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How to Plan Your Deployment Strategy in Preparation for Windows 10 and A New Era of Personal Computing

Article Written by Eric Webster, Chief Revenue Officer at Accelerite

This summer, Microsoft will roll out Windows 10, which represents a shift in strategy by offering constant operating system (OS) updates, and a Windows as a Service model to which organizations will have to adjust.

Microsoft customers will also start to wave goodbye to Internet Explorer on January 12, 2016, replacing it with a new browser, Microsoft Edge (formerly Project Spartan). With all these tectonic changes afoot, it's time to start gauging the impact to your organization, and strategize how to best make the transition these changes will force.

On the enterprise side, Windows 7 is the current standard. With support expiring in 2020, Microsoft is aggressively working to put Windows 10 on over a billion devices within 2 - 3 years after its release. One industry analyst predicts that about 400 million devices will be on Windows 10 in 12-18 months after the OS's availability. The expectation is that the majority of existing Windows 8/8.1 machines will upgrade to Windows 10 due to the expected improvements made to address the usability complaints that surfaced around Windows 8/8.1. There will be some Windows 7 upgrades included in Windows 10, but not on the same scale as those from Windows 8/8.1.

Rethinking Windows for Your Endpoint Management Strategy

Microsoft Windows 10 will have six editions (Home, Pro, Mobile, Enterprise, Mobile Enterprise, Education). Moreover, Windows OS will be offered as a service with its subscription model that includes consistent updates to the OS, which means IT must prepare for a substantial shift in the way they manage these updates.

Suddenly, IT must radically change their approach to Windows updates.  As opposed to upgrading most corporate-issued PCs every 3-5 years with a large team of IT support personnel, the Windows as a Service model will require IT to create and support processes that manage the constant updates Microsoft is rolling out in the cloud.

The Impact on the Organization: Business Vs. Technical

Organizations should assess how this will impact them from both a business and technical standpoint.  With the new subscription model, businesses will need to adjust from a CapEx approach to an OpEx one, putting a strain on organizations at first. Larger enterprises will be challenged to move to a budgeting process that can reconcile IT support and licensing costs that spreads out over a period of time, in contrast to the predictability of budgeting upfront.

On the technical side of things, IT teams need to ready themselves for the more frequent, and somewhat less predictable, approach of OS as a service.  To be successful, IT has to be able to acquire more frequently updated information about the status of PCs, applications, and users to ensure smoother and predictable updates to Windows. Another concern is that the frequency of updates to the OS will likely mean more applications fall out of sync or become broken, creating incompatibility and increasing the number of support cases.

On top of all this, IT staff must also grapple with other devices that will sport the latest Windows 10 and other popular OSs. The mix of corporate-issued devices versus BYOD, and Windows versus Mac/iOS/Android/Linux devices will complicate IT's picture of the digital endpoints across the corporate IT ecosystem.

Considerations for Migration to Microsoft's Edge browser

Once IE versions drop off the support list, Microsoft will discontinue technical support and security updates. Most end users are oblivious to end of support policies for applications like a web browser, so it's absolutely essential for IT administrators take a proactive approach in managing this lifecycle.

Some Keys to Be Successful in Migrating to the New OS and Web Brower

Successfully deploying Windows 10 and/or Microsoft Edge will necessitate that enterprises really sharpen their visibility of what hardware, OS, and applications are running on existing devices. For a smooth transition, organizations need to get a holistic view of all the endpoints, corporate-issued or BYOD, audit these endpoints, and then make sure they are properly supported and updated to prevent any security lapses.

It's possible that some endpoints will not be able to support the upgrade to the new OS, as older devices may lack the necessary hardware to support the system requirements. IT needs to clearly identify these non-upgradeable devices and have them decommisioned to prevent security risk. 

With the rapidly expanding number and diversity of devices in the enterprise, pushing constant updates across these various devices and platforms through a sprawling array of management tools presents either a mild headache or a nightmare for IT. This represents another use case, and reason for the convergence to, a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution and strategy. Rather than using different tools to manage endpoint lifecycles across different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) and device types (servers, PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc.), a unified endpoint management platform can dramatically reduce the IT overhead, synchronize updates, and improve compliance across the enterprise.

The third capability that organizations should look for is automation. Again, this potentially becomes much easier to achieve the more unified the endpoint management approach. Higher levels of automation will help improve the consistency and success of updates, while reducing manual errors and IT workload. 

By focusing on comprehensive visibility of endpoints, consolidation/unification of endpoint management, and increasing automation, IT can poise the organization to successfully steer the move to the new Windows OS, while ensuring the organization benefits from the new productivity enhancements represented by Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge.

About the Author

Eric Webster is the Chief Revenue Officer at Accelerite, a provider of software, mobile, and cloud solutions to some of largest enterprises in the world. Before the formation of Accelerite by Persistent Systems, Eric was brought to Persistent through a successful acquisition of Doyenz.
Published Friday, July 10, 2015 6:54 AM by David Marshall
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