Migration is never pretty. But it doesn't have to be the tedious, inefficient process it has been in the past, thanks to better technology and tools.
If your IT department needs to make a Windows upgrade, and has also been considering virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), now is the time to act. VDI platforms like Quest Workspace Desktop Virtualization can improve the overall efficiency and security of your desktop infrastructure and make your migration go much smoother and quicker.
Many businesses using Windows XP are still procrastinating or struggling to migrate their desktops to Windows 7 before Microsoft ends support for XP in April 2014. The more adventurous of you may be planning to take Windows 8 for a spin after the launch later this month. Incorporating VDI into your migration can make things work better, and it has the potential to provide significant savings.
At least that's what many in the industry say. John Rolls, vice president of product management at Quest, acquired by Dell in September, writes in an article for Enterprise Systems, "Despite the initial reports, hosting Windows 7 or 8 virtual desktops in the data center, using a low-cost solution for automated management and connection, can be very cost effective, especially if you use commodity hardware with inexpensive SSD hard drives for shared storage instead of a SAN." Rolls also notes that increased usage of Hyper-V and low-cost management tools can further add to savings.
One of the major challenges in a migration is the condition of the desktops or devices your users have now, and whether they are even able to run the new OS. In the past, taking a physical inventory of client devices and upgrading any necessary processors, storage, memory, or security software to meet required standards of a new OS was a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Adopting desktop virtualization together with a Windows migration can help avoid unnecessary hardware upgrades and quickly and easily deploy prerequisite upgrades, as well as the new OS, across a company's full range of systems, rather than in the familiar patchwork, manual method.
Using VDI and associated tools can also minimize application problems. Businesses often use thousands of different applications, and you can't assume these will all be compatible with Windows 7 or 8. Identifying those with problems is yet another big undertaking, involving application analysis, testing, remediation, and conversion, in many cases. Software tools such as ChangeBASE from Quest Software allow IT departments to automate these tasks, greatly simplifying and reducing the time dedicated to application compatibility.
Moving to virtual desktops during your Windows migration can also help ease some of the pain of BYOD initiatives, which are on everyone's mind in IT right now. Once VDI is deployed, it instantly becomes accessible from all kinds of desktop, laptop, and tablet devices, from any location. Tools like those in Quest's User Workspace Management portfolio can even recognize the device accessing the virtual desktop and create a device-specific workspace for that user.
VDI has many other benefits. It improves overall desktop management, security, and patch management; makes disaster recovery much easier; and provides increased support for mobile and remote workers, among other attributes. But if you are in the market to migrate to Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should take a serious look at the advantages it can provide for what could otherwise be a messy experience.