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Five Key Considerations Before Starting Your Windows XP Migration

by: Betty Junod, Director Product Marketing

If your organization still needs to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, you are not alone. According to a recent study commissioned by VMware that surveyed 322 desktop IT professionals globally

  • 64 percent of enterprise companies still need to migrate off of Win XP
  • 52 percent of mid-sized companies still need to migrate off of Win XP
  • 61 percent of SMBs still need to migrate off of Win XP

If you are starting to feel stress as we move closer and closer to the Win XP support expiration date of April 8, 2014, rest assured that there is an easy way to tackle a company-wide OS migration project.

Migration and migraine do not have to go hand-in-hand as long as you take the time to prepare and use the right software tools to simplify and speed up the process.

Common challenges such as end-user downtime, data loss, migration failures and effort to upgrade remote employees can all be avoided if you plan ahead. To help guide you along the way, here are five key considerations to think about as you start to tackle this project.

What does success look like? Moving all users to a new OS isn’t the only measurement of success. Consider what is important with your migration plans to help you measure and prioritize.  Are you most concerned with how quickly you can complete a migration, cost of the project or the impact to productivity as in minimal downtime.

Know your landscape to help your migration planning. 

  • What devices are out there today and how is that changing?  Macs and BYOD really change how IT organizations need to think about delivering and managing corporate Windows systems.  Also many older PCs cannot run Windows 7 so an audit will help you understand if you need new hardware
  • Understand your application landscape:  Application compatibility can be a barrier to OS migration projects.  Do you know what applications will or will not work on the new operating system and what is the amount of work required to remediate them? Application virtualization can help package and isolate some of those applications.  Also running apps that require XP inside of a secure VDI session helps to reduce the XP impact while supporting your business app while you remediate.
  • Who is impacted by this change and where are they?  Have any users been updated already and of those remaining are there any logical ways to group the end-users either by location or types of apps they are using to help you stage your project.   For employees at remote sites, what sort of network bandwidth and local IT support do they have?

Consider the upgrade approach.  Traditionally there have been just two methods; in-place migration on the same hardware or hardware refresh.  However, virtualization and image layering technologies allow new ways of deploying the Windows 7 image and applications to your end-users.  If your device landscape is changing, this may be the right time to consider something different.

A system change like Windows 7 presents an opportunity to re-evaluate how your organization delivers Windows-based systems to the workforce and modernize its desktop strategy.  Combined with the massive changes in end-user computing with device and platform diversity, bring your own tech policies and increasing mobility are changing the way IT thinks about delivering services.

Virtualization and image layering are modern strategies that offer added flexibility in an increasingly complex tech landscape to easily segregate between personal and corporate services, enable corporate standardization, while quickening the pace of delivery and reducing the cost of desktop support.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allows you to deliver those desktops in the data center to allow roaming access to the same desktop from any type of device regardless of platform.  VDI allows for tablets, phones, thin clients and computers to interact with a desktop without the hardware centric restrictions and thus extends Windows desktops and applications to new locations.   IT organizations can seamlessly deploy, update and patch virtual desktops without any impact to the endpoint devices.

Conversely image layering and local desktop virtualization  allows for the image to execute locally but inside of a virtual machine.  Because the image is managed in layers, IT can selectively update the base OS layer to Windows 7 for in place migration or selectively migrate the end-user personalization to a new Windows 7 endpoint.  This option allows for an employee or company owned computer to have the Windows image running inside a virtual machine isolated from the native system and unlike VDI, the system runs locally so is also available offline.

So where are you in your migration process? What approach did you choose or plan to choose?

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