Have you embarked on a migration from Windows XP? If not, then you’re not alone, as 29% of organisations using Windows XP have still not migrated to a new operating system.
The key is not to panic. Windows XP migrations can be completed a lot faster than you may think and it’s not too late to start.
Drawing on his and his team of Industry Experts experience in helping organisations migrate over 800,000 PCs from Windows XP, Ambareesh Kulkarni, VP, 1E Professional Services, highlights the ten critical considerations for IT professionals who are looking to put in place an effective strategy to ensure a rapid and efficient migration.
1. Anti-malware and security software will not provide complete protection
The end of XP doesn’t need to invoke a Y2K-style panic, but it is essential to consider the potential repercussions of staying with an unsupported OS.
Beyond the issue that XP simply won’t work with some of the latest apps or software, the lack of support for XP will leave your business open to data security risks, as hackers attempt to exploit emerging vulnerabilities.
Microsoft’s extension of anti-malware support until July 2015 will be, at best, a band aid as will anti-virus safeguards and third-party patching. Microsoft itself suggests these approaches only in addition to ‘using modern software’.
In other words, you should be running a current, supported version of Windows alongside your malware and virus protection and not in lieu of it.
2. Create a “minimal disruption” migration strategy
It might sound obvious to say that you need to have a clear migration strategy before starting, but you’d be amazed at the number of companies that don’t. Put in place a plan that clarifies your approach and answers any questions from the wider business.
How long will the process take? How much will it cost? Will it impact users? Are there any risks involved? Getting end-user buy in is critical to a timely and successful migration.
3. Clarify your internal policies
Have a clear understanding of how ‘tight’ you need your systems to be. Do you want to completely ‘lock down’ your systems to allow only a centralised IT function to implement changes? What is the procedure for dealing with application download requests? How much “self-service” capabilities do you want to promote as part of the migration?
These are all questions that need answering up-front in order to understand what your eventual system setup should look like.
4. Rationalise and prioritise your applications
By far the longest and most complex activity during an OS migration is the porting of applications. There’s often not an efficient way to map the right applications during a deployment and many apps will need to be repackaged or upgraded to be compatible with the new version of Windows.
It makes no sense to spend time, money and significant effort migrating over applications that usersdon’t use, can’t use or don’t even know they have. The smart approach is to rationalise and prioritise the apps across the organisation based on accurate and trustworthy “usage” data.
Ensure you have an accurate visibility and understanding of the applications your employees use and package only those that were used and will be required going forward. IT does not have to do everything.
Trust your users! Consider a strategy where you allow users to download applications they may need from an enterprise app store, to download and install with no to minimal intervention from IT.
5. Fix infrastructure issues
Your Windows XP migration speed and success will be dictated by the state of your IT infrastructure and the systems management capabilities you have in place.
Ensure that you have a healthy PC estate, with the most current patches and security updates applied to maximise readiness for the migration to ensure an uninterrupted process.
It’s also essential to ensure your System Management infrastructure has minimal failure points and does not become the bottle neck when the deployment velocity needs to pick up (1E solutions have enabled our customers to consistently migrate > 1,500/day).
The Systems Management platform will need to have enough capacity to provide desktop management and deployment services in parallel.
6. Automate your migration as much as possible
Many companies have inefficient or manual OS deployment processes that put the onus on the IT department to ship USB drives and DVDs, schedule deployments and make desk-side visits. It costs too much, takes too long, frustrates users and pulls you away from high-value activities.
These traditional migration methods are also completely unnecessary given the technology that is now available. Automation of the OS migration process can significantly reduce completion time, overall cost and disruption to the business.
All of the tasks during an OS migration can be fully automated, so aim for 100% ‘Zero Touch Windows Migration’, where desk-side visits are minimal and the technical tasks and processes involved can run at a time that suits both you and your users.
7. Minimise network impact during the migration
Minimising disruption to the business is essential and that means reducing the impact on the network as much as possible. Ensure bandwidth capacity exists, schedule upgrades for predicted periods of minimal bandwidth use, and ensure the OS and application files required to upgrade are available locally before migrating any PCs.
8. Empower end-users
A move away from Windows XP is not just about migrating hardware and software, it’s also about giving users a new experience.
They don’t necessarily just want a new OS, but are looking for the new OS to help them do their job better and be more self-reliant, with instant access to the technologies and applications they need to do their jobs.
Empower the user to be part of your migration process. Give them the capability to schedule their own migration at a time that suits them, so their productivity is unaffected.
Post-migration, give them access to a self-service app store, from where they can download or request applications without having to involve the IT department in the approval or installation process.
9. Make coming late to the party an advantage
There can be some advantages to letting so many other companies migrate before you. They’ve learned the hard lessons about large-scale application and OS migration, which means you don’t have to.
Most will have never experienced a migration before and will have come across a range of issues they didn’t anticipate and have never encountered before, from application mapping to “gotchas” around device drivers.
Learn from other IT managers about their experience and speak to companies that are actively helping other organisations through the complexity of a migration, to ensure you adopt a best practice approach.
10. Understand that you’re going to be doing this again and soon…
Microsoft is ramping up the speed with which it releases new versions of its OS. The announcement of Windows 9 happened at a point when many companies hadn’t even migrated to Windows 7 or 8.
With these OS migrations becoming an annual event, you can no longer afford to slug out a migration over a number of months or even years.
Use your Windows XP migration as an opportunity to transform the way you manage applications and deliver software to your end users.
Invest in robust, automated and fault-tolerant processes that become ‘business as usual’ operations to maximise the efficiency of IT right across your organisation.