It’s time for migration talks again

If your organization is still licking its wounds from your migration to Windows 7, you aren’t alone. Although excitement for Windows 10 is growing, many organizations aren’t in a position to step into migration planning mode just yet – and we don’t blame you. We’ve spoken to countless IT departments that humbly admit their move from XP was over budget and a much longer, more complex project than anticipated. Resting on the idea that for now, January 2020 (end of life for Windows 7) seems like a safe distance away.

For Some, Windows 10 Can’t Come Soon Enough

On the other end of the spectrum, we already have customers chomping at the bit, eager to get Windows 10 into their environments. While there are still a lot of unknowns, Microsoft has revealed some aspects of Windows 10 that enterprises find attractive like:

  • General user interface improvements, including the return of the, much missed, redesigned, start menu
  • Universal applications that promise to improve support for mobility with apps designed to work across Windows PCs, tablets and phones
  • Fewer compatibility issues to deal with during the migration itself
  • More consumer-like options for the enterprise like Cortana (Microsoft’s version of Siri) and Windows Hello (facial recognition and fingerprinting)

Business as Usual…Not

Windows 10 logoBut then there are some scary things. Not American Horror Story scary, more like “different than the way we do things today” scary. For starters, Windows 10 fundamentally presents a different way of approaching how devices, applications and security are handled. While adopting some changes will be optional, others simply won’t be, and enterprises will need to adjust.

Another major [read: scary] change is the upgrade cadence promised by Microsoft. The good news is that Microsoft has declared that this will be the last major organization-wide migration…ever. The bad news is that most organizations aren’t set up today to handle the new model: a continual stream of evolutionary updates to an operating system. Hiccups in this area are to be expected. Not to mention, these hiccups could cause major disruption to the workforce relying on their Windows devices to be productive.

Get Prepared Now to Make It Easier Later

Now that I’ve highlighted some of the good and not so great, I’d like to share some of the things our customers are doing today, regardless of the Windows 10 timeframe, to put themselves in a strong position to handle the new OS.

Investing in workspace management: While workspace management often gets paired with a major desktop initiative (such as operating system migrations, desktop virtualization, etc.), it adds the most value when implemented ahead of a major technology change. That’s because once user settings, data, configuration and personalization are separated from the underlying OS and delivery platforms, changes to the OS and delivery platforms – whether large or small – are then much simpler and far less disruptive for workers. Workspace management can allow for slow-paced migrations if necessary – that way the transition isn’t so harsh for workers, and worker productivity is much less at risk.

Also, if workers need to roam across different operating systems to access different apps or services, they will maintain a consistent user experience. In other words, deploying workspace management today will not only get you the context aware security, cost savings and user experience benefits that we expect, faster, but it will also ease upcoming migrations and improve the user experience during a hybrid transition period.

Automating the tasks that drain hours each week (or day): We’re shocked to learn how many organizations still manually handle a lot of day-to-day repetitive tasks. Not only do these carry tons of time, money and risk of human error;  but in most cases, they keep IT from spending time on the projects that can bring real business value (like executing a seamless OS migration, for instance). Think automation, not scripts – and certainly not manual effort.  

Implementing self-service for the top services or apps: Often it’s just a handful of tedious requests or issues that really bog down the service desk the most. In many cases, these are an easy fix (new app requests and changes, password resets, data access, etc.), but they wind up in a queue, causing workers to grow frustrated. However, with automated self-service, people can get the apps and services they need to be productive instantly and 24/7. IT can leverage self-service to allow people to remediate known issues as well. The result is a more empowered workforce and IT’s ability to deliver on more business needs.

Improve Productivity While Maintaining Quality and Security

Paired together, these elements can better position enterprises to handle the new, fear-conjuring upgrade model in Windows 10. IT departments can easily test updates, automate their execution and even create a self-service mechanism, so workers can initiate the (tested and approved) updates when it will be least disruptive to their productivity. Improving productivity, while making sure that the workforce has the latest and most secure OS version running. We expect a lot of customers to leverage this technology for improving their upgrade processes.

Alas, for Windows 10, we have no choice but to sit and wait until the GA – definitely this summer, likely, late July. But enterprises can start preparing today and put themselves in a position to have a smoother and much less painful OS migration than the last. For more on Windows 10 features, pricing and other Microsoft sneak peaks, check out this article from Tech Radar.