Top Five Best Practices for Streamlining a Windows 7 Migration

Quest's very own Shayne Higdon (@ShayneHigdon), VP and GM of User Workspace Management, recently caught up with Virtual Strategy Magazine to discuss best practices in a Windows 7 migration. Many of the best practices Shayne discusses can be automated with many of our tools like ChangeBASE or AssetManager. If you are in the middle of a migration, definitely download our free trials and see how it can help.


Here is a copy of the article featured in the magazine from Monday, June 11:


Top Five Best Practices for Streamlining a Windows 7 Migration


With the April 2014 deadline when Microsoft eliminates support for Windows XP quickly approaching and the migration of entire IT estates to Windows 7 in full swing, many organizations are now in the midst of migration projects. It is just as likely many have not yet begun this lengthy, challenging process that can take as long as two years. Due to the large number of legacy and homegrown applications being supported by IT, many companies are encountering hurdles along the way – particularly with application compatibility – adding significant time, cost and complexity to the process.


In fact, application compatibility is the biggest and most unmanaged problem that can occur in a Windows 7 migration project. The number of applications and application platforms are exploding, with organizations averaging 10 apps per every one person. This means application compatibility should be a top priority for a Windows 7 migration to avoid its potentially significant impact on an organization’s operations. Organizations must determine how to get their current applications to work in the updated environment – which typically requires a manual effort. This process can take as much as six months of a two-year Windows 7 migration period.


Manual testing is time-consuming and costly. The standard attrition rate for an application is one application every three years, and 500 applications could be updated, patched or changed numerous times over a 6- to 9-month period. In fact, with many organizations implementing Agile development methodologies, organizations can change faster than IT can test the applications. The cost of manual testing is impacted by the number of people it takes. If you use a large portion of your IT staff to do the testing, there’s an imbalance in the number of staff left over to run the business. If you are going to hire additional staff to test, you have to pay them thus increasing the total cost of ownership for a Windows 7 migration project.


Automation is the key to successfully managing the application compatibility portion of a Windows 7 migration project. Automated tools will help you reduce the time, cost and risk to the project by detecting exactly which applications exist in the environment, which ones are being used and how frequently, and delivering a clear view of the status of each one. Automating the application compatibility process will shorten that portion of the migration from six months to a week or less. After migration, the perfect tool will automate the desktop’s continual application and OS updates and patches keeping the organization productive amid the dynamic application change cycle.


Below are five best practices for preparing for a successful Windows 7 migration that keeps your applications intact, and delivers a user workspace that’s always available and productive:


1. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Application Discovery

Today’s software estate often contains more than 1,000 apps, both packaged and custom, and some are not accessible or visible. You will need to assess your entire application portfolio and understand how the migration will affect mission-critical apps. In this discovery process, it’s extremely important to understand your applications completely – which ones you have, where they are, who’s using them, how often they are using them and, most importantly, who is going to pay for that app to migrate to the new system. Complete assessment of the complex application environment requires a clear view of what you have in your application portfolio, so you can create an up-to-date, streamlined portfolio that’s ready for rapid migration.


2. Prepare for the Entire Organization to be Affected

Application compatibility challenges will affect desktop, server, virtual and web-based platforms; and organizations must go through a rationalization process to reduce the number of applications and decide which ones will go forward, and which will not. In addition, most organizations are expected to have multiple virtualization platforms to manage due to the practice of employing the best technology for each type of application. Organizations will have to determine the best virtual environment for each type of application, and then convert the application to the optimal environment. To address all of these challenges, you must be able to discover, assess, fix, and manage the entire lot.

3. The Best Fix is a Complete Fix

It’s not enough to just know which apps will be affected by the migration, but also how to fix the issues – quickly. And, even though the fix must be quick, it has to be a smart fix, as well. You can save the most time by fixing batches of similar apps all at the same time, and to do this, you need an automated assessment and remediation tool. These tools, which test and fix application compatibility issues, are regulated by industry standards. You will eliminate a costly and time-intensive process of testing application packages by taking an automated approach to migration, which also will give you consistent results, full documentation and an audit trail for all changes.

4. Use the Migration as an Opportunity to Improve

It’s likely your applications and desktops could benefit from virtualization, but organizations simply don’t have the ability to analyze how and where this technology should be deployed for maximum business value. The same automated tools that test and fix application compatibility issues for a Windows 7 migration project also can test applications to determine readiness for desktop virtualization. Desktop virtualization is not a one-size-fits-all, so automating the application analysis, testing, remediation, and conversion process frees up time and resources to enable IT to adopt desktop virtualization (terminal services or VDI) simultaneously with a Windows 7 migration. The benefits of this approach are easier manageability, improved user productivity, and better scalability to accommodate organizational growth.

5. Turn a Time Bomb into Competitive Advantage

Simply completing your Windows 7 migration by April 2014 should not be the only measure of your success. The next new wave of technology is approaching, bringing with it a whole new set of challenges, so planning and management should be ongoing. To stay ahead of competitive pressures while keeping users satisfied, organizations must use an automated tool that provides dynamic updates of the application compatibility rules, as well as monthly updates of OS patches. This continuous support of your applications will keep your environment up to date so you can adapt easily to Windows 8 and beyond.