In the first part of this article, we went over steps one through three of the path to a successful migration to a new version of Windows. With the release of Windows 10, many organizations will be looking to upgrade to the latest version of Windows (especially since the upgrade is currently free), but like any big IT project, careful planning is a must. Since it is early days in the life-cycle of this new OS, many applications you use may not be compatible, so that old adage, look before you leap, is especially appropriate here.
To recap the first two steps, the first is to take an inventory of your applications, and the second is to assess their compatibility with Windows 10. The third is to decide on an Incompatibility remediation path, and one of the options is to repackage or virtualize apps in order for them to work in a newer OS. I want to briefly expand on how this works.
Repacking or Virtualizing your Applications
While there is one more step that should be taken first before you actually start making your applications work with the new OS, once you’ve found out which ones won’t work, you need to decide what to do. One suggestion we made is to simply retire applications your company can live without However, if that isn’t an option, and the vendor isn’t planning to update (or won’t be updating it for some time) to add compatibility then you need another solution.
Application repacking tools can be used to change how applications are setup when installed, and what components it runs with. Sometimes it is simply a setting that causes issues with a new OS, and if you can fix this and create a new installer, when you roll it out to multiple machines there will be no need to make those changes to make it work after the fact.
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to work for a lot of apps, especially very old ones, so the next option is application virtualization. There are two main ways to virtualize your apps when moving to a new OS. One is to run a full virtualized version of your old OS within your new OS and use the incompatible applications from within there. However, this means that they are confined to that space and can’t communicate with the apps running in the new OS environment.
The other way is for each individual app to run in its own virtualized space, which means it can still interact with the rest of the new OS, but still thinks it is running on an older version of Windows. This is probably the best approach, and Lanworks provides the tools and services needed to help you virtualize your applications.
Step 4: Plan
While this step may seem obvious, many projects start without a proper plan in place, which can lead to disaster. You need to work on the duration and cost of the project, and what resources are needed. At this time you may realize that some of your hardware is insufficient to run the new version of Windows, so need to plan to procure new equipment. Again, Lanworks has years of experience in helping our customers plan for big projects, and we can help with this.
Step 5: Fix your Applications and Prepare your Users and Create an OS Image.
Now that you know what needs to be done to make all your applications work and have a plan in place for the migration, it is time to start the process. The first part is the often lengthily process of repacking or virtualizing all the applications your plan to use. Now is also the time to prepare your users for the migration. While automated tools are supposed to migrate personal settings over from the old OS to the new one, things can always go wrong, so have them back up these settings.
Also, while you’d hope that your users are keeping their important work data on your servers rather than locally on their machines, many of them probably have important information stored locally. You’ll either need to use client backup tools to save the data before the migration, or have the users do this manually themselves.
You’ll also at this time want to create the master OS image that you’ll use to roll out. You’ll want to include all the core applications that all of your users need in this image. For different departments who may need additional apps that they only use, these can be deployed separately.
Step 6: The Last Step, Deploy your New OS
With all the work done before, to be honest, this stage is probably the easiest and shortest. You should have the right hardware, all your applications prepared, all of your user’s settings and data backed up and a deployment plan in place and an image created of the new OS. All that needs to be done is to deploy the image and setup any additional apps.
Lanworks provides tools that can automate that process too, and, of course, you can stage the deployment since you probably don’t want to upgrade the entire company at once. How you stage the deployment is something that would be done in the planning stage, and it could be by department, by geographic location, or simply be broken down into number of users, like say 50 or 100 at a time.
Lanworks can Help Automate your Migration
As you can see, achieving a successful pain-free companywide migration to a new operating system is no small task, no matter if your company is big or small. In order not to tie up you IT staff, automating as much of this process as possible is the best approach.
Our Lifecycle Management team provides and supports a complete set of tools that do this. For example, we offer tools that can repackage and virtualize your applications and help create your new OS image. We can then help you automate the deployment of that image, and also any additional applications your users may need. We can even help you set up a self-serve portal so your users can install needed applications themselves instead of take up your IT staff’s time.
By following these steps and engaging our servers, your migration to Windows 10 will surely be a success.