million each year, he says.

"We expect further significant indirect cost savings from the boost in productivity coming from technology compatibility across the company, and use of the latest office software.

"Gartner and Microsoft have studies to show that you get better productivity if you are power users of the new features in Office XP but we didn't base the business case on productivity gains."

O'Connell says key benefits from the project include dramatic reduction of support costs through standardization and central management of desktop PCs, reduction of server numbers, better data security by encryption of data on mobile systems and retention of older hardware as thin clients.

"We went with XP because we wanted to get as far ahead as we could and yet remain pretty safe. We wanted tools for remote support, deployment and better management and XP is in advance of 2000 in that respect. It gives us better control and is more configurable."

Implementation of Active Directory will be the first cab off the rank, the project starting before the end of the year.

CHH-owned IT support company Oxygen Business Solutions has begun the design and build phase of the project and expects to pilot the new OSes shortly after Christmas. Oxygen, when it was the CHH IT department, was responsible for the company's Windows NT and Windows 95 rollout and architecture. A pilot of a couple of reasonably substantial sites will start after Christmas and continue to March. The rollout will probably take until the middle of next year.

O'Connell says xpedite is part of a large program to improve CHH's IT operations and effectiveness across the board.

"This is the technology infrastructure part and there will be some applications that require upgrades which will be phase two. There are also processes and policies to put in place."

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