Windows 8 is almost here – but is it right for your business?
With the majority of desktops still running Windows XP, which route should enterprises take? Stick with XP to the bitter end – now less than a couple of years away? Forget about Windows 8 for the moment and migrate to 7? Bite the bullet and move wholesale to 8, with all the new hardware required?
So it’s official: Windows 8 will become generally available on 26th
October, with all-new touch versions for the Windows Phone and Windows Surface tablet in addition to the standard desktop versions.
While this is exciting news for consumers who’ve been waiting for Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iOS, are enterprises are right to be circumspect? For organisations that still rely heavily on desktops and laptops, Windows 8 may seem to offer little that isn’t already available in Windows 7.
However if, like many others, your organisation is seeing an influx of tablet devices and smart phones, it has never been more important to understand your apps. You need to know which critical apps can and need to be accessed on these devices and who needs them. A hybrid environment could be the answer and we can help you to understand how operate in a mixed Windows 7/8 environment and what this means for your app portfolio.
Three things to bear in mind…
There’s no right answer, of course – the decision will very much depend on the individual enterprise, its IT and business strategy, available budget and current IT landscape.
But that being said, there are still some general points that every XP shop needs to be thinking about now, as the 2014 deadline for removing support looms ever closer:
POINT ONE: Moving from XP to Windows 8 won’t be a straightforward ‘upgrade’
If you’re planning to move from XP to 8, you’re looking at a wholesale migration project. That means analysing your entire app estate, working out which apps are going to work on Windows 8 and which aren’t, packaging and sequencing the ones that pass, and then redeploying the migrated apps on to the upgraded desktops.
And don’t be lulled into thinking that if you’re mainly using browser-based apps, this won’t be so much of an issue. If your Windows migration includes a move from IE 6 or 7 to IE 8, 9 or 10, chances are you’ll run into compatibility issues with older browser-based apps too – so be prepared to check compatibility and have a plan for remediating or replacing older apps as necessary. (Alternatively, check out this very neat, low-cost solution to IE compatibility headaches offered by Browsium
To be frank, though, none of this applies just to Windows 8 – you’ll have to go through this exact same process with Windows 7 and application virtualization too. And that brings us on to:
POINT TWO: Your app estate is probably much more complex than you think it is.
If the last platform migration you did was to XP, your users have had years to accrue a chaotic mass of applications on their desktops – in addition to whatever apps you’ve got running in a client/server or browser-based environment.
If you don’t spend time understanding what’s in the app estate and rationalising it down to an optimal group of apps that are compatible with the new platform, you’ll be in for a a headaches when the migration work starts.
(For more about that, read our Application Migration Intelligence eBook
– we guarantee it’ll save you weeks of pain.)
POINT THREE: The early bird catches the worm.
It’s never too early to start planning your next migration. Even if you want to hold off and see whether Windows 8 really can deliver what your enterprise needs, it always pays to keep your app estate as agile, lean and migration-ready as possible.
That means continually monitoring for obsolete and unused applications, ditching un-used licenses and knowing at any given point which apps are likely to migrate easily to a new platform and which are likely to require some level of remediation.
We call this approach Application Portfolio Management – and it not only makes migrations infinitely easier, it can also save huge amounts of money through ongoing license rationalisation. (Find out more with our Application Agility ebook
One thing’s for certain: no business can hold out on the decade-old XP for much longer. And whether your future plans include Windows 7, Windows 8, virtualization, cloud computing or a mixture, it makes sense to start getting your app estate in shape right now.