After a long wait, Windows 8 is finally here. The new operating system from Microsoft, features a number of business-friendly features that would be compelling for enterprise users and administrators. According to industry estimates, nearly half of the Indian organisations use Windows XP platform today, and as the OS reaches end of life in a year-and-a-half, analysts believe it will result in a demand uptick for newer platforms such as Windows 7 and 8.
Hence, the migration from Windows XP is one of the top IT priorities today, in the context of the emerging post PC era, the extinction of Windows XP support, and device proliferation at the workplace.
Although the roll-out of Windows 8 by enterprises will be phased and gradual, media reports state that select Indian enterprises have already downloaded 16 million copies for testing of the OS since September 2011 until its launch this year. As organizations undertake this migration, many are looking to streamline the process for both IT and users to reduce the complexity and costs associated with migrating client PCs to a new operating system.
However, while the decision to migrate is relatively straightforward, the process of migrating can be rife with IT complexity, end-user disruptions, and added costs. Desktop Virtualization in this context is a powerful technology that can facilitate this transition in a quick seamless way through the following four pivots:
Enhancing Consumerization of IT
For executives, work is no longer defined by a place. It’s something they do – wherever and whenever their organizations require. Modern executives need continuous access to enterprise data while being inherently agile. The role of an executive has changed from being hierarchical to being truly networked.
In this regard, executives who have adopted tablets can now get a consistent experience of Windows 7/8 through desktop virtualization even if the tablets are running on different operating systems (such as iOS, Android etc.) This also enables these mobile executives to access their desktops anywhere using their device, thereby improving efficiency and productivity.
Applications built on a 16-bit architecture will cease to work while upgrading to 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7 or 8. This can be challenging from a business continuity perspective as many business critical programs will be dependent on their erstwhile architecture framework.
Similarly, it could be a gargantuan activity to re-platform applications built and designed for Internet Explorer 6 browsers with Windows 8. In this case, desktop virtualization facilitates on-demand application facility where IT can virtualize the IE6 and deliver it from data center onto the new OS with no differentiation in user experience. In addition, applications that require 16-bit architecture can be virtualized and delivered in the same way to numerous end points.
Migration to Windows 7 and 8 comes with having to open purse strings towards hardware upgrades in an organization. Such roll-outs are also associated with downtime as they are completed in a phased approach, consuming months of IT staff time and multiple days of downtime for end users. Desktop Virtualization enables the OS and applications to be delivered virtually, while the hardware resources of the end-point remain unused. As a result it doesn’t necessitate a hardware upgrade, eliminating the scenarios of cost expenditure and downtime.
In fact, the procedure entails merely deploying the Windows 7/8 solution at the data center, and all the user has to do is simply log out and re-login. When they log in to the desktop virtualization client, their systems are up and running on Windows 7/8 with all their requisite applications. Another major advantage of embracing desktop virtualization is that it reduces operating expenses by centralizing desktop maintenance and brings down the desk-side support needs. By making it possible to deliver virtual desktops to thin clients or tablet devices, this enables the company to save costs on power and cooling.
Security and User Preferences
During an upgrade, it may be required to re-chart the entire settings for each of the end users owing to the host of new security and user preferences available with Windows 7 & 8 as compared to Windows XP. As a natural consequence, security of data becomes a concern while allotting privileges to each of the employees as the company data resides on user end-points.
With desktop virtualization, the organization can manage this transition in a secured manner as the data doesn’t shift out of company’s data center, and therefore doesn’t reside on the end points.
In a nutshell, the challenges around application compatibility, agility of desktops to support new environments and data security can be very well addressed through desktop virtualization during migration from Windows XP.
Author: Atul Ahuja