IT managers who have not yet planned their migration from XP need to start doing so – in my view – as a matter of urgency.
I have read that potentially over half of businesses have no plans to ditch the ageing OS any time soon. But failure to leave sufficient time to make the change could result in serious security and compliance issues.
From 8 April 2014, Microsoft will stop providing free support, including updates and fixes.
When it comes to moving away from XP, IT departments are mainly concerned about the timescale and cost of migration.
Many have already realised they just don't have the time or, often, the budget needed. Asking for further support from Microsoft past the cut-off date will likely be extremely expensive.
Customers will be asking for ways to accelerate these tasks with minimal impact on and risk to the business.
This has given the channel a fantastic opportunity, as partner organisations are in the perfect position to address all of the issues that arise around migration and provide consultation accordingly.
We naturally see desktop transformation as a great way for moving existing hardware from Windows XP to Windows 7, so we see the demise of support for Windows XP as a great way for our channel partners to consult on an appropriate desktop management strategy.
The channel holds a huge amount of specialist migration capabilities that typically don't reside in-house. For the channel partners with these skills, now is the time to shine, whether these skills include application discovery, rationalisation or migration.
They could even include innovative use of virtualisation technologies to greatly reduce migration timescales of migration.
Standard tools for Windows 7 migration are tricky and require users to back up all their data, perform a clean installation of Windows and then restore their data and reinstall their applications.
Using a desktop transformation offering to manage the migration process ensures that Windows 7 can be deployed centrally across virtual and remote desktops without added infrastructure costs, maintaining and backing-up all files, applications and personal data and minimising user downtime, while at the same time delivering a consistent and secure end-user experience from any device.
With a centralised and virtualised approach to migration, the time spent on manual migration tasks is greatly reduced, accelerating the migration project, while reducing IT costs.
Those partners taking the end of support for Windows 7 as the opportunity it is could really benefit over the next couple of months. But, however a partner decides to help their customer's approach to a Windows 7 migration, we recommend the following for a successful migration:
• Automate the migration process. Eliminating manual processes will make migration quicker, more efficient and will cost less, particularly in terms of IT labour.
• Manage the migration centrally. This will enable a rapid roll-out of the new operating system across all devices, including remote users.
• Ensure back-up of all data. Being able to take a full snapshot of your existing Windows XP system before the migration begins means users can be quickly restored to their previous system, should a failure occur during the migration.
• Get rid of duplications. Ensure you have a solution that can eliminate unnecessary duplications while protecting the latest applications.
• Minimise end-user downtime. If the migration needs to take place during working hours, ensure user downtime does not exceed more than around 30 minutes.
• App remediation. Microsoft will no longer automatically update your existing apps, which means they are more liable to security threats and issues, which will be costly in the long term.
There are several XP applications that cannot be migrated to Windows 7, so we therefore recommend virtualising all applications using ThinApp virtualisation software so they can be ported across.
Ed Dolman is UK and Ireland head of channel at VMware
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