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Three steps to manage Windows 10 in the enterprise

Because so many executives and employees are bringing personal devices into the workplace, Windows 10 is already in the enterprise, whether IT is ready or not. Whether an executive brought in a Surface Book, or an employee is using a home PC that they upgraded, people are already using Windows 10 devices, and they expect IT to support them.

Unfortunately, most enterprise IT organisations are not ready. There are a lot of important corporate applications that currently only work on previous versions of Windows. And lots of web applications that work fine on the latest version of Internet Explorer won’t work with the new Microsoft Edge browser. Not that the irate VP calling the IT help desk cares. So what’s a CIO or IT manager to do?

The good news is that secure app and desktop delivery technology – sometimes referred to as application and desktop virtualization – offers proven options to keep things working for anyone using Windows 10, while additional migration tools enable IT to manage a controlled transition to the new operating system for the rest of the organisation. Based on proven migration best practices, IT organisations have successfully used these technologies in a three-step process to manage operating system upgrades like the move to Windows 10. These steps include:

1. Maintain secure access to key business applications
2. Test for app compatibility with Windows 10
3. Virtualize Windows 10 desktops

Step One: Maintain secure access to key business applications

The top priority for IT is to make sure everyone who has brought a Windows 10 device to work has secure access to the business applications they need, especially if one of those people happens to be a C-level executive. One of the most time-tested, dependable ways to maintain business continuity is with server-based computing solutions.

This technology provides an effective way to deliver Windows and web-based applications to any device, including new Windows 10 PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The technology works by deploying the business application on a server or in the cloud, and then securely delivering the app virtually through a software agent installed on the Windows 10 device.

As long as the secure app delivery vendor offers a Windows 10 compatible receiving agent, the employee can easily access their critical apps, and can easily continue their work on their new device. This approach has a long track record of helping IT organisations successfully navigate other operating system migrations.

Step Two: Test for app compatibility with Windows 10

Business applications may work fine on new Windows 10 devices, but what about all the other devices people use? To make sure they do before migrating the rest of the organisation to Windows 10, IT needs to test applications for compatibility. Just a few short years ago, this process involved sequestering a group of engineers in a room and having them install and test each and every business application. This was a grueling, time-consuming process that took weeks, or even months, and involved batch scripts and command lines to automate as much of the testing process as possible.

Today, IT managers can use automated migration tools that can scan application libraries, read the DNA of each application and generate a report of what apps are compatible with the new operating system, and which applications will not work. Some tools automatically fix minor application compatibility issues, and provide detailed recommendations for applications that require significant modifications before they will work on Windows 10. In many cases, these migration tools cut the time involved in app compatibility testing and remediation to a fraction of the time required for a manual process.

Step Three: Virtualize Windows 10 desktops

Another time-tested process for new operating system upgrades involves using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to set up the new OS in advance of the rollout so that less adventurous employees have a chance to try the new system before going through a complete migration. Even in today’s world, where people are more comfortable adapting to new devices and operating systems, it makes sense to stand up a Windows 10 golden image using VDI, and then publish the new OS to a test group to let them become acclimated to the new Windows environment while staying productive on their existing Windows desktop.

Even if IT managers are confident their organisation will embrace Windows 10, it’s prudent to use VDI for a rolling deployment to departments by publishing the apps and desktops in a progressive manner, publishing to more and more employees as desired. For standardised employee profiles, this approach is particularly effective for reducing desktop management long-term costs and complexity, while using secure app delivery where greater employee flexibility is needed.

Ready or not, Windows 10 is moving into the enterprise. At the same time, IT organisations can confidently depend on time-tested steps to maintain business continuity and access to critical applications, migrate applications to the new system, and introduce the new OS in a controlled, secure way.

Calvin Hsu, VP of product marketing, Windows App Delivery, Citrix

Image Credit: rvlsoft / Shutterstock