Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 7.0 Gets Beta Tested

Microsoft released a version of its infrastructure inventory tool, the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit version 7.0, to beta testers last week.  MAP 7.0 is part of Microsoft's no-cost "solutions accelerators" family of tools, tracks infrastructure in an IT environment and delivers reports and proposals for moving to Microsoft's newer products and cutting-edge technologies.

The beta version can be downloaded here. A list of the new capabilities can be found at this Microsoft Connect page. Some of those capabilities, such as the ability to assess an IT environment's readiness to deploy SQL Server 2012 as well as private clouds, are already available in Microsoft's fully-baked MAP 6.5.4228.0 Toolkit, which was announced in March.

New capabilities in the MAP 7.0 beta include the ability to assess computing environments for migration to the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 betas. Such migrations may seem a bit premature for IT pros who may be still wrestling with the idea of moving off Windows XP. In addition, there still is uncertainty about when Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, which are still at the beta test stage, will be finalized. Microsoft has suggested that those operating systems might start to roll out sometime this fall, although no release firm dates have been disclosed for the products.

In any case, Microsoft is saying that the MAP 7.0 beta can inventory an organization's "desktop computers, deployed operating systems, and applications" and check the hardware to see if upgrades are needed to move to Windows 8 beta. It also looks at "servers, operating systems, workloads, devices and server roles" to assess Windows Server 2012 beta migrations.

Officials at Microsoft have asserted that hardware capable of running Windows 7 also will be able to run Windows 8. However, Windows 8 will be optimized for touch screens while still enabling keyboard and mouse access, which adds to the complexity.

MAP 7.0 beta also checks to see if machines running Linux operating systems or Linux-based virtual machines can be incorporated in various virtualization scenarios, according to Microsoft's "Private Cloud Fast Track" program, which is a Microsoft partner-based hardware collaboration effort. The tool tracks "computing power, network and storage architectures." Of course, the MAP 7.0 beta is also there to lend a helping hand for organizations looking to move off VMware's virtualization products.

Another new feature in the beta is the ability to check virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) readiness. The tool lets the user create "desktop workload models" and check devices for the ability to run Windows Thin PC, which is Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard 7-based operating system for VDI deployments using thin-client devices or older PCs. The tool also assesses "host capacity sizing for both Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and session-based virtualization," according to Microsoft's announcement.

License-tracking capabilities are incorporated in the MAP 7.0 beta. A new capability is the ability to check a computing environment's licensing for deploying Microsoft's Lync unified communications solution.

Microsoft is claiming that it has simplified the MAP 7.0 beta setup this time around. The main reason is that the install package now includes SQL Server Express LocalDB. The tool still works with SQL Server Express, but users don't have to worry about installing that edition of SQL Server now. The LocalDB version, which is based on SQL Server 2012, is targeted toward developers and takes away the burden of having to maintain SQL Server Express.

MAP 7.0 beta runs on newer client and server editions of Windows. However, it doesn't work on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, according to a list of system requirements. The tool may require the use two other solution accelerators to work, including the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Security Compliance Manager, per Microsoft's descriptions.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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