Ready… set… move your app portfolio to Windows 10

By | 3 minute read | October 21, 2018

One of the big moves underway in the enterprise digital workplace is the migration from Windows 7 and XP to Windows 10.

This is a substantial move, in no small part because of the changes Windows 10 brings to how enterprises can manage their standard platforms.

For example:

  • Use of device management APIs (formally mobile device management)
  • Six-month release cycles rather than the a 3 to 5 year service-pack cycle
  • Built-in biometric security (i.e., Windows Hello)

That is the good news.

The challenge is in order to fully realize the benefits Windows 10 provides, most enterprises have to reengineer how they acquire, deploy, manage and maintain their end-use computing platform. (Make that the base platform, Windows 10 and the enterprise application portfolio that the platform supports.)

For Windows 10 in an enterprise digital workplace, to keep the environment current and supported requires near continuous update cycle of their platforms. So extensive integration testing of the platform (Windows 10) onto a standardized hardware model, with the integration of the enterprise application portfolio, is unsustainable.

How to ensure business capabilities remain current amidst continuous Windows 10 updates?

I suggest a three-stage approach.

Stage 1: Understand your application portfolio and how it is used
Every enterprise needs to understand what applications are being used and by whom. The objective of doing so is to identify the applications that can be discontinued, those that have can be upgraded immediately to a Windows 10 version and those that need to have work done to them to make them Windows 10 compatible.

This process of taking inventory is best done by using a tool that continuously observes and reports applications installed and used across your workplace.

Microsoft provides Windows Analytics / Upgrade Readiness for this purpose, and it’s enabled on any Windows platform with a simple registry change. It reports to a cloud-hosted service the applications that are being used and suggests which applications are compatible with Windows 10.

One might also consider a tool like Lakeside Systrack reporting back into an internally-hosted Systrack management console to extract the data and reports needed.

With data flowing into your tool of choice, you can start application classification. On an application-by-application basis, consider:

  • What’s the application?
  • How many users use it, and is it critical business use?
  • Is it compatible with Windows 10?
  • Can it be upgraded to a version that’s compatible with Windows 10 ?
  • Can I rationalize the usage of the application? That is reduce the number of different versions down to just one (e.g. PDF writer), or remove it from use in my enterprise.

Stage 2: Application isolation
There will be some applications that are both critical to your organization and not Windows 10 compatible.

In these situations, you need to isolate the application from the underlying platform in order to speed the deployment of Windows 10 across your business. Use what you have to do so or decide on how you will approach this if you need to build this capability.

Two options with examples of tools to isolate applications from platforms:

  1. Sandbox: run the application on the device and wrap it inside a protected and isolated environment that provides all the supporting services it looks for (e.g., a version of Java, 8/16/32 bit execution). Examples of this are MS AppV, VMware Thin App, Numescent Cloudpaging.
  2. Virtualization: run the application on a server instance (or multiple server instances) so only user the interaction with the application occurs via a client installed on the device.Examples of this are Citrix’s XenApp, VMware’s Horizon 7

Stage 3: Web-based everything
Longer term what Windows 10, and the migration to a more heterogeneous platform environment (MacOS, Android etc.) means is that web-based applications is the long term strategic direction.

Outside of the digital workplace domain, there has been a sea change in the way enterprises look to host their business capability. Hybrid cloud, agile & dev ops, microservices and APIs, and containers have driven this change. A modern digital workplace needs to help leverage these changes in an enterprise’s basic IT consumption and development models so that the business can truly run anyplace anytime.


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