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MVP Adin Ermie on Microsoft's Upgrade Readiness for Windows 10

Enterprise Endpoint Experts (E³): Adin Ermie

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MVP Adin Ermie on Microsoft’s Upgrade Readiness for Windows 10

MVP Adin Ermie tells you everything you need to know about Microsoft’s Upgrade Readiness (formerly Upgrade Analytics), which went GA March 3, 2017. What is it? How does it work? What can it do?
Can you use SCCM — or other on-premises tools — to do the same thing? Would you want to? And much more… Plus, what cell phone does Adin use?!

Bill

Hello and welcome to the Enterprise Endpoint Experts Podcast. I’m your host, Bill Bernat and with us today is Adin Ermie. Hi Adin, welcome to the E3 podcast.

Adin

Hi, thanks for having me.

Bill

Thanks so much for joining us today. You are a three-time MVP, and you can explain to us, in Cloud and Datacenter management, correct?

Adin

Yes, that’s correct.

Bill

I was just going to say, when you first got, we’ll get to what you specialize in in a sec, when you first got your MVP, when you got that first day where they were like, oh yeah you’re an MVP now, was that pretty exciting for you?

Adin

Yes, absolutely. I remember getting the email January 1st, and at first I thought it was maybe a joke or something. I didn’t quite believe it at first. I’m like is this really happening because I had worked a long time to try to get that, and I thought I didn’t achieve that award. So it was exciting to get that for sure.

Bill

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. You were going to tell me what your areas of specialization are.

Adin

Yeah, so I specialize in the infrastructure and datacenter technologies. So within that cloud and datacenter management space, I work with technologies like System Center, a lot of Azure work, Operations Management Suite and the BCPR tools like ASR and Backup.

Bill

Great. And so our topic today is Upgrade Readiness. We’re talking about for an enterprise or in some cases, a smaller company, looking to migrate a whole mess of computers to Windows 10. Microsoft has this service previously called Upgrade Analytics, now called Upgrade Readiness. So let’s go ahead and talk about this technology.
For starters, when Upgrade Analytics was released, before it was called Upgrade Readiness, when was it released and then when was it turned into the new Upgrade Readiness version?

Adin

Right, so the original public preview of Upgrade Analytics was released on July 22, 2016, and then just about 7 months or so later, on March 3, 2017, Microsoft released the solution as they term, General Availability, or GA, but when they did that they rebranded it as Upgrade Readiness. And I believe they done that to avoid any confusion with the other update, upgrade type of solutions that are already existing.

Bill

Yeah, I think they use that word a lot. So it was never actually released. It only just became GA now, this March. Before that, it’s been in a preview, public preview space.

Adin

Right. Yeah, in a public preview space.

Bill

Okay so let’s talk about what exactly [3:00] is going on here. There’s various components, and you can help isolate this for those of us who aren’t super technical on the details here. They’ve replaced the functionality and the application compatibility tool kit with Upgrade Analytics. So ACT is still available or it’s not available?

Adin

So, it’s true. Microsoft did replace the majority of the functionality that we find in the ACT tool, the Application Compatibility Toolkit, with Upgrade Analytics. But the independent ACT toolkit itself is actually no longer being actively supported by Microsoft. When you go to that website to get a copy of that toolkit you’re actually directed to use the Windows Assessment and Deployment toolkit or know as the ADK for Windows 10. And within that ADK, we now have a tool called Compatibility Administrator. So we can use a similar toolkit, but really expect the OMS Upgrade Analytics solution to be updated and enhanced more frequently than these other toolkits.

Bill

Okay, so there is now Compatibility Administrator in the ADK. So what was the ACT, and what did it do? And then let’s talk about what features of that are kept or lost in this Compatibility Administrator, and then after you’ve answered those, I’ll ask you the same thing about Upgrade Readiness. Let’s just look at the ACT toolkit and the Compatibility Administrator in the ADK. Are they very different?

Adin

Sure. So the ACT toolkit was really a tool designed to help identify and manage applications, reduce the cost of time involved in resolving compatibility issues. It would allow to effectively identify the applications that were possibly incompatible with a newer version of Windows. So think of it like migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7. Now you asked about the functionality and what may or may not be there. That’s also a good question. Most of the functionality is now built into this OMS solution, and I haven’t really seen any big, glaring omissions with Upgrade Readiness. Again, going back to the previous comments. Expect the OMS solution to really continue to be enhanced and improved on faster rate.

Bill

Right, but I’m trying to sense too for the people who are maybe going to want to stay entirely on premise, this Compatibility Administrator in the ADK will contain basically the same functionality or is it going to be a subset?

Adin

Right, no, it will be the same functionality. [6:00] Instead of maintaining multiple toolkits and systems that people could use, Microsoft is effectively taking all these components and put them into a single toolkit or ADK.

Bill

Got it, okay, and so with the Upgrade Readiness, you have to register every endpoint in your organization with the Cloud, is that correct?

Adin

Yes and no. You don’t have to register every single system in your environment to do this. Really think about it as long as you have enough systems that are used to represent your organization’s Windows landscape, that’s the target that you want to hit. That being said, of course more data is better. So the more systems you can use to connect to this service and feed data for this analysis, the more accurate picture you’ll get out of the tool.

Bill

Right. I mean, I guess I was under the impression that some people would use it to just help them decide which computers were okay to go to Windows 10, based on hardware capabilities and software titles used. Am I misunderstanding how that would apply?

Adin

No, that’s a good example. One of the nice features about the tool is from its analysis and assessment of the systems, it can produce a list of computers that are ready that don’t have any known issues, that are ready to be upgraded to Windows 10 right now.

Bill

And then if there are issues, it will tell you what they are and how to get more info. So if you want that level of detail, then you’ve got to track it on, you’ve got to put it on every system basically.

Adin

Right, yeah.

Bill

So what goes on when you’re installing this? What do you have to do to each system to get it communicating, and do you have to buy something in the Cloud? Is there a cost for this?

Adin

So first and foremost, as far as having the notion of agents or systems on your workstation endpoints there’s actually no client or agent required to deploy. There’s a script that Microsoft has provided, which sets some key registry values to make this operational. Now, when you’re sending data into the Cloud it is sending telemetry data that’s collected from those endpoints. The network load isn’t really large. Microsoft estimates a full scan at about approximately 3 meg of data and deltas are obviously a lot less than that. So it’s not really intrusive. There’s not a whole lot, as far as agent deployment-wise, but there is a script to configure key components to make this operational.

Bill

Okay, so Windows 7 & 8 already have the ability to send telemetry data. It’s just not inherently turned on or registered to your company for this purpose.

Adin

Right, exactly. [9:00] So there’s another piece involved with getting this Upgrade Readiness on all your systems. You have to create an OMS workspace, which will contain that data within that workspace. You have the Upgrade Readiness solution that you enable, but there’s a few other pieces involved for the end-to-end. So with the toolset you need to generate what’s called a commercial OP ID, and that’s unique to you, your organization and your OMS workspaces specifically. So without that unique ID as part of deploying the script to set the registry values to collect this telemetry data, you provide your OMS workspace ID and this commercial ID, which links into the Upgrade Readiness solution.

Bill

Okay got it. So you’re going to do this, and there’s no cost at this point for doing these basic things right.

Adin

Right, yeah. That’s actually something unique about this specific solution in OMS. OMS has different tiers of cost. There’s free, standalone and per node costs. And that’s subjective to what types of solutions and offers you’re going to leverage. The two solutions within OMS labeled under Windows Analytics are actually free. There is no cost to use those because the way it collects the data isn’t through the OMS log analytics main engine. It’s processed separately outside of that and the resulting data is then pushed into your OMS workspace. So there’s actually no cost at all.

Bill

Great. Okay, just to take a quick left turn here to talk about you. I want to know, because I ask all my guests, you’re my second guest, so this is all of them, what kind of cellphone do you use? Are you on IoS, Android, Windows phone, Motorola flip phone, what do you got there?

Adin

I’m definitely an Android person, and have the Google Pixel XL.

Bill

Oh sweet. All right, that’s two out of two guests now have been sporting the Google Pixel. The Google Pixel XL seems like an awesome phone. What’s your take on the camera? Is the camera as good as they say? The reviews are saying the camera is amazing.

Adin

Yeah, the camera is amazing!

Bill

Okay, so back to the stuff that people are actually listening in for. That was for me. So now once you’ve got this thing installed and you’re sending data up to the Cloud, is your data available immediately. What happens next?

Adin

Well once you’ve gone through all the initial setup and configuration of the OMS workspace, you’ve deployed that script to the environment and set it up appropriately, it generally takes about 48 hours for the data to populate into the upgrade readiness solution. [12:00] You also have to think about systems in your environment that might be off when you’re deploying this script out. So Microsoft estimates that a realistic scenario would be approximately 1 to 2 weeks to get the majority of your systems populated within there.

Bill

Okay it’s going to take a while before you’re really seeing all that information come through online.

Adin

Yeah, you might see a few things immediately, as it starts to process, but the real value with the machine learning and analytics behind the scenes to identify known issues and things like that, yeah, that might take a little bit of time just upfront to get that process rolling.

Bill

So what is Update Compliance? Just explain the whole concept. Give us complete context around that, and maybe some detail.

Adin

Sure. Update Compliance is the next level. Think about it, by using Upgrade Readiness to plan and assist your move to Windows 10, what do you do after you’ve migrated to Windows 10? That’s where Update Compliance comes in. It helps you to be able to track the different build versions of Windows 10, as there is different versions coming out throughout the year. It helps you to track the monthly, quarterly updates and feature updates that they’ve been releasing so that you can know, across your entire Windows 10 landscape, where am I at with the mix of builds, which systems need to be upgraded, what’s the progress of this happening within the environment? It really takes you to that level. Upgrade Readiness, the first tool that we talked about, gets you from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10. Update Compliance gets you from Windows 10 Build X to Windows 10 Build Y.

Bill

Okay great, and it lets you look out over your entire estate, as they say, and say hey where am I with everybody, really easily. Is that right?

Adin

Yeah. So you can see the different build versions, the different update rollups that you’re pushing out, the feature updates, so that you can see even devices that might need attention to resolve an issue.

Bill

Let’s talk for a minute now about why enterprises generally want to stay on premise. There was some thought some years back that they were going to move to the cloud, but enterprises generally stay on premise for a number of reasons. In this case, let’s say a company–maybe not even enterprise size–let’s say 10,000 endpoints, wanted to remain on premise with SCCM and their Windows Updates and software delivery, but they wanted to us this service [15:00] to provide that kind of insight. Is the service useful in that scenario or not really? Everything that it’s giving you, you’re going to get through the on premise SCCM?

Adin

Yes, that’s obviously a big scenario and Microsoft looks at that in a hybrid type of approach. So the OMS solution itself, OMS is a hybrid management platform, and it only operates from Azure. So there’s no on-premise version of OMS itself. With that being said, SCCM can integrate with OMS and can generate SCCM computer collections based on the data that’s extrapolated from the solution, like I talked about where it identifies all the systems that are ready to go to Windows 10 with no known issues. SCCM can then leverage that data, pull that down and create a dynamic SCCM collection so that you can roll out Windows 10 to a system that you know don’t have issues. Same thing applies with different builds of Windows 10 as well.

Bill

Okay, and this kind of insight into your estate, is that more difficult to get if you’re using strictly an on-premise SCCM solution, or would you say that there’s an equivalent visibility through the on-premise SCCM?

Adin

SCCM doesn’t have additional information, especially with the current branch releases cycle, bringing more features into that on-prem platform to identify different builds. Being to control, deploy that within your environment. You’ll get a lot more insightful information from OMS because it not only taps into the machine learning and the databases that Microsoft hold concerning known issues with certain versions of applications and those tie into even vendor related information as well.

Bill

Okay got it. Another right turn, because I like to mix it up in the middle of the podcast, you and your wife go on a lot of cruises, as I understand it.

Adin

You can eat all the time, which is awesome. And if you don’t want to hang out with other people, then you don’t have to. You don’t have to.

Bill

You don’t have to, yeah.

Adin

Yeah, you just do your own thing.

Bill

See, kind of shift in and out, and I’m guessing because you keep going on cruises. You must meet pretty cool people or you wouldn’t bother doing it.

Adin

Yeah, we’ve met a lot of interesting people, people that we still stay in contact with now, after the fact. So we’ve met some people that were retired and had gone on what’s called a World Cruise for I believe it was 9 months, 6 months or 9 month cruise. And you literally cruise all [18:00] over the world.

Bill

Oh because you work remotely. You could just do that.

Adin

But the internet fees are quite expensive.

Bill

I was just going to ask you what’s your bandwidth and how expensive, but we should probably get back to Upgrade Readiness. Okay, yeah I could ask you about that all day. Okay, so looking at this then, Update, it requires the OMS, which put you in the Cloud, and we talked about that and there’s no charge, but if you wanted to go to the Update Compliance, are you still having no charge or with Update Compliance is there now a need to start forking over some money?

Adin

So Update Compliance and Upgrade Readiness fall under the category of Windows Analytics. So if you go in to the OMS workspace, into the Solution Gallery, you’ll see those two solutions. They’re colored differently than the other solutions and it says along the top, Windows Analytics. Those solutions do not cost any money. So even despite how many systems that you put up there, I’ll share a quote from one of the Microsoft people on the team, because other customer have brought this up too. So the Windows Analytics team describes it this way, they say, “Upgrade Analytics data is not subject to the daily OMS data quote.” So for example, you could have a million desktops reporting. You do a free tier of OMS workspace, and the data would neither be charged or capped, and the same applies if a customer selects even a standalone pricing tier in OMS because they want to use some of the other features for other systems in their environment. They will get 30 days of data retention and no charge for the Upgrade Analytics data itself. So quite literally, the solutions around Windows Analytics are 100 percent free.

Bill

Fantastic. So now let’s look at how this will help you track your deployment. The Upgrade Readiness is going to let you see, if you were to install it on every system in your environment, you would be able to easily track exactly where everybody is in their migration to Windows 10, correct?

Adin

Yes correct. It will help you see what systems are ready for that Windows 10 Upgrade, like we discussed, but also it will give you kind of like status of progress along that journey to show you how many of your systems have been upgraded to Windows 10.

Bill

Okay, so it shows you who is ready and who has actually been upgraded. And the actual planning of your upgrading of groups of machines, this group, this month or whatever, that’s up to you. That’s a little bit out of scope for what the Upgrade Readiness tool is doing, right? It’s just providing [21:00] the raw data to schedule with.

Adin

Right, because the Upgrade Readiness tool doesn’t know the size of your environment or what mechanisms or tools you have to control that, but it will produce that list of computers that are ready to go, and then it’s up to you how you want to encapsulate and break that down in batches through the evenings and weekends, depending on department and so forth.

Bill

Got it, and the same with the compliance then. So now, let’s hear Log Analytics. So if you want to do more advanced reporting, can you upgrade and do you need to upgrade? Clarify what Log Analytics is, for people who don’t know, and whether or not you would use it with Upgrade Readiness, and if so, if that’s going to start costing you some money.

Adin

Sure. So the Upgrade Readiness data is process independent of the OMS workspace. After that it’s pushed into or populated into that workspace that you designate. So there’s no charge in that data. Log Analytics itself is really the search engine mechanism and querying language to find certain information, find data out of this mountain of information in the system. So because you’re ingesting data into the OMS workspace but not through the standard channel, so to speak, there’s still no cost. So you could actually leverage Log Analytics to query for certain systems, certain characteristics and pieces of data. And you could even use that to build custom OMS solutions for visualization or integrate with Power BI for dashboards and reporting.

Bill

Okay, well I’m impressed. I’ve been looking for some loophole where Microsoft is trying to get money out of you on this thing, and they’re really not. I mean, there are plenty of ways that they are happy to take your dollars or other currency, depending on where you are, but it’s not at all here in this Upgrade Readiness. This is really a completely free service in all aspects.

Adin

Right, so Microsoft is really obvious is a big push for Windows 10, as we know, but they’re really trying to streamline and make the process a lot easier to show companies of varying sizes how easy and how quick they can get up to Windows 10 within their environment.

Bill

Well thank you so much Adin for joining us, and you are a blogger. And people can get all of your blogs about, I believe you started out kind of talking about System Center and things like this, and you’ve moved more to Cloud and datacenter lately, at www.adinermie.com. Is that right?

Adin

Yep, that’s correct, and people can also find a lot of my blog posts and other things on Twitter, which it’s just @adinermie as well.

Bill

@adinermie, and I’m Bill Bernat with Adaptiva. Thank you so much for joining us today. Have a good afternoon Adin.

Adin

Thanks, you too.

Bill

Bye.

Bill Bernat
Director of Product and Content Marketing, Adaptiva