Keys to success for a last-minute XP migration

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

For many, time has run out. Microsoft’s long-anticipated end-of-life for Windows XP has arrived and not everyone is ready for it. But for those who are still migrating, there is still time to learn from the mistakes of predecessors and take advantage of the efficiency benefits this transition offers.

In fact, some might argue that by delaying the migration to Windows 7, procrastinators actually have the upper hand because they can draw on industry best practices and use the migration as a way to transform how software is distributed across their organization. There are, however, myriad issues to address, from application mapping to “gotchas” around device drivers.

Moreover, companies should recognize that migrations are more than just a process that results in the deployment of a new operating system. They should use migrations to transform the way they manage applications and software delivery.

For those latecomers who have not yet started, there are three critical steps that companies need to consider when executing a migration.

The first issue to address is how you rationalize application usage. This is by far the longest and most complex activity during an OS migration. The lack of rationalization is the No.1 cause of delayed migrations and, at times, can bring migrations to a screeching halt. Many companies lack any real visibility into which applications their employees use.

By conducting an inventory of apps used throughout the organization and on individual end points, you become aware of  how much software you actually have, who uses it and how much of it is actually being used, which will inform which applications should be packaged with the OS image and which should be included in a catalog where users can download and install for themselves once the migration is complete. Additionally, the insight from this rationalization gives you the ability to map legacy applications to new applications, allowing you to reduce your overall portfolio.

The second key to success (especially at this late stage) is to automate, automate and automate some more. Traditional migration methods are not only costly and timely, they are completely unnecessary given the technology available today. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce completion time and the overall cost and, at the same time, minimize disruption to the end user through automation. With 100% automation, the technical tasks and processes involved in an OS migration can run outside of business hours or at a time chosen by the user. Network-based migration deployments can also alleviate IT departments from the burden of desk-side visits, which are costly and inefficient.

The final step you need to undertake is to empower end users to perform the migration themselves. Users can initiate the migration process, for example, choosing a time when they are out of the office so their productivity doesn’t suffer. Post-migration, users can be given access to a self-service app store where they can add applications that were not included in the basic OS image – thus reducing IT’s role as a middle man in the process of approving and installing apps for each user. By giving power to the end user, IT departments will be able to focus more on core tasks enabling efficiency and innovation.

Many companies that have migrated successfully from Windows XP have been able to simplify their IT infrastructure by up to 95%, rationalize applications across the enterprise and take advantage of automated self-service. This has meant thousands of end points being migrated every week, and in some instances, more than 30,000 PCs being migrated in one month.

This Windows migration will set the stage for future migrations. In fact, canny organizations will recognize that this migration should be viewed as a future-proof project for other Windows migrations to come. This automated approach remains applicable to migrations of all types and is set to become standard practice as OS migrations become an annual event.

Much has been learned from this migration, and through technology streamlining, future migrations will be easier for organizations.

Sumir Karayi is CEO of 1E