Windows 10 was released on July 29, 2015. Anxious to deploy its enhanced security features, some organizations completed migration to the new OS well in advance of the January 14, 2020 deadline for end of support of Windows 7. As such, their IT teams have worked through the inevitable issues that come with the massive deployment. But, despite all of the discussions around management and updates, these enterprise teams are in a significant minority.
According to a recent survey, only 15 percent of enterprises have completed migration, and approximately a quarter of respondents anticipate that they will not fully convert before Windows 7 support ends. There are numerous reasons for this — lack of time, lack of resources, and fears about greater management responsibilities are among the biggest culprits. With so many organizations unprepared for a migration deadline that is only a few short months away and Microsoft showing no signs of shifting the end-of-support timeline, companies are asking what they should do. Here are some options.
Weigh the Consequences
While technically companies don’t have to do anything, letting the support deadline pass and continuing to run Windows 7 without critical security updates is not a viable solution. Tremendous risks accompany this kind of inaction. In today’s enterprise environment, any vulnerability for any amount of time puts infrastructure in danger, and without added security support and system updates, companies should understand an attack at the endpoint is all but inevitable. With no mechanism in place to detect when an endpoint is compromised or way to address an issue, the effects could be devastating. Ultimately, doing nothing likely would prove the most expensive approach of all.
Enterprises can opt to purchase extended support if they cannot complete migration in time. This should be viewed as a stop-gap solution only, not a remedy for migration. By delaying the move to Windows 10, companies not only miss out on the latest product advances and security features, but it is also a costly proposition. Starting at $25 per machine or device, enterprises could potentially spend millions of dollars on top of what they will eventually have to pay to complete migration with very little to show for the extra expenditure.
Ramp Your Resources
While the clock is ticking, companies still have seven months to get the job done. Depending on where they are in the process, they can continue to move along their present course, hope that they make it, and pay for added support for a month or two if they don’t, or they can explore a couple of additional possibilities. Adding more staff — devoted employees or independent contractors — or hiring a third-party vendor to focus solely on the migration process is one way to go.
Bringing more people on board can facilitate migration, but it also gets complicated and costly. The hiring process is long and cumbersome, draining existing resources that are already stretched thin. Staffing also involves training and ramp-up, educating others about how infrastructure and systems are organized, which can be time-consuming.
Automate Manual Tasks
Another possibility that is increasing in popularity is to automate the process — or at least part of it. There are several vendors that provide quality solutions that map to where an organization is in its migration journey. These solutions quickly and seamlessly alleviate many of the pain points and manual activities that hinder migration. For example, one of the key reasons companies want to move to Windows 10 is to take advantage of new security features, but if devices are not configured correctly, those advantages cannot be realized. Automated solutions run checks and scan all devices to ensure they meet prerequisites before attempting deployment, ensuring that each endpoint is set up correctly for the new OS. Similarly, automated solutions can check to be sure each person’s machine has the right authorizations before reimaging. Through simple workflows and strategic use of automated solutions, IT teams can prevent many problems from happening prior to migrating, saving massive amounts of time and eliminating headaches.
It is not just preparing for migration where automation proves useful. Migration tasks themselves can be automated, such as with assistance moving from BIOS to UEFI or PXE booting machines. By applying automation to specific aspects of migration, it makes the job much more manageable and frees staff for other IT priorities.
The issue with automation to date has been the fact that IT teams are so inundated with their “regular” work that they haven’t had time to test out different solutions. As the migration deadline nears, more and more enterprises are making the time to investigate this route, particularly as automated solutions prove their value well past migration.
A Windows 10 World
There are no perfect roads to migration, especially as end-of-support nears. There will be bumps in the road and unforeseen delays. Even after the last endpoint is migrated, the applause will be muted by the fact that it is merely the start of a new phase: management.
Windows 10 updates will come fast and furious, and enterprise IT teams must prepare for how they will execute these without negatively impacting end users and the corporate network. This daunting aspect alone has slowed deployments in some enterprises, and it is why automation is gaining such strong traction. The good news is that there are a number of solutions that can accelerate both the deployment and management of Windows 10, and enterprises still have a few more months to discover them as they race to the finish.
This article is reported from the original posting in BetaNews.