Free MAP 6.0 upgrade includes cloud options

Microsoft has released its updated Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 6.0 (MAP 6.0).

The next iteration of the free planning tool for IT pros was embellished with extra cloud assessment capabilities and can be downloaded here. The toolkit requires Windows Server 2003 and Window XP, at minimum, to run. This general release followed quickly from the beta test version, which was rolled out late last month.

MAP 6.0 now includes the ability to assess if a computing environment is ready to migrate to Office 365, which is Microsoft's global public suite of services launched last month. The toolkit will assess whether an organization's PCs running Microsoft Office have the hardware and software requirements to tap into Office 365 services. Microsoft has previously said that Office 365 will work with Office 2010, Office 2007, Office for Mac 2011 and Office for Mac 2008.

The toolkit also can provide an assessment about an organization's ability to move to Windows Azure, which is Microsoft's cloud computing platform. The toolkit starts by cataloging an organization's applications. It then estimates the Windows Azure capacity that would be required to run them. It also tracks possible migration difficulties and provides return-on-investment and cost analyses.

Another new capability in MAP 6.0 is a "Hyper-V cloud fast track" assessment that estimates deployment possibilities using Microsoft's hypervisor technology. The tool will estimate a computing environment's "computing power, network and storage architectures" for Hyper-V readiness, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft expanded the inventory capability of the new toolkit to check for VMware products, including VMware Server, vSphere and vCenter. It will also check to see if Microsoft stack software is running on VMware guests, such as Exchange, SharePoint and SQL Server.

MAP 6.0 adds a new ability to assess Internet Explorer 9 migrations on top of Windows 7 migrations. The toolkit will track all of the browsers installed in a computing environment. It also will catalog the use of add-ons and ActiveX controls in browsers.

Finally, the new toolkit offers advice on how to move away from MySQL, Oracle and Sybase relational database management systems. It will suggest how to move to Microsoft's SQL Server system instead. According to Microsoft's announcement, "Organizations can use this information to determine the total cost of ownership in maintaining Oracle and the potential ROI from switching to SQL Server."

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