Life’s funny when you’re at Camwood

We always end up on some great client engagements and pre-sales meetings, but something made me laugh royally this week.  One of our clients is going through the typical Windows 7 VDI project wondering whether 64bit is realistic, should we go App-V and asking me for an opinion on strategy.  As it happens, these folks are spot-on with their thinking and are ensuring that they’re getting the right view by collecting factual information about their application estate.  They’ll use Camwood Survey to ascertain the actual applications that they use, create their accurate rationalised list and we’ll then put the applications through our Application Compatibility service to give them factual information about their potential strategy.  So what’s funny about that?  Nothing – that was the meeting – what was really funny was walking through Liverpool Street with two of my colleagues.  We go past Boots and this poor lass has tried to get out of the store but the staff must have forgotten to take the security tags off.  One of my colleagues who will remain nameless shouts out “STOP THIEF” at the top of his voice – the lass is mortified, it appeared that in a Matrix type scene that the world slowed down and looked at this poor woman.  Exit stage right, three grinning fools….  Have a great bank holiday weekend!

Due diligence of Apps, Apps, Apps

During the early stages of a prospective engagement all managed service providers take stock of a clients environment by carrying out activities of due diligence. This often centres on simply counting users, desktops, laptops, servers etc plus carrying out some specific design reviews. At this early stage an assumed number of applications is detailed by the business. Digging deeper into inventory and Discovery systems the managed service provider could easily and quickly ascertain that there are 10 times the number of applications in production and that the world they are going to inherit is unmanaged. Once the engagement is won the new managed service provider will carry out activities of housekeeping and consolidation to ensure support for their winning low bid but as soon as they realise that they are accountable for far more than the handful of applications they were advised about they have to contemplate renegotiations. As you can imagine, we at Camwood have a natural bias towards applications but a simple philosophy that the  “business function” is the most important deliverable would be new “breath of fresh air” response to the client. It would of course mean that the application(s) that deliver these functions are naturally of secondary importance followed lastly by the underlying infrastructure of equipment that managed service providers focus on!  With more and more clients virtualising every aspect of their IT systems the concept of counting individual items in the estate at due diligence time is becoming irrelevant and meaningless. Instead the worth of the prospective engagement is based on the quality of service that each business function receives rather than the number of users of that service. Imagine the day when the RFP simply says “keep our business functions operating and help us out deliver our competitors”, where would you start your due diligence then? ……………………………. (apps, apps, APPS)

Camwood Announce New! Optimized Desktop Proof-of-Concept Jumpstart program

Camwood is pleased to announce the availability of a new program funded by Microsoft designed to help you understand the value of the Optimized Desktop with Windows 7 Enterprise, App-V, IE8 and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. The Proof of Concept Jumpstart is designed to get our customers up and running quickly so that you can experience the benefits of the Optimized Desktop. Proof of Concept Jumpstart is a 10-day engagement delivering a sample Windows® 7 Enterprise desktop, Microsoft® Office Professional Plus 2010, Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), and Internet Explorer® 8 rollout in a controlled environment. Professional Services Director Tony Fones at Camwood said ‘Customers are making the choice every day to move to Windows 7 and Office 2010, at Camwood we have over 10 years experience in delivering successful application migration services to some of the largest organisations in the UK. The Proof of Concept programme is a great way for customers who are considering the move to Windows 7 to demonstrate the feasibility of deployment”

What to do with incompatible apps

With the best will in the world, if you’re responsible for an enterprise portfolio, some of your applications won’t work on Windows 7. Simply put, Microsoft have deprecated certain aspects of its older OS’s for security and functionality reasons. The removal of such components obviously means that any application using them, will fail when deployed to Windows 7. So what can you do? Microsoft will tell you in the first instance, that you should upgrade…and they’re right. This is by far the most reliable method for delivering the same business functionality through your new platform. However, this is often costly in terms of time and money, but it is worth looking in to, as a free, low impact upgrade may be available for your business to leverage. If you can’t go down the upgrade route where do you go? First and foremost, this should not be viewed as a road block to adoption, as you do have options. These options are broadly split in to three: 1. Provide the application through a hosted Citrix platform. 2. Provide the application within a virtual copy of your previous build. 3. Provide the application on a kiosk PC. Enterprises have been using Citrix to deliver applications they don’t want on the desktop for years, very successfully. This solution can often also work for delivering applications that can no-longer be delivered to the desktop. For example, if you are moving from XP to Windows 7 and you’ve an app that won’t work on Windows 7, delivering it through a Citrix platform installed on Windows Server 2003, will facilitate to delivery of the business function, without having to “work around” the inherent incompatibilities of the desktop Windows 7 build. It is of course possible that you will have to silo an existing farm to deliver this functionality, which needless to say has an implied cost; but balance that against the cost of upgrading the software, or supporting multiple OS builds and you may be surprised with the results. Alternatively you could look at supplying the application as-is, but virtually. A couple of solutions spring to mind, MED-V and VDI. MED-V is Microsoft’s locally deployed virtual solution for delivering your legacy OS, with apps installed, to your new production Windows 7 platform. This take the form of a cut-down version of your existing XP build, created virtually and deployed to your Windows 7 desktop. The application is then launched within this virtual build and presented to the Windows 7 interface. Recent experience has shown that this solution can be successfully leveraged to deliver point solutions, however global wide scale usage is rare. VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) on the other hand has been proven in many enterprises as a global solution for delivering centrally managed OS builds (and therefore applications) to the common or garden business user. Typically this solution is leveraged to keep management of the desktop platform in the data centre where the relevant expertise exists, however the type or revision of Windows delivered is not limited to newer versions and could be configured to deliver a legacy build to facilitate the operation of older applications. Finally and by exception, kiosk PC’s can be used to provide the required business functionality to a limited number of users in the same geographical location. This solution is not as elegant as the other two and will require different management processes to be put in place. However if neither of the other solutions are practical in your enterprise, and the incompatible application has a limited user base, it is worth considering. These options are of course fall back solutions for when an application tests as incompatible with the target platform, which it should be noted is normally a tiny percentage of any given portfolio. With the vast majority of applications, potential compatibility issues will exist, but they can be resolved. The next blog will look at the more common scenarios for resolving application incompatibilities; “What approach should I take to potential incompatibilities?”

Will 64bit computing block my Win7 adoption?

‘Block’ is probably over egging it a little, but influence definitely. More and more users are requesting 64Bit computing because of it’s availability and the perception the experience will be faster; and it should be. So what is preventing you from moving to 100% 64bit, hardware or software? The likelihood is that although some of your hardware will need replacing, it will be easy to understand which systems and where they are on the hardware refresh cycle. But what about your applications? Well, the short answer is almost all of them will work; and here is why: 1. 32bit applications work perfectly on 64bit Windows. The 64bit release of any Windows platform will support 32Bit applications, as long as they work on the 32Bit equivalent platform. The reason for this, is that they have been designed to do so, to facilitate exactly this behaviour. 2. Old software will be an issue. Unsurprisingly some or your oldest software won’t work on a 64bit platform, due to the 16bit code used within it. However, this isn’t as bad as it may at first look. Just because an application has 16bit code referenced within it, doesn’t mean it uses. Sounds implausible I know, but installers for applications are made up of everything the app may need, not only what your business uses…UAT it on your target platform, it will likely work. 3. Old drivers may not work. The driver rules in 64bit platforms are different, e.g. low level (kernel mode) drivers need to be 64bit, 32bit versions won’t work. As with the old 16bit software example above, it’s possible your applications contain drivers you don’t use. From a list of non-64bit drivers within your apps, it will be clear that some will definitely be used and therefore an issue. The others should be tested under common business usage, as it likely most will work. Experience has shown that your application portfolio will likely hit 80-90% compatibility with any 64bit platform; the newer your portfolio, the higher this compatibility profile will be. But what about your older apps? You’ll need to consider either alternative serving strategies (Citrix, MED-V, VDI) or an upgrade to the application. Which solution fits your business best, will likely be determined by the change in user experience and cost required to implement them. More in the next blog, “What to do with incompatible apps”.