Testing and piloting

Before rolling out your deployment project, you need to test it for functionality in a controlled environment. Before you begin testing your deployment project, create a test plan that describes the tests you will run, who will run each test, a schedule for performing tests, and the expected results . The test plan must specify the criteria and priority for each test . Prioritizing your tests can help you avoid slowing down your deployment because of minor failures that you can easily correct later; it can also help you identify larger problems that might require redesigning your plan.

The testing phase is essential because a single error can be replicated to all computers in your environment if it is not corrected before you deploy the image . Create a test lab that is not connected to your network but that mirrors your organization's network and hardware configurations as closely as possible . Set up your hardware, software, and network services as they are in your production environment Perform comprehensive testing on each hardware platform, testing both application installation and operation These steps can greatly increase the confidence of the project teams and the business-decision makers, resulting in a higher-quality deployment.

Microsoft recommends that you pilot the project (that is, roll out the deployment) to a small group of users after you test the project . Piloting the installation allows you to assess the success of the deployment project in a production environment before rolling it out to all users. The primary purpose of pilot projects is not to test Windows 7, but to get user feedback. This feedback will help to determine the features that you must enable or disable in Windows 7. For pilots, you might choose a user population that represents a cross-section of your business in terms of job function and computer proficiency. Install pilot systems by using the same method that you plan to use for the final rollout .

The pilot process provides a small-scale test of the eventual full-scale rollout: You can use the results of the pilot, including any problems encountered, to create your final rollout plan . Compile the pilot results and use the data to estimate upgrade times, the number of concurrent upgrades you can sustain, and peak loads on the user-support functions .

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