Windows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.
Facing the end of Windows XP
With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.
To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT.
Mastering the transition from Windows XP to Windows 7
One of the biggest challenges in the plan was preparing the organization’s disparate arms for the transition. While it attempted to run under one IT umbrella, the organization’s 12 regional agencies actually ran their IT infrastructure autonomously, making it impossible to know what applications each region supported and difficult to identify differing end-user requirements. The agency also housed thousands of personalized applications in numerous unconnected portfolios.
To help streamline the number of applications, we sat down with the agency’s centralized IT office to develop an application rationalization process. We assessed current user requirements and determined useful and excess applications. We then developed an application library for imaging and application tools that offered one version of an application to help create a uniform and controlled system for regional application use. This ensured that the entire agency used approved applications and eliminated the need for rogue downloads, putting power in the hands of management rather than end users.
The benefits of migrating from Windows XP
By assessing regional processes and working with end users, SHI streamlined the agency’s IT environment, which was vital to a smooth Windows 7 migration. SHI remained under budget and converted some 11,000 laptops and desktops in just under two months. This kept the company inside the service extension window, minimizing the risks associated with running on an unsupported operating system. All PCs and laptops were loaded with Windows 7 and retained images and applications specific to each user. We also kept individual end-user downtime under an hour. Not only was the implementation a success, but the switch to Windows 7 actually boosted agency productivity, as it reduced end-user downtime by 50 percent.
This case underscores the importance of fully documented and tested processes. By defining each agency’s requirements and emerging with an organized and centralized process for downloading applications, the organization not only streamlined its operating system migration, but will be able to reduce the time and effort of support moving forward. The Windows XP migration stood as the perfect opportunity for the agency to reassess its current IT infrastructure.
For that reason, those who have yet to make the transition from Windows XP shouldn’t view it as a hassle. Instead, it’s a perfect opportunity for organizations to take a hard look at their current IT systems and implement better procedures. If your company is overwhelmed with the Windows XP migration, email me at Rick_Bowman@SHI.com for guidance.