Last year, few IT professionals believed they would be close to completing their migration to Windows 10 by this time. Some even estimated that they wouldn’t be at the halfway mark. Given the scale of this mission—migrating thousands of systems without business interruption—this conservative outlook is perhaps understandable.

Yet IT experts across major industries and enterprises have found that, while their planning cycles have taken more time than expected, actual system deployments are moving swiftly. In fact, our recent annual 2017 Windows 10 Enterprise Impact Survey of nearly 500 enterprises with upwards of more than 10,000 systems unveiled a tipping point in which nearly 10 percent had already completed their migrations. Many more believe that they will complete the migration within twelve months at the latest.

What changed? What sparked this sudden acceleration of Windows 10 upgrades?

A Desire for Efficiency and Security with Windows 10

Part of it certainly lies in the pressure of the future; there’s no way to escape the universal enterprise upgrade to Windows 10. Ninety-nine percent of our survey audience is committed to moving up. Not only is continued support from Microsoft contingent on it, but experts agree that Windows 10 will prove to be a far more efficient OS and easier to manage on a day-to-day basis than Windows 7 or 8.

Security also appears to be pushing migration faster. A consensus of industry experts agree that Windows 10 will prove a more secure OS than any other client system released by Microsoft. This consensus is far from unfounded: Windows 10 offers major improvements to Windows Secure Boot, Device Guard and Credential Guard, and the security of Office 365 by tracking down viruses transmitted by email. In addition, most companies are planning to utilize a wipe-and-load installation process for their Windows 10 migration, and completely wiping hard drives is an excellent digital hygiene practice for clearing out any lingering digital malaises hiding in the systems.

But the real change might be the awareness and availability of automation tools which make the migration to Windows 10 more accessible and streamlined than ever before.

Automation and Optimism for Zero-Touch Migrations

There is a long-held desire among IT professionals to enact a zero-touch migration process—requiring no manual efforts at all. Given the demands placed on IT teams already, high on the list are ways to automate and gain new efficiencies without the need for additional infrastructure. One such way is peer-to-peer PXE, which has proven to be a great way to speed up migrations by allowing IT teams to PXE boot their endpoints without having to perform tons of manual configuration work or maintain a dedicated PXE server.

Another way is to seek simple software solutions to eliminate tedious tasks, such as tools to speed the migration from BIOS to UEFI, which is necessary to take advantage of the security features in Windows 10. These tools can speed up some of the most time-consuming Windows 10 migration tasks and are easily found on educational sites like Windows Noob and SCCM Academy.

The time and energy that automation can potentially save is quite significant and can be the difference of months or even years in upgrading their complete enterprise. A majority of IT professionals believe that automation can save them hours in migrating a single system to Windows 10 and countless hours migrating their enterprise.

Automation is also crucial in finding ways to migrate an entire enterprise at scale with small, resource-constrained IT teams. With the majority of migration teams comprised of five members or less, the need for automation efficiency becomes ever more pressing. Responding to this need, many IT professionals report that they are currently projecting that a good portion of their migration systems will be zero-touch. While complete zero-touch deployments across all systems are often difficult to achieve, the trend among enterprises is clearly to get as close to the goal of fully automated end-to-end Windows 10 migration as quickly as possible.

As 2017 progresses, we are already seeing a surge in Windows 10 planning and wide-scale deployments, even in the largest enterprises. The question is: “As the need for Windows 10 migrations are picking up speed, do enterprises have the right tools and teams in place to help them scale to meet the challenge?” Only time will tell, but with Windows 10 deployments happening simultaneously with other major IT initiatives, particularly around the security front, getting closer to zero-touch deployments is quickly going to be a necessity—not an ideal.

As first published in Windows IT Pro.