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The foundation, whose centres and services reach about 250,000 people every year, had been running seven NT 4.0 domains across six sites. It is now centralising its infrastructure on a single domain and expects to cut management effort by 15%-20%.
David McGregor, the charity's IT manager, said participating in Microsoft's early adopter programme was the only way it could upgrade from NT 4.0. "It was a risk we took but it was worth it. We would have had to upgrade anyway," he said.
McGregor's plan to upgrade to Windows 2000 was abandoned because of cost and lack of resources. "We can't afford consultancies so we do as much as we can ourselves," said McGregor, who only has three other IT staff.
As a participant in the programme, the charity received 20 days' consulting time from Microsoft and a further 20 days from IT consultancy Eurodata.
Eurodata provided five half-price Compaq file servers after McGregor "pleaded poverty" and sourced some Pentium 2 PCs donated by the Royal Opera House, which has helped the charity to standardise on Windows XP on the desktop.
The Windows 2003 roll-out will support the foundation's intranet, which will be on either Sharepoint Portal Services or Internet Information Server 6.0. The foundation also plans to move from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 Server to Exchange 2003. It will integrate with Active Directory to streamline administration, and is also looking at Terminal Services.
The new system will enable centralised administration while allowing instructors to handle tasks such as password problems and adding new users to the network.
The Queen Elizabeth Foundation is appealing to companies to donate Pentium III PCs and peripherals such as scanners and printers. Call 01372-841109 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org