Desktop lifecycle management and Windows 10 migration
Wed 22 Jun 2016
Today’s desktop can most definitely be described as true ‘hybrids’ with many organisations deploying a variety of physical, virtual, cloud, and mobile desktops to deliver their business the flexibility and agility required to maintain a competitive edge. Satisfying user demands has always been a ‘poisoned chalice’ for those working in IT and helpdesk environments; without users they don’t have a job, but they can be the most demanding of customers!
I heard at a recent VDI Conference that it is now less about “what you can do” with technology but more “what can you enable people to do.” We’re no longer focusing on what technology can do in terms of features and benefits, but discovering how that technology is delivering business value.
So, how do we keep our users happy when undergoing a desktop transformation, such as migrating to Windows 10? Well, there are a number of tried and tested steps that I’d like to share with you to help you on your transformation journey. These steps include base-lining your environment first so that you can always provide statistical information to demonstrate if the new environment is better or worse than before. Another key step is harvesting all your user personas in a seamless way that enables them to have things like their bookmarked websites, backgrounds and printer settings available in the new environment, by using a User Environment Management (UEM) solution.
Utilise technology like application layering to dramatically decrease the support of multiple applications and OSes and, finally, monitoring the User Experience (UX) new environment continuously to identify and diagnose potential issues, bottlenecks etc. in a proactive way. There is nothing like solving an issue before the user even reports it!
Steps to aid a successful Windows 10 migration
Prepare the legacy environment for migration readiness
Ensure you use a qualified third-party solution that makes profiles seamlessly compatible across Windows OS versions. Choosing the right solution will manage user profiles and data separately from the Windows OS and will end Windows migrations for users in the future. In fact – the more this migration of physical IP assets (documents, settings, policies, configurations) can be accomplished without user downtime or after hours diligence, the better. Solutions abound that might get you partially migrated – it is important to focus on those that delivery totality of migration.
Redirect key Windows shell folders per best practices. These include, but are not limited to, My Documents, Desktop, and Pictures. Documents and data are often stored here by default by most programs. Capturing these key locations helps to ensure that no data critical to business operations is left behind. Certain User Environment Management solutions can automate the process of redirecting and moving key Windows shell folders.
A migration project is also a great time to plan your application delivery strategy
Assess Users’ Applications, usage patterns, and hardware. Know which applications will be needed in the new environment by knowing which applications they actually use. In fact, many organisations of varying sizes are using this migration opportunity to rationalise and optimise their applications. Meaning, no longer is it good enough to back all applications into a core image, which perpetuates complexity and sprawl that is difficult to manage and control.
Application layering, cloud, and virtualisation allow us to deliver applications on demand, just in time. Next, we size the hardware, network, and storage required for the new environment accordingly basing this solidly on the usage patterns we observed via assessment.
Additionally, we are now enabled to use this data to base-line the user experience (UX) of the legacy environment. The goal of any technology adoption is to improve productivity for our users, staff, and budgets – with base-lining we have quantifiable metrics to show us how we are improving.
As mentioned previously, a migration project is also a great time to plan your application delivery strategy. While you may be considering SaaS applications, application layering and isolation, and server hosted published applications – use your usage pattern assessment data to intelligently determine how, when, and what apps to deliver with each technology.
Ensure the new environment is delivering a better, more productive, desktop
If you choose your UEM solution carefully, its capabilities will include the ability to deliver a dynamic user profile that can be adapted in real-time to Windows 10 or any other Windows desktop/server OS. Advanced options in UEM may include context/conditional aware settings that will also adapt to users’ environments. These capabilities include follow-me print mapping, policies and security settings. Furthermore, Windows registry keys may be modified for conditional awareness or to correct application behavior when desired.
In any desktop transformation you will always have the human element challenge
Next, you’ll want to ensure that the User Experience (UX) in the new environment is a quality one. A well-designed UX solution will not only be able to monitor UX in the new environment, but will be able to help diagnose root causes of poor UX. Some UX solutions can also be used in the assessment phase above and, if you’ve assessed the legacy environment with the same solution, you will have established benchmarks for performance. Once armed with this data you’ll be able to prove that you are meeting/exceeding UX ratings and know, at a glance, if you are/are not delivering a better desktop. Continuously monitoring UX also enables you to pre-empt any likely issues and help you to grow and scale your desktops with a quality UX in mind.
In any desktop transformation you will always have the human element challenge. We don’t like change, and once we know that it’s taken place, we are more than likely to say, “it worked better before”, right? This is why I strongly advocate base-lining the old environment, base-lining the new and using empirical data to prove to either the business or the users that you are indeed delivering a better desktop than before. Obviously, if the data shows there are issues then you can use that data to remediate the cause. With some monitoring solutions they will also provide you a suggested course of action to mitigate the issue.
Lastly, ensure that any UEM solution you choose is equipped to help future proof your users against further OS versions. Since the launch of Windows 10 Microsoft has changed the user profile format three times! If your UEM solution can adapt the users’ profile, you’ll avoid user migrations in the future.