Jason Bovberg (of WindowsITPro fame) recently wrote a blog article entitled “Prepare for your migration to Windows 7 (and then Windows 8!)” in which he references quite a few best practices to review before an Operation System (OS) migration and it got me thinking…
“Why, after 11 years of release, are people still on Windows XP?”
Indeed industry analysts have noted that even up to 12 months ago only 15% of desktop PCs were running Windows 7, however with the end of Windows XP support scheduled for April 2014, the rate of migration to Win7 has been accelerating but is it enough?
Understandably people skipped Vista due to the lack of x64 bit drivers, its reputation for being slow, the UI (User Interface) change and, the one that annoyed most people, the heightened security with the constantly nagging UAC (User Access Control) prompts.
Whilst the changes were a step in the right direction (especially the security concepts), it was implemented poorly creating a bad user experience. This stopped people getting on the Vista bandwagon and Vista never took off.
The developers of Windows 7 considered all Vista’s bad points, learnt from its mistakes and improved upon the design to create a solid OS that has received a highly positive feedback from the technical community.
So what’s so bad about Windows 7?
There are numerous benefits to Windows 7 such as speed, features and compatibility. The fact that Windows XP is going end-of-life with support ending in April 2014 should be even more reason for businesses to migrate to the Windows 7 but there’s something blocking these organizations from taking that vital step.
Paul Thurrott (also from WindowsITPro) wrote a pretty good article titled “Windows 7 Enterprise Deployments: Glass Half Full or Glass Half Empty” in which he wrote that Microsoft’s Tami Reller announced “Today, as we sit here, more than 50 percent of enterprise desktops are running Windows 7”. This was at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference and was an important milestone they had achieved.
If that’s 50 percent of enterprise desktops running Windows 7 then maybe it appears that organizations are overcoming these blockers? This is possibly further from the truth. It’s most likely that the 50 percent, as Paul advises in his article, are the ones who are small to medium organizations. They don’t have too much blocking them in order to migrate across. The downtime, effort, project and budget isn’t so large that it doesn’t prevent them from moving to Windows 7.
So what’s stopping the migration to Windows 7?
There seems to be a consensus that the larger organizations are the ones that are having difficulty migrating due to line of business applications not being compatible for browser or the Windows 7 OS, they do not have the expertise or budget or time. They don’t have the automation in place, they have a lot of user data and applications they need to migrate and they don’t have the infrastructure to handle the migration. I could go on. They all say the same thing:
The project is too complex, too lengthy and will be too costly. The cons simply outweigh the pros.
Whilst people agree that Windows 7 may be as good as Windows XP and in many cases better (again, especially the security side of things), there was never enough in the OS to compel organizations to trudge through the horrible minefield that they call an “OS migration project” in order to migrate to an OS that is “just a bit better”.
As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Is this the way we should be treating our OS migrations? Should we really be updating our OS on our clients when we’re forced to? What if OS migrations were not such mammoth projects that need to be undertaken costing huge sums of money? What if OS migrations were as simple as pushing out a package in System Center Configuration Manager? What if OS migrations could be done in a “business as usual” fashion? What if OS migrations didn’t involve dedicated project teams?
So what’s the “business as usual” approach to migrating to Windows 7?
Business as usual is the approach where the event (OS migration) shouldn’t be a project. It should be done as part of your day-to-day activities. It should be done without having to reassign valuable resources for large duration in order to achieve your goals (again, your OS migrations).
The type of results you can expect from a “business as usual” approach is not only faster deployments, such as completing a Windows 7 migration of 39,000 systems in just a single month, which benefits in a shorter project and less budget required, but also user satisfaction and no headache for your IT professionals.
So how can this business as usual approach to migration be achieved?
Automation. This will take a large burden off your IT professionals. The more you can automate, the less they will have to do in order to make sure the migration process goes smoothly. Whilst it may take a short outlay of your IT professionals in terms of time and expertise to get this automation in place, the cost of this will far outweigh the cost of your whole OS migration project.
With 1E’s Nomad 2012, you can reduce the duration of your OS migrations and achieve the highest level of automation. You can also easily migrate user data without having to transfer data across the WAN using its peer backup assistance feature.
1E’s approach is to provide 100% automation on 90% of the estate which is significantly more powerful that 90% automation on an entire estate. This is because the 90% success would always involve 100% desk side visits and other mitigation, which is where time and cost creeps into the project. 100% automation means a desk-side visit is not required in the majority of cases and many more machines can be migrated at the same time.
Empowering your users. This will again take a large burden off your IT professionals as well as reduce the downtime in productivity for your users. If you have the automation in place and you give your users the ability to schedule their own migrations, you don’t need to worry about interrupting either your IT professionals to initiate the OS migration or your users during their workday.
With 1E’s Shopping, you can empower your users to select the applications they wish to have reinstalled on their OS as well as schedule when the OS migration would best suit them. This leads to less frustration and less surprise to the end user as they will feel as they have some control over what happens to their machine.
Whilst these are only a few points that can help you achieve your “business as usual” approach to OS migrations, 1E can help discuss any other facets of your Windows 7 migration and can help you overcome any challenges you may come across.