Infrastructure Services are definitely undergoing a major transformation. How does one navigate the web of emerging technology trends and stay ahead of the game? Read on to learn more on our Infra Matters blog.

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May 23, 2013

Migrating away from Windows XP - are your applications ready ?

(Published on behalf of Atul Kumar)

 

With the deadline for extended support for Windows XP coming up fast (April 2014), migrating away from Windows XP is a high priority program for most organizations. However, migration to a new operating system (OS) does not come without expense and hassle. One of the tough questions organizations need to answer is - How can applications on Windows XP make the trip to the newer versions of Windows i.e. Windows 7 and/or Windows 8?


Typical enterprise deployment can take 12-24 months depending on the business complexity. If you are starting migration from XP to another OS, it is crucial that you begin rationalizing the enterprise application list and then perform application compatibility testing on the target OS. In most cases, 70% of the organization's transactions run from legacy applications, and there are thousands of applications installed across distributed network. This means that the migration to a new OS can be treated as an opportunity to vet the current state of the application repository.

This scrutiny may lead you to discover applications that are sitting idle and not utilized by business. Once these applications are filtered out and the application compatibility tests are completed, you can identify the applications which can be moved as-is and the applications that need remediation. Remediation can then be done through strategic method (source code changes) or tactical method (tool based environment or configuration changes). Tool based testing and remediation approach can help reduce the effort required to remediate incompatible applications.

Organizations started planning for Windows 7 migrations when Microsoft announced the release way back in 2009. While some did a wait-and-watch, there were few early adopters.  Reach, a Hong Kong based telecommunication provider was one of the early adopters and engaged with Infosys to transform its end-user computing (EUC) environment. The client faced several challenges including a distinct lack of standardization of desktops and applications, security due to localized data, high IT support costs and poor user experience due to legacy hardware.  These problems had started impacting them on multiple fronts- cost, speed, efficiency, productivity and performance.
Infosys started with the assessment of their current infrastructure and provided a roadmap to address the gaps. We rationalized and reduced the future-state application count by 90% and introduced new technologies like SCCM, AV and firewall, self-backup and recovery, email archival, App-V and Outlook web access while migrating to Windows 7. This was surely a herculean task, but it resulted in a host of benefits for the client such as reduced downtime, faster recovery, improved IT management and productivity and performance gains.

Click here to read the detailed case study.

April 17, 2013

Are you ready for a future without Windows XP?

(Posted on behalf of Shalini Chandrasekharan)

In less than 12 months, that most perfect and benign operating system named Windows XP, will be officially laid to rest.

A number of ardent XP supporters will agree with me when I say that filling in the gaps left behind by Windows XP is likely to be a long and arduous process. However, the impact of staying on with Windows XP after the deadline of April 7, 2014, may not be a good idea at all.

This infographic highlights exactly what it would cost to stick on with Windows XP and the kind of challenges that come up in migration.

What do you think?

Continue reading "Are you ready for a future without Windows XP?" »

March 26, 2013

Windows 8 - Read the fine print

(Posted on behalf of Atul Kumar)

Much has been said about the adoption of Windows 8 by enterprises. There is no doubt that Windows 8 is a brilliant platform and comes with a multitude of stunning features. However, every time a new operating system comes into the market, the first question you ask is "what about system requirements?" Or "do I need to get rid of my PC?" 

While most operating systems do not require a major hardware overhaul, Windows 8 is packed with features that are likely to necessitate changes. And, if you are migrating from an older version - Windows XP, the entire hardware stack may need to be upgraded.

Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 can all be upgraded to Windows 8, but there is a limit on how much hardware can be carried forward. Essentially, enterprises that are on Windows 7 can take off for Windows 8 any time, but it is recommended that the hardware should have higher specifications to run additional programs effectively and to provide a better user experience. 

 
This article from Microsoft, explains in detail, the system requirements for Windows 8.  Windows 8 is the first operating system with the ability to support mobile computing in an enterprise environment. This is a significant achievement for organizations dealing with the increasing infiltration of mobile computing and employee owned devices in the workplace as it will enable them to standardize their operating environment. One of the key issues inhibiting the adoption of enterprise mobility has been the lack of a standard operating environment that would allow organizations to control the environment. And the launch of Windows 8 offers a way to integrate traditional desktop and mobile computing in the enterprise.


However, there are several inconspicuous requirements and recommendations that one should be aware of. For instance, there are major changes in the licensing norms for Windows 8 for virtual machines as per Microsoft's Purchase Use Rights (PUR) document. This will impact the licensing costs associated with Windows 8.


In the paper titled -'Is your IT Infrastructure ready for Windows 8?' we explore six important considerations to evaluate the readiness the IT infrastructure for the move to Windows 8. The article can be accessed here

March 14, 2013

April 8, 2014 is no fool's day

(Published on behalf of Vivin George)

 

Did you know that the etymology of word "April" is from the Latin "aperire", meaning "to open"? It is the season when trees and flowers begin to "open".  However, it is ironic that the month of April in 2014 would be known for the 'closure' of Windows XP.

We all agree that Windows XP has been a great success for Microsoft and users alike, but I guess every good thing comes to an end for the next best thing. This article from the Microsoft blog explains in great detail, the impact of not migrating from Windows XP.  You'll be amazed by the figures quoted in this article.
The biggest whopper- If you stay on Windows XP beyond 2014, it is likely to cost 5 times more than running Windows 7 - consider the hole that is going to create in your IT budget!

But the death of Windows XP is not the only thing we have to deal with. In October 2012, Microsoft launched a new and radically different platform - Windows 8. With its release, now we have two options to choose from - Windows 7 and Windows 8. Both of these platforms have their own pluses and minuses. This calls for a good analysis of what you want from your operating system (OS).
Windows 8 is a product which could mean remarkably different things to organizations, based on usage, budget and user demographics. If yours is the kind of organization where mobility and social media have been infiltrating the workplace, you can leverage Windows 8 to integrate mobile computing with traditional desktop based computing.

On the other hand, Windows 7 is an excellent platform and is popular with consumers, especially enterprises. It has been around for four years and is a stable OS with most independent software vendors (ISV) having certified their applications for this platform. If you are looking for faster upgrade, reduced risk and standardized computing environments, Windows 7 is a way to go.

Given that Windows 8 has plenty of new features and needs ample support from the hardware perspective, it is clear that migration from Windows XP to Windows 8 is a big jump.  Moreover, most of the folks involved in the last rollout have either retired or are now part of the C-suites today!

So, it is imperative that organizations do a careful evaluation of business and technical factors to ensure the success of migration.
There cannot be a single solution or a thumb rule to migrate from Windows XP. In fact, this migration can open a "window" of opportunity for organizations to mull over how they see themselves in the next 10 years. Can this migration be combined with the cleanup of legacy systems or applications? Should the organization embrace enterprise mobility and BYOD? When organizations think through these basic questions, they can pick and choose the platform that fits the bill.

January 23, 2013

Windows 8 for a mobile world

(Posted on behalf of Shalini Chandrasekharan)

Microsoft has launched its latest OS version in 2012 - simply named Windows 8. Its predecessor - Windows 7 was launched in 2009 and has since then, stabilized quite well with market adoption edging close to 50%. According to estimates from market watcher NetApplications, Windows 8 seems to have garnered close to 1% of the market.

Much has already been said about this revamped version - its unique 'Metro' style UI, revamped BitLocker, Windows To Go and Dynamic Access Control to name a few. However, depending on whom you have read, Windows 8 may either be the best thing ever to hit desktop computing or is expected to fizzle out as a damp squib.

The reason for this has to do with the nature of changes brought in Windows 8 as opposed to its predecessor Windows 7. Windows 7 was a clear step up from Windows XP with well defined upgrades that also required a hardware refresh in most cases. Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 is already underway for most organizations as it is an extensive process involving application migration and remediation.

In contrast, Windows 8 basically retains the core underpinnings of Windows 7 especially  software license compliance and policy management being the same. The major difference is that Windows 8 looks beyond the simple PC to other form factors such as tablets and smartphones. its touch based support service enables organizations to support employee owned devices or BYOD programs.

While the invasion of consumer IT into business has definitely started with the advent of smart devices, the uptake of allowing employees to bring their own devices has been slow due to various reasons, security being one of them. With Microsoft releasing Windows 8, it enables organizations to choose from multiple device form factors enabling users with different requirements. But this could lead to a different problem for organizations since most of the installed base comprises of traditional laptops and desktops which do not allow a complete leverage of the touch enabled 'Metro UI'. In this sense, Gartner may be right - 'Windows 8 is a big gamble for Microsoft'.

However, most experts believe that it may be too early to really comment on the success or failure of the launch since it usually takes organizations about 10-18 months to pilot, analyze and decide on migration. The added deadline of April 2014, when Microsoft will formally end the extended support for its Windows XP version, is another consideration for organzations. Windows 7 may be an easier fit than Windows 8 however, in the longer run, Windows 8 may prove to be a better choice especially if a new version of Windows in expected.

 

 

October 22, 2010

Securing Virtual Desktop Environment - Part 2

As outlined in my previous blog, securing a VDI environment needs focused attention.

 

One of the key advantages to desktop virtualization is the ability to create on-demand dynamic desktops specific to the user's role within the organisation. The users are authenticated and connected to desktop sessions via a software component called Connection broker.

 

The way in which IT departments manage user identities, authenticate systems and enforce access policies across the corporate network, all need to be thought through in the context of a new VDI environment. Having a centralised point of management for user identities, access rights, IT policies and auditing is vitally important.

 

The connection broker controls the access permissions to specific desktop and applications. Organizations should have the capability to ensure that the Connection broker is not compromised, by making use of strong authentication factors, such as biometrics authentication, password or token, etc. This ensures that the employee logging in has the rights and permissions to access the virtual desktop.

 

Have you come across or defined any specific strategies for identify management for VDI.? Share your thoughts on this...