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Can you verify software compatibility on IT systems?

If you're thinking about deploying an application software package, how do you know if it is compatible with your particular systems and hardware?

Every IT deployment is different, so you can never be guaranteed application software packages will work on your infrastructure.

Several strategies will mitigate the risks of deploying new software. The approach you choose depends on the time to invest in software-compatibility testing and the potential detrimental effects on users and the business if something goes wrong with the application.

Read and check the install requirements in the product's associated documentation first. Run through the details of your existing environment and planned application software deployment with an engineer from the product vendor to find and review any concerns. They may also share install tips or tricks that aren't in the official documentation.

Another good method is to find someone else -- via articles, blogs, user forums -- who has deployed the same application software package and learn from their experience. Find out how they installed the software and how it's working. A quick chat with a pro could save you days or weeks of work, or steer you away from a product with poor vendor support.

The most thorough way to ensure application software packages will work on your infrastructure is by testing. But even then, you can't be 100% sure everything will work. Test software compatibility at both the infrastructure and user ends. If you have the resources, run a full simulation before rebuilding or migrating across to production.

User acceptance testing (UAT) is the best method, often associated with piloting a new application or major upgrade. UAT will highlight any fundamental issues with the product or with the hosting infrastructure. The process should give users, the business and the IT team confidence to deploy a systems software tool or application software package to production.

About the author:

Adam Fowler is IT operations manager at a law firm in Australia. He's worked in IT for over a decade, including responsibilities in systems, infrastructure and operational service. He blogs about all things IT at http://www.adamfowlerit.com/.

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