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Ivanti 2018 Predictions: Windows 10 Comes of Age in 2018 as IT Faces a Hybrid World

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Simon Townsend, EMEA Chief Technologist, Ivanti

Windows 10 Comes of Age in 2018 as IT Faces a Hybrid World

The year 2018 will see Windows 10 coming of age, moving from the planning stage for many organizations, to actual deployment.  Organizations spent much of 2017 trying to understand the minefield of updates, multiple deployment rings, and what Microsoft would and would not support, and for how long.  Keeping enterprises in the constant state of migration, Microsoft also released another two versions of their "Windows as a Service" OS.

Going into 2018 more organizations have a better understanding of how they will deploy and manage Windows 10 and the cadence of updates.  They are finding out, however, that Windows 10 knowledge is becoming even more imperative as Windows 10 machine purchases are increasing while Windows 7 available machine stock is heading towards non-existence. New hardware which now only supports Windows 10 is coming into the enterprise and IT has to deal with Windows 10 migrations as part of business as usual.

With legacy Windows 7 machines diminishing, and more Windows 10 machines coming in, IT has no choice but to support a hybrid world of operating system environments. 

Windows 10 Migration Support

Expect to see Microsoft directly work with more customers during 2018 to help with Windows 10 migration.  Meanwhile, value added resellers and partners across the globe are now ramping up to accommodate a larger deployment at scale in 2018. They will be providing managed service support to assist their customers with the planning and deployment of Windows 10.  The channel will also be offering technologies which help IT move users from 7 to 10, and from 10 onwards.

For some organizations there will be a desire to move quickly - deploying the very latest version of Windows 10 as early as possible. Experience to date shows, however, that organizations need to test and pilot the latest semi-annual releases before they go broad deployment due to incompatible 3rd party products and applications.

The question for 2018 is: will Microsoft again change its stance on how quickly organizations have to deploy and maintain each version? The feedback from customers is that the 18-month support timeframe, and bi-annual release is overwhelming IT teams in some enterprises.

Hybrid Headaches

Besides the challenges of managing a hybrid OS environment, IT will also be contending with an increasingly diverse approach to the desktop.  2018 won't be the year of VDI. It won't be the year of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) either. Sure, they may grow in usage, but at the same time, Windows traditional desktops are making a comeback.  Just face it.  It will be a hybrid world with a heterogeneous mix of desktop delivery platforms. For sure, more Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and VDI desktops will move to the cloud, either as primary datacenter or as backup.  Ultimately, however, the focus will be on delivering more applications and data to a desktop.  Exactly how these are delivered will be a secondary consideration.

Consolidation is an Antidote

As IT manages an increasingly hybrid environment, another operational challenge is getting more attention:  that is the need to more efficiently manage end user computing.  We have talked for some years how the number of devices per user has been growing, but with an increase in applications, platforms and the sheer number of OS and application updates, managing varying platforms using various toolsets from multiple vendors is becoming a bottleneck and costly experience for IT.

Managing windows desktops separately to the VDI desktops, and managing MAC's separately to mobile devices, for example, has to evolve and become easier and more cost effective.  Organizations are now deploying unified endpoint management toolsets that provide a means of better managing users, regardless of the device they use.  It's part of the movement toward consolidation:  we see more organizations reducing the number of vendors and technologies they use to manage their user estate.

This consolidation doesn't just stop with managing end user computing either. Service management, IT asset management, endpoint security, networking and reporting are also areas where technology reduction needs to take place.  In the security space, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors and different technologies. For every technology and additional vendor there is another license, another console, another training course. This places more pressure on IT management.

To remain successful, vendors across all technology platforms need to either provide more than just a point solution, or focus on integration, API support, and 3rd party platform compatibility.

Endpoint Security needs a Refresh

While IT faces hybrid and end user management challenges, we know 2018 will also be the year of more devastating cyberattacks.  Endpoint prevention must become mandatory and it's not just the security teams who need to listen.  The user and their endpoint is one of the weakest links and the environment that needs preventative controls.   Teams across functional areas have to take more responsibility for security.  The responsibility of patching and application control, for example, is shifting to Windows engineering or end user computing teams. Even those who deploy VDI and RDSH have to step up and appreciate that security is their responsibility too. 

Patching itself will continue to evolve.  The need to patch and continually assess both the user workspace and datacenter for known vulnerabilities is hopefully now well understood by most and many now realize that utilizing System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and/or only patching Microsoft OS/Apps is no longer good enough.  The patching "window" is also reducing, and based on various recommendations and/or mandates across the globe, organizations need to patch far quicker and look at additional layered preventative controls.

The key to success will be balancing user experience with the time to implement and maintain an effective security posture. As 2018 continues, those technologies and methods which integrate, allow self-service, and operationalize security will be the ones that succeed.  Education of users will continue to take some IT budget too - assisting users in recognizing phishing attacks and spoof emails is an important layer in this layered approach to prevention.

The Changing Face of IT

Hybrid environments.  Escalating endpoint security threats.  IT has a lot on its plate.  The upside is, this is the perfect time to elevate IT's role in the organization.  Digital transformation, everyone's favorite buzz word of 2017, is a good place to start.  Organizations and IT are beginning to realize they need to work closer together and that IT can actually help drive initiatives such as digital transformation, not just support it.  We firmly believe digital transformation goes far beyond the latest technology.  The way to get to a digital business successfully is to focus on people, budgets and processes, not just technology.

Executives do play their part here.  CIO's need to self-elevate and be more aligned with the business, CSO's need to be less siloed, and IT needs money and time assigned to innovation, and less on what the industry refers to as Mode 1 IT, focused on stability and legacy systems management.

To give IT time and money to innovate will mean employing automation, AI, chatbots, self-service  and other technologies to make management more efficient. Could Windows migrations become a self-service task? Should patching take weeks per month to complete?  Does the "support desk" really need people on the support desk?

By freeing up IT time, and it becoming less of a support function, IT can devote more resources to help drive the business and successfully implement new initiatives.

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About the Author

Simon Townsend 

Simon Townsend is the Chief Technologist EMEA for Ivanti and an expert in endpoint management and security. 

Published Friday, December 29, 2017 7:43 AM by David Marshall
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