NAB's XP rollout on track

National claims XP rollout on track

The National Australia Bank will complete the rollout of a managed desktop environment based on Windows XP to its retail branches by the end of the month, with the corporate office migration to be finished by July.

NAB is consolidating around five different desktop operating platforms (including Windows NT, which Microsoft no longer supports), into a single platform supported by Telstra and its Kaz IT services subsidiary. The migration, which began last year, will eventually touch all of the bank's 30,000-odd desktops, and see some 700 applications integrated into the new environment.

"All of our retail network will be completed by the end of this month," a spokesperson for the bank told ZDNet Australia yesterday. "We're currently converting a thousand desktops per week."

The spokesperson acknowledged early pilot migrations had uncovered a number of issues with the XP implementation, but denied reports last year that the problems had caused it to push back the rollout's deadline.

"You do pilots for the purposes of finding bugs, and we certainly found some bugs," they said, noting the bank's IT environment was convoluted due to a turbulent recent business history which has included a major re-working of its structure and the acquisition of financial giant MLC in 2000.

"It was an extremely complicated environment that we had here," the spokesperson said.

"The deadline for completion was always towards the middle to the end of the middle of 2007," they said. "So in the first or second quarter of the calendar year. So it's not actually correct to say that the timing has been pushed back."

"We expect to be completed on time, in the first half of this year."

NAB has also experienced some turmoil during the deployment phase of the project, although these problems were environmental rather than the normal technical ones that can be factored in during planning.

"For example, there were floods in North Queensland, so people were taking ferries to deploy," the spokesperson said. "There were fires in the north of Sydney. We had cyclones in Western Australia."

"So the deployment team's a very determined bunch, who have literally gone through fire, flood and hail to get the deployment to happen. I'm sure that a lot of IT staff who've done deployments will appreciate this!"

Many large organisations are currently evaluating the successor to Windows XP, Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, which was released to businesses in November last year. However, the spokesperson said NAB's focus was currently on getting the migration right to a single managed environment based on XP.

The National's XP journey has also seen some hardware and network upgrades take place to support the new environment, however, the spokesperson was not able to comment further on those aspects of the project.

In June 2006, NAB awarded Acer a contract to supply up to 20,000 desktops and notebooks as part of the XP migration.