Take the ‘train hard, fight easy’ approach to Windows 10 migration

The Army motto of ‘train hard, fight easy’ has many applications outside the military – and one of them is operating system migrations. If your organisation prepares thoroughly before implementing Windows 10, the actual migration of desktops, applications and infrastructure should be straightforward.

Windows 10 offers a number of benefits, including cloud-based management tools that scale up and down to meet the needs of your business. It also includes tools that can help you automate the actual migration to speed it up and ensure it goes smoothly.

But before you reach that stage, it is vital to scope the changes that will be needed in order for Windows 10 to run successfully. Once you have the data in front of you and can assess the scale of the migration and the amount of testing required, you may find that it is not as daunting as you had initially expected.

EACS has developed a five step best practice approach which organisations can use to scope an operating system migration:

  • Business discovery: establish the business case for the migration and your IT priorities
  • Desktop assessment: quantify your desktop computing needs
  • Application assessment: understand the applications in use and their compatibility with Windows 10 and the new Edge browser
  • Create a reliable design
  • Carry out a proof of concept.

The first step is to establish a sound business case for the move to Windows 10. This might include compliance, to implement new software which will not run on the current operating system, security concerns or licensing reasons. Without this there is no point in continuing to plan a migration – your IT resources could be used better elsewhere.

Steps two and three are to carry out an accurate assessment of your current desktop, user and application estate to obtain critical performance data and determine their readiness for the changes and new features of Windows 10. You can also use this data to review your current and future desktop strategy, as it will help you to understand the user experience and identify areas for transforming and optimising your environment. You may be able to use the migration as an opportunity to improve the user experience and introduce new ways of working, such as replacing fat clients with shared desktops and/or applications or VDI at the same time, or introducing remote working.

The most effective way to obtain this data is to use system tracking software such as Lakeside SysTrack. This should be deployed across a number of desktops and endpoints for around 30 days. You can either buy and install this type of software yourself or work with an IT consultant who can install it in your business for the required period. The advantage of purchasing this type of software is that it can also be used after the migration to continuously monitor your desktop estate and help you improve the end user experience.

The tracking software collects desktop, user and application performance and utilisation data, monitoring a number of key performance metrics which will enable you to understand the performance levels of the current desktop estate and how it impacts the user experience. It provides detailed usage and consumption data, showing how each application uses system resources, the actual time an application is being interacted with and application interdependencies and conflicts.

The data can then be analysed to indicate the readiness of each application for Windows 10 as well as other changes you might choose to introduce at the same time, such as implementing a partial or total move to a thin client environment. The analysis should also provide guidance on application remediation and an indication of the difficulty of migrating each application through a traffic light system (green meaning easy, amber moderate and red difficult).

The information should also assist you in developing a high level design. You can then scope the migration, estimate the infrastructure and staffing requirements, develop a migration timeline and prepare budget projections.

Once the high level design has been created, the preliminary assumptions about the solution should be validated by carrying out a proof of concept (POC). The POC consists of an initial implementation for a small number of end users to demonstrate the new Windows 10 desktop experience and to confirm that this will meet the business requirements.

The above approach should make a Windows 10 migration straightforward by providing vital planning and design data, enabling you to understand your readiness to migrate to Windows 10 and designing an implementation that will meet your organisation’s unique needs.

Mike Dearlove, managing director, EACS

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