IT Asset Management is the key to a successful Windows 10 migration

With Microsoft’s recent announcement that Windows 10 has been installed on 350 million devices around the world since its launch in August 2015, it’s clear that adoption rates are quickly accelerating. With Windows 7’s end-of-life (EOL) date of January 2020 on the horizon, now is a good time to start planning for a Windows 10 migration.

Preparation for a migration requires a deep understanding of enterprise resources and requirements. It is important to have a full inventory of both hardware and software assets along with connected devices to establish a baseline for identifying issues that will need to be addressed during the migration.

Organisations with a full IT Asset Management (ITAM) program can likely streamline and accelerate the process by accessing comprehensive information about compatibility and upgrade requirements. However, many organisations do not have an ITAM program already in place, and are not likely to go through the often-complex process of creating one just to streamline an operating system migration. The alternative route, of manually gathering inventory on thousands of devices, is neither practical from a time investment standpoint, nor cost-effective.

Luckily, a full ITAM program is not required to successfully migrate to Windows 10. What enterprises need is a complete hardware and software asset inventory enriched with Windows 10 data – and there are industry solutions that provide that in the form of automated asset inventory tools. Such tools also provide a full view of which assets are compatible with Windows 10, and which will need to be updated or replaced. These tools are often used as the first step for an asset management program, and in many cases, remain as a company’s core source for IT asset management needs. It’s critical to know whether existing assets will be compatible with Windows 10 because obsolete, legacy infrastructure can cause critical compatibility and security issues.

Once in your hands, the enriched IT asset inventory will reveal:

  • EOL dates of all software and hardware that affect Windows 10
  • How many versions of various software versions are installed throughout the enterprise
  • Which applications and devices are compatible or incompatible with Windows 10

Without this information, IT departments are unable to make fully informed decisions about next steps for a Windows 10 migration, and the same principle can be applied to any major software overhaul.

What do you do when the pre-migration inventory flags assets that will not comply with the new OS? While Windows 10 has a built-in Program Compatibility Troubleshooter that will extend the life of programs that are optimised for an outgoing operating system, most enterprises will still need to plan and budget for the costs associated with upgrading and remediating non-compliant assets. Or it may be a good time to question whether every asset is essential. Weeding out unnecessary software will minimise the time needed to complete the migration, while also reducing software spending in the long-term.

Once the initial migration Windows 10 deployment is complete, IT departments should prepare to make frequent updates associated with the new operating system.

It may also be the right time to implement a long-term asset management strategy that ensures hardware, software and connected devices are consistently kept up-to-date, because keeping up with compatibility and update issues is a 24/7 responsibility.

Walker White is president of BDNA

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