start planning for the next operating system migration


Are you ready for the next OS migration?

More than nine months have passed since Microsoft terminated all support for Windows XP. Even though many government agencies successfully made the transition to Windows 7, it’s already time for IT managers to start planning for the next operating system migration, as mainstream support for Windows 7 just ended on Jan. 13.

Even though Microsoft will continue to provide security patches until Jan. 14, 2020, there’s no time like the present to start planning ahead to protect your infrastructure.

Many agencies delay migration because it is a huge task and it can be risky, time consuming and expensive. The time required for a migration depends on agency size and the number and types of applications. It is recommended that IT departments start planning at least one year in advance.  A complete migration will cost an agency at least $250 per machine.

Fortunately, government agencies can save both time and money while continuing to provide essential services to citizens by using automated tools and a four-step migration process:

Step 1: Planning ahead: Inventory, analysis and rationalization

The migration process cannot begin until all applications, hardware and network users and resources within an organization have been verified.  IT managers can use automated tools to take inventory and compare application files to an established compatibility database.

Incompatibility between applications, hardware and the new operating system can be identified, and the content to be migrated can be rationalized. The time to completion can also be estimated based on the amount of data to be migrated. These programs also help to establish and maintain an inventory of all systems and software, while providing valuable information about the users of each application.

Step 2: Applications: Testing, remediation and repackaging

Once IT managers have determined which hardware and software will be migrated, they must make sure that applications work with the new operating system. Automated compatibility testing helps to identify areas of risk early in the process and allows for remediation and repackaging. Customized reports also help IT staff easily find and fix compatibility issues in a matter of minutes, instead of days, weeks or months.

When deciding whether to migrate legacy systems, IT managers must weigh the value of the application and its importance to the agency’s mission. Perhaps only a few employees use the application, or maybe the person that developed the program is no longer available to support it. Another consideration involves web-based applications that run with an Internet browser. Agencies must make sure the browser is certified as secure and operational with the new operating system. Citizen-facing applications may require a different browser than an internal facing browser.

Step 3: Deployment

To successfully move an end-user system to a new operating system, several time-consuming processes must be completed. It is estimated it takes most organizations at least an hour to reimage and deploy a single computer with a new operating system. To help with the process, a systems imaging solution can be used to create several “master” images that can be used on multiple machines.

Additional updates and personalization can be added on top of the image as required. A centralized deployment system can install images on remote computers where on-site IT support is not available. Other automated systems can complete complex tasks such as unattended deployment after hours.

Additionally, a cloud solution that allows end users to self-manage the migration by scheduling a convenient appointment is a better use of everyone’s time. That way, IT staff can actually spend time providing essential support, and end users can plan ahead for the interruption. Through dashboard-style reports that showcase metrics regarding the number of deployments completed, CIOs get more control over the migration process.

Step 4: Support: Post-migration maintenance.

Once a user’s system is migrated, automated tools can support the new operating system environment. Through this technology, systems can be tracked, updated, secured and managed on a consistent basis. This helps IT managers meet compliance requirements and make sure that the new environment will continue to provide efficiencies.

Even though 2020 seems like a long time from now, it’s only five years away and will certainly sneak up fast. By planning ahead and using the right tools and processes, IT managers can use a migration to increase agency efficiency while saving time and money.

About the Author

Jose Carlos Linares is president and CEO of the Open Technology Group.

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