Archive | September 2018

Yet more Windows announcements – MMD, WVD – what does it mean?

September has certainly been a busy month for people involved in the End User marketplace and particularly those tracking the Windows 7 to Windows 10 transition.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about two really key announcements, the first relating to the extension to Windows as a Service (or Evergreen) support ability for Enterprise users (up to 30 months) and also the confirmed availability of Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 7 beyond its planned end date of January 2020.

Both of these announcements are good news for businesses.  The first giving more time to deploy updates in complex estates and providing more stability to the desktop environment.  The second provides transparency to customers on the impact of not completing their migration from Windows 7 by 2020.  To take ESU will get expensive for customers of a given scale, but its a back-stop solution and allows for an informed business case for completing the move to Windows 10.  The harsh reality is the enterprise was never going to have completed this by January 2020 anyway, so Microsoft providing an option early diffuses the issue somewhat.

But that’s old news.   In the past two weeks there have been two other announcements that are worth noting, as placed alongside the existing announcements add more option, maybe more complexity to the migration planning situation

Microsoft Managed Device (MMD)

Computacenter are delighted to have been chosen as an initial launch partner for Microsoft’s “MMD” offering.   We have been working closely with Microsoft as the MMD concept has developed and matured and are excited about the opportunity this brings both to ourselves and our customers in helping them transform to a Modern Workplace powered by Microsoft 365 and cloud technologies.

This strategy aligns completely to our Digital Me proposition which we’ve been using to help our customers transform to a modern workplace environment and enable their users and develop significant business performance from a truly mobile and collaborative workplace.

We will be working in partnership with Microsoft as MMD develops in the coming months and are excited by the opportunities to enhance our existing solutions and accelerate the transformation to the Modern Workplace.

For further details, we’ll be talking about this topic in a specific presentation at Microsoft Future Decoded on 31st October at the London ExCel centre. 

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

At Microsoft Ignite in Orlando this week, Microsoft announced WVD.  This is a very significant, not least as Microsoft themselves have held up this market for many years with complicated and restrictive licensing models that effectively prohibited running Client Operating Systems in this kind of way.

But times change and Microsoft have now announced that this too will be available (Soon) allowing you to run Windows 10 Virtual Desktops in the Azure platform.  Citrix were also quick out of the blocks to build on this announcement, adding more capability and function to the base Microsoft offer.

The really interesting bit in this is not the headline announcement itself.  Why? My view is that Public Cloud Desktop as a Service will find its own trajectory in the market based on organisations public cloud and security appetite and the classic application adjacency and performance issues – but nice that there is now a viable option in the market.

What caught my eye most was that Microsoft are offering Windows 7 ESU for free within the WVD proposition.  What does this mean? Basically you can charge on with the deployment to Windows 10 but for any of those troublesome apps or workstyles that Windows 7 is creating a constraint, you now have a containment strategy to host them on WVD without incurring the additional support costs.  There are nuances, you’ll clearly have to pay for the Azure resources to run this, but it gives yet another option to deal with the Windows 10 migration challenge.

WVD is in a limited preview stage and we’re awaiting more details on formal launch

Summary

Piece all of these announcements together and we’ve now got a number of different options and solutions to content with the transition to a Modern Desktop.  A few weeks all we really had was a date in early Jan 2020 that we knew the market was going to struggle to hit.  Microsoft have responded, and responded in force.

We’re looking forward to talking to customers about MMD in particular, but even aside from that all the other announcements are going to create some  different customer conversations through the rest of 2018 and 2019

Contact us for more details or come and see us at Future Decoded

Changes to Microsoft Windows Servicing and Support Models

A week ago today (6th September) Microsoft made two significant announcements relating to the Support of Windows 7 and the Servicing Model for Windows 10, commonly known as “Windows as a Service” or “Evergreen”.

Many organisations have been progressing at pace with the planning and delivery of their Workplace transformations, and these important announcements come at a critical time with approximately 15 months remaining support on the original Windows 7 End of Extended Support Deadline of 14 January 2020.

What Was Announced ?

Permanent Extension to Windows 10 Support Model

Microsoft operate a bi-annual release strategy for Windows 10, described commonly “Windows as a Service” (alternatively “Windows Evergreen”).  Each version of Windows 10 was to be supported for 18 months, significantly shorter than any previous version of Windows – and the source of much tension and concern within enterprise organisations. For those who have been following this as closely as I have, this culminated in an “Open Letter” to Microsoft about some of the issues that the regularity of these updates are causing, as well as the quality of the updates when issued!

Microsoft have now decided to amend the Windows service model, providing a longer support period for Enterprise and Education products .   Moving forwards Windows 10 will comprise a “Spring Release” (launched in circa March of each calendar year) and a “Fall Release” (launched in circa September of each calendar year).  Importantly, the Spring release will retain the default 18 month support lifecycle whilst the Fall release will be supported for 30 months.   The reason for the shorter support period for the Spring release is somewhat unclear, Microsoft suggest this is for customers with the agility to adopt at a faster pace, but this now seems unnecessary and uptake from enterprise organisations will, I feel, be very minimal for Spring release.

This announcement also applies to all existing (supported) versions of Windows 10, from 1607 onwards.

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) to January 2023

Windows 7 was due to end its extended support lifecycle on January 14th 2020 and it is this date that is helping to drive the transformation to the Modern Workplace and Windows 10.  Microsoft have announced they will now offer Windows 7 Security Updates through to 2023 for customers within the Volume Licensing Programmes.

This support will be available on a paid for basis (per device) and the costs for this support will increase year on year from 2020 to 2023 in order to encourage the transition to Windows 10.

What does this mean to my organisation?

These announcements are significant, and the fact that both changes were announced at the same time is an interesting move from Microsoft.  With over 250m commercial users of Windows 10 , the move from Win 7 to Windows 10 seemed to be a fairly embedded motion, and whilst these things are always complicated – many organisations are well progressed on this.   That said, estimates range that enterprise adoption of Windows 10 was sub 10%, and so clearly Microsoft needed to act and respond to feedback.

The extension to the support lifecycle for Windows 10 offers two key advantages.  The first is consistency of the version of Windows 10 being deployed  into larger estates.  Under the former model, the length of support allied with the rate of transition meant that many organisations would need to intercept a new Win 10 version midst their migration programme, and so potentially would have multiple “flavours” of Windows 10 in their environment.  With a longer support period this should be mitigated for many organisations.  Furthermore with an extended period of support gives a chance for a period of greater stability and for customers to extract further value from each release deployed.

What Should I do Next?

These announcements should not be a reason for complacency or to delay current activities.  Windows 7 was released in 2009 and in that time both the security landscape as well as the user experience expectations of users has changed dramatically.  Windows 10 offers a fresh and modern workplace platform that is  more secure and enables your users to be more productive and effective t.

We’d encourage organisations to continue to work towards the original January 2020 date for Windows 7 replacement within their estate. Whilst the cost for the further extended Win 7 support is not intended by Microsoft to be punitive, the funds could be better invested in more progressive solutions rather than in maintenance of older platforms.

However as ever, things are not always that simple and there are various other dynamics and considerations to contend with.  We are at a key point with regards to hardware chipsets transitions that impacts Windows 7 and Windows 10 supportability, with significant commercial considerations that need to be evaluated.   Added to that are the prevalent topics throughout 2018 of  “Device as a Service”  procurement models and technology evolution to modernise Deployment and Provisioning as just a few examples.  All of these factors need to be considered not least to enable you to make the transition to a Modern Workplace, but allow you to operate and manage it effectively in a world where the rate of change is going to be much faster than we’ve ever experienced below.

Finally just to say that in the cold light of these announcements Windows 10 is a three year old product, it is mature and a significant improvement on the prevalent Windows 7 environments within corporate IT.  Computacenter have been helping customers deploy and manage Windows 10 throughout this time period, so if you need any help or advice in this process, feel free to make contact with us.

Meeting about a Meeting?

boys

Have you ever been in that meeting about a meeting? In the busy lives that we lead, having unnecessary meetings puts a great burden on our valuable time and resources. What is worse is that often those meetings are not as productive as they should be due to the meeting space used and/or the technology provided, whether this be physical or virtual.

It is estimated that $37 Billion per year is spent globally on unproductive meetings and 15% of an organisation’s collective time is spent in meetings, and this has grown annually since 2008[1]

The problem is the one meeting about a meeting that should be taking place rarely happens. That’s the meeting with all the parts of the organisation which are involved in deciding how the meeting and collaboration spaces should look and function.

More Than Just a Room

When we think about the how and where people work, what the culture of the organisation is and the technology strategy employed, you can see that a variety of groups and stakeholders need to work together to provide input into the strategy around meeting rooms and collaboration spaces. I often engage with HR, Facilities, IT, End User Teams and of course the users themselves to ensure that we have a consolidated and agreed strategy leading to a better user experience.

It is imperative that the modern workplace with its diversity of collaboration tools, from the user devices through to the meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, enable a consistent user experience. Failure to do this often means that users become frustrated, efficiency and productivity drops, and meeting and collaboration spaces become a hindrance to productivity rather than an enabler.

In addition, all collaboration and meeting spaces need to have consistency across geographic locations and room type or size, enabling your users to be productive wherever they may be. But to ensure all of these elements work for your users, the end-to-end experience, from booking a meeting or collaboration space through to finding and using the space must be easy and intuitive, and this too is sometimes neglected.

Know Thy Space

Common problems that companies experience are Meeting spaces being the wrong type and size; often I see large meeting rooms with 2 people in them or vice versa, Meeting spaces show up as being booked yet a walk around the building shows many rooms unoccupied, further adding to the cost of unproductive meetings. People often search for meeting rooms if they don’t often use that particular office and can arrive late or flustered leaving them in the wrong mindset to be fully productive.

As space becomes more of a premium, better use of what you currently have, or changing the configuration of existing rooms becomes invaluable in getting the best usage and driving effective collaboration and meetings.

To help organisations drive toward a better collaborative meeting experience, Computacenter provide an advisory service called “Meeting Spaces Assessment Service” (MSAS).

MSAS

 

The service provides guidance on how best to shape and drive collaboration and meeting spaces based on the following criteria:

  • Understanding what is currently in place for the meeting and collaboration spaces including booking tools and room surveys
  • Examine the current tools being used and how these fit into the wider collaboration strategy
  • Have that meeting about meetings that really matter and bring the necessary stakeholders together to agree the approach
  • Speak with people who use the rooms and understand what opportunities there are to enhance the collaboration and meeting spaces
  • Provide clear guidance and costs associated with driving these changes into the business

We understand the challenges associated with enabling users to collaborate and engage across multiple devices, locations and technologies, and can help to solve these. Your employees won’t need to keep having unproductive meetings about meetings, if you  have that one meeting about all meetings, and set up your collaboration and meeting spaces to provide a great, consistent experience and enable your users to be more productive.

[1]https://www.inc.com/laura-montini/infographic/the-ugly-truth-about-meetings.html
%d bloggers like this: