Unisys VP Sam Gross has been in the news quite a bit lately since he posted a blog last week (April 28, last Thursday) entitled Busting Windows 7 Migration Myths. His reports on a recent Unisys customer survey indicate that more than twice as many respondents (53%) either “haven’t started” or are “not migrating” to Windows 7, as compared to those who are currently migrating to the newest Windows desktop OS (21%). It’s not clear if that means the remaining 26% not covered in those categories have already migrated, but I suspect that’s the case as that number squares with other reports on Windows 7 migration rates in the business community.
Some analysts and commentators have taken this report as evidence of pique from Unisys — a major Microsoft partner, and one heavily involved in business computing services, including numerous high-profile, large-scale upgrades to Windows 7 — but I’m not sure that’s really what’s going on here. In this blog posting, Gross goes on to recount five myths about Windows 7 migration that he and his team have undoubtedly encountered in selling and delivering their services to the business marketplace. These not only make interesting reading, but they also point to a situation that spells increasing interest and unbridled optimism about what Windows 7 can do for enterprise networks:
- Businesses begin with an accurate sense of migration scope. Gross quickly debunks this myth, and recommends that organizations spend up to 3 months conducting an in-depth inventory “that includes all the hardware and software that touch the desktop.” He also recommends upgrading “high-dependency apps prio to the migration,” with “sufficient time to test applications prior to rollout.”
- Windows 7 fits seamlessly into current desktop architectures. Any time a new OS hits the network, it’s necessary to “…verify compatibility, and upgrade or replace aging or outdated components…” and to “…add network capacity as needed.” I agree with his observation that desktop infrastructure always needs work when a new OS hits the network, its servers, and support and management tools involved.
- Windows 7 extends the life of current PCs. Maybe, but not necessarily a good idea! Extending the life of older PC hardware can increase TCO, according to Gross, and fails to enable organizations to exploit newer graphics hardware, higher RAM capacities, faster, bigger disks, and faster CPUs to boost productivity. His advice: “Be sure to build time and cost into your migration project plan to allow for hardware refreshes.”
- Migrating to Windows 7 automatically lowers IT costs. Sure, Windows 7 can “…improve efficiencies and cut computing costs,” as Gross observes, but that doesn’t translate into reduced IT overhead and costs unless the entire infrastructure is upgraded along with the OS, and that takes time and effort, and costs money, too. Processes and procedures often must also be tweaked (and carefully monitored) to maximise efficiency and productivity. There’s nothing automatic about any of these things: hard work, careful planning and deployment, and ongoing maintenance are all required.
- Windows 7 automatically reduces the management burden. The OS does not manage a desktop environment for or by itself. A migration can (and should) provide an opportunity to rethink and rebuild desktop infrastructure to make desktops more standardized and more manageable, but here again, there’s a lot of time, effort, thought, planning, and investment involved in getting things right. Nothing automatic here, either.
To those who say Gross sounds unhappy with the rate of Windows 7 adoptions, I say “bunk!” His blog, and the Unisys business plan, read a lot more like a savvy, experienced IT services company trying to cultivate more business, than a complaint against slow Windows 7 migration at the enterprise level. Trust me: It’s not a problem, it’s a real opportunity, and one that I believe Unisys wants to ride to improved financial results.