Windows 9: Another OS, another migration

By Steve Schmidt, VP Corporate Development

Rumours are rife that Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) is scheduled for launch in April 2015. If true, this operating system (OS) will come in less than 18 months after the launch of Windows 8.1. This is when many enterprises are scrambling to transition to Windows 7 from Windows XP; and some businesses are potentially underway in their Windows 8/8.1 projects.

OS migrations are among the most costly, stressful, time intensive and manpower heavy projects for IT departments. So what does this increasingly shortened software lifecycle mean for businesses?

IT organizations are reaching a crisis point. Little known to business-level executives, every time a new application, OS upgrade, or even bug fix is introduced into the corporate environment, a complex series of Application Readiness best practice steps need to occur to ensure the software will function properly. IT must identify where the app will be deployed and by whom.

To avoid wasted effort IT must rationalize the application estate and migrate only those apps that are actually being used. The application has to be tested to ensure compatibility with the environment, and it must conform to the company’s standards. If problems are found with the application, IT must fix them and then ‘repackage’ the application before delivering it to the deployment system or to the enterprise app store.

But it gets more complicated because IT environments are becoming ever more complex. Most organizations run applications now in virtual, cloud and mobile environments as well as on traditional desktop computers. Those Application Readiness best practices now must ensure that new OS, applications, and patches will work on employees’ desktop and devices, on web-based apps and in virtual containers. With each new environment — the complexity of ensuring Application Readiness multiplies exponentially.

On average, about 30 per cent of an organization’s applications require upgrades and migrations every year. This means that IT teams must be in a state of continual readiness to identify, rationalize, test and assess compatibility, and fix about a third of their software estate on a yearly basis. And this is why many IT Departments are behind the eight-ball. The old patch work of tactical tools and processes that used to suffice to prepare applications for deployment no longer work so well. This means that the entire organization suffers because the IT backlog now dictates when strategic apps make it to the end users — rather than when the business actually needs it.

The new normal

Research backs this up. According to the 2013 Application Usage Management Study on organizational readiness for massive software migrations, prepared by IDC and Flexera Software, continual software migrations are now the ‘new normal’ — and CIOs aren’t equipped to handle it. According to the study, OS migrations and virtualization projects are in full swing, even while new OS releases and technologies (i.e. mobile) are being contemplated for adoption.

Despite the growth and continual nature of these massive software migrations, many respondents in the survey admitted they have not implemented automation around their Application Readiness processes to ensure employees are getting the applications they need, when they need them.

Adopting Application Readiness best practices and technology that automate the processes for fast, efficient and effective migration planning, testing, remediation and repackaging is the only way for IT to ensure that the application estate is future proof. Applications must be ready, up to date and available to users when they need them. Without a thorough rethinking of your Application Readiness process to ensure anytime, ‘package-once-deploy-anywhere’ capabilities, software transitions of any kind will become increasingly difficult and significantly impact enterprises’ business performance and ultimately the bottom line.

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