As the day marking the end of Windows XP support looms ahead, Dell Inc. has launched a new program for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to migrate away from the outdated operating system and to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.
Microsoft Corp. has said it will stop supporting and patching Windows XP on April 8, 2014. That means if businesses are still running the 12-year-old operating system, they stand a much greater chance of becoming open to hackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities in their systems.
With that end date in sight, Dell has packaged together several modules into the Windows Migration Fast Forward Service, geared towards helping SMBs make the jump if they haven’t already. The Fast Forward service can help businesses migrate up to 5,000 PCs.
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The goal is to help customers move faster on their migrations, says Jefferson Raley, consulting offer development manager at Dell. He adds the company’s migration services include application management, searching for all the relevant applications a customer uses in its daily work. It tries to automatically install packages for the applications so an IT technician doesn’t have to make the trip to each and every computer to update it for Windows 7 or 8.
Dell’s Fast Forward Service also includes a tool called Client Deployment Manager, a cloud-based service that tracks user communications and monitors a system’s progress as it migrates to the more recent versions of Windows.
Then, for the actual migration process, Dell has tried to automate the process as much as possible, ensuring IT technicians don’t need to visit every computer and making it easier for less technical users to install updates themselves.
However, to make the migration process go more smoothly, the company has had to customize these services to fit as many kinds of businesses as possible, Raley says. He added Dell has packaged modules to try to fit SMBs’ needs, but of course each SMB will need to tailor that package even further to fit its specific IT environment, he adds.
“In some cases, it makes a lot of sense to use a technician. For instance, in a campus environment, where you’re getting a lot of new computers, you don’t want your end users unboxing the computers, plugging them in, and dealing with that. Technicians make a lot of sense,” Raley says.
“But if it’s somebody who’s remote, works from home, they’re using a notebook, well, they can unlock the notebook and do the physical install themselves. And they can trigger this process to actually finish provisioning the computer.”
The hope is to also get customers to start thinking about the future, he adds. Dell also has strategies in place for SMBs looking to adopt a bring your own device policy in the workplace, as well as a plan for helping them to become more mobile and to take advantage of desktop virtualization.
So far, Dell has seen many customers who have at least started making the transition, but haven’t changed over all of their computers and devices yet, Raley says. He adds he’s seen many businesses opt for Windows 7 over Windows 8, but he expects Windows 8.1 to be more of an attraction for them once it’s released.
While Raley said he doesn’t believe it’s too late for companies to start making the switch to Windows 7 or 8, he said it’s definitely time for them to get a move on.
“Things are getting tight and depending on where organizations are in that migration, the timeline is getting tighter and tighter,” he says. “So we definitely think people need to move quickly and get in front of this, because as the deadline gets closer and closer, the cost of migration does go up because you have to cram more work into a smaller period of time.”
Pricing Dell’s Fast Forward Services depends on the packaged modules organizations choose to purchase.