We did those posts last week on Windows 7 migration and what Gartner thinks and we heard from a few people who beg to differ. One of the notes we received was from Aaron Suzuki, co-founder and CEO of Prowess, a Seattle-based managed services provider, consulting company and Microsoft Gold Partner whose SmartDeploy Enterprise is a Windows deployment solution. So we shot off a few questions to Aaron and we shall publish his replies in two parts, starting henceforth with this:
The Techster: You say your take on realistic timelines for Windows 7 migration is somewhat different than what the bigger analysts are saying. From what you are seeing, what are realistic timetables and why are your suggestions different?
Aaron Suzuki: Frankly, I’m not sure why our observations are so much different from analyst projections. We are hearing directly from customers at every level – from CTOs to desktop support techs – that they’re in no hurry. So our perspective is based solely upon what we’re hearing from customers. I’m sure analysts are talking to customers, but I think they are also factoring in things like the end-of-life date and other factors like that, but most organizations we talk to don’t care. They might be preparing or testing, but many of them have no particular timeframe for migration established and have no anxiety about it at all.
A realistic timetable at an organizational level is completely subjective. It is going to vary tremendously organization to organization. But it is logical that larger organizations with a larger, more diverse baseline of applications and orders of magnitude more desktops will take much longer to migrate. From our perspective, an overall timetable for the vast majority of businesses to complete migration to Windows 7 will be late 2014. The natural question then is about “Windows.next” and it’s availability relative to customers’ deployment timeframes. The thing everyone needs to appreciate –the Windows ISV community, system integrators, resellers, and especially Microsoft themselves – is that customers have their own computing agenda and not everyone is a geek like us and is hungry for the next fancy OS. Another critical consideration is because of the growing number of options available (consider desktop virtualization and cloud) I think we’ll see an increasingly lethargic response from customers in response to pressure to update the desktop OS frequently.
The Techster: What steps should organizations take to prepare for a Windows 7 migration?
Aaron Suzuki: They need to plan, plan, and plan. They need to look at everything from their hardware refresh plan to application compatibility to security and test everything like crazy. Many organizations spent a lot of money making XP do things that Windows 7 does natively, like disk encryption. It is important to determine whether you’re going to stick with the solution you’ve devised or just go with what’s in the box with Windows.
A lot of companies skipped Vista, so there was some critical planning that would have accompanied that move and that is ground that still needs to be covered, especially regarding application compatibility and IE compatibility. And with that lesson learned, looking to Windows.next, even if you plan to skip an OS internally it is good to test and learn it so you know what’s going on as technology evolves, and you can minimize pain and save time when you are ready to move.
This is also a great time to reevaluate and retool deployment processes. Our own product notwithstanding, there are some great tools and new technologies that can make it so much easier to get Windows to the end point and installed with minimal headaches. It’s worth an investment of time to see what’s out there and what will be useful for the long term. People might be surprised what you can do with one ordinary IT person. Windows deployment doesn’t have to be the rocket science that many tools require it to be.
That’s it for now. In our next post we will ask Aaron about potential pitfalls and time frames. Stay tuned.