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Integration: Versora Readies Software for Gradual Migration

Movin' On Up

  • August 22, 2005
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

For companies looking at adopting Linux on the desktop, Versora is now readying a new edition of its Progression Desktop software, slated to offer new "transitional" capabilities geared to giving users a chance to make the move gradually.

Targeted at release in the fourth quarter of this year, Progression 2.0 will also include a new interface for simplifying the migration process, along with peer-to-peer migration, according to Mike Sheffey, the company's CEO.

Founded by seven alumni of Miramar Software, a Windows migration software firm since acquired by Computer Associates, Versora is a "pure-play" start-up strictly dedicated to "helping people reduce their dependency on Microsoft," Sheffy said, in an interview with LinuxPlanet.

Progression Desktop 1.1, the current edition of the desktop migration product, provides migration of data, documents, desktop settings, network settings, directory structures, and application settings from Windows to Linux desktops. "We move all file types (from) within specific directories, dealing with differences in directory settings," according to the CEO.

The software also migrates e-mail, contacts, and calendar entries from Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to Novell Evolution, KMail, and Mozilla Thunderbird, and browser favorites, bookmarks, and other browser settings from Internet Explorer to Mozilla, Firefox and Konqueror.

The forthcoming 2.0, on the other hand, will add support for Linux-to-Linux as well as "Windows to Windows transitional desktops," Sheffy said.

As one example of a Windows transitional implementation, Sheffey cited migration from a Windows desktop with Microsoft Office and Outlook to a Windows desktop running OpenOffice.Org and Thunderbird or Firefox.

"You can take a 'transitional' step. You can say, 'I don't think I'm quite ready to run (a Linux OS) on the desktop, but I'd love to try out OpenOffice and Firefox,'" he maintained.

Progression Desktop migrates templates, dictionaries, and toolbars, for instance, from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.

Sheffy predicted that the "transitional" option will also prove useful to researchers who are checking into whether a Linux migration might make sense for their companies, either now or at some point in the future.

Versora's desktop migration software offers built-in for a long list of Linux distributions--Red Hat, Novell SUSE, Fedora, Debian, Mandriva, Turbolinux, Linspire, and SimplyMEPIs, for instance--along with Windows 2000, XP, NT, and 98.

The Santa Barbara, CA-based vendor tries for flexibility in other ways, too. "Wallpaper is another of the things we migrate," Sheffey illustrated. In addition, Versora recently decided to add support for KDE, for instance.

The company also produces other Linux migration software. Progession DB is for automated migration from Microsoft SQL Server to databases running MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Ingres r3. A separate product called Progression Web automates migration from Microsoft IIS Server to Linux-based Apache Web servers.

Beyond the file-based migration offered in Progression Desktop 1.1, version 2.0 will also permit peer-to-peer migration using either a crossover cable or USB, according to Sheffey.

Users will also be able to migrate to Windows applications running on Linux with products such as Codeweavers, Wine, and Win4Lin, he said. For ease of use, the product will include a new "Next-Next-Finished" wizard interface.

Alternatively, for large-scale migrations of 50 users or more, users will have the capability of fully automating migrations from the command line, enabling integration with third-party system management tools from vendors such as Novell, Red Hat, and CA.

Sheffy acknowledged, though, that right now, Europe and the Asia Pacific are way ahead of the US in terms of large-scale Linux desktop migrations.

"There's been some activity in North America, too, although big corporations usually want somebody else to be the 'guinea pigs.' Still, a number of (North American) companies who are planning Unix-to-Linux workstation migrations have told us they're targeting Linux migration of some of their Windows desktops for the same time frame," he told LinuxPlanet.

Users can also carry out customization projects to extend migration to applications not yet supported by Progression Desktop, Sheffey said.

Versora licenses the desktop migration software under an ESL (Enterprise Source License), which lets paying customers access the source code needed for making modifications.

Users can either submit the changes to Versora--for testing, certification, and repurposing--or keep the changes private. The desktop migration software is sold directly by Versora, as well as by approximately 20 partners worldwide. Base pricing is $29.00 per desktop.

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