The Challenges of Deploying Windows 7
It has been more than a year since Windows 7 was released, and some organizations are still trying to figure out the best way to upgrade from Windows XP Professional
Although XP proved to be a stable platform, it is aging rapidly, and the sunset date on support will be here before you know it. In addition, more and more applications are being designed specifically for Windows 7.
However, IT directors who are ready to deploy Windows 7 have to address several questions before jumping in:
- Can you afford to stay in a 32-bit world, even as the move to 64-bit operating systems picks up speed?
- Will your existing hardware support the upgrade?
- Will all your applications work on the new system?
- How will you test your applications and analyze foreseeable gaps?
Each of these factors deserves careful consideration. The needs and resources of your organization will have an enormous impact on the answers.
Even if everything works out well to this point, however, the last issue to be resolved is one of the thorniest. Namely, how do you actually deploy Windows 7 across your organization in a quick and efficient manner?
For smaller businesses, a manual deployment may make sense, possibly including the use of a disk imaging solution, as long as the number of desktops is not overwhelming. Other organizations, however, will opt for a more automated process. A network-management tool may be the answer. Software distribution and OS upgrades that run at off-peak hours will ensure that users have everything they need quickly.
Both manual deployment and network-management tools, however, are traditional approaches. A more far-reaching and strategic solution that is revolutionizing desktop environments, may be to create virtual desktops on servers.
VMware’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution is the clear leader in this field, but both Citrix and Microsoft offer competitive options. Regardless of which platform you choose, the goal is to centralize desktop processing as part of deploying Windows 7.
There are numerous advantages to virtual desktops. For starters, it can greatly diminish time associated with desktop support, lengthen the life of desktop hardware, operate thinner across network lines and provide for enhanced security.In addition, running a virtual desktop environment also allows for the capability for remote access, while resolving many of the issues that plague other solutions. There would be no difference in what they see on their computers, whether they are in the office, at home or some other location.
However, keep in mind that licensing can be an issue with virtual desktops. Some IT directors go with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) license for Windows 7. OEM licenses, of course, are specific to each desktop. For this reason, most organizations find it easier and less of a legal headache to obtain volume licensing.
Regardless of the approach that you use — manual deployment, network-management tools or virtual desktops — you are more likely to achieve a stable configuration by reaching out for qualified assistance. This is especially crucial during the planning stage.
In any case, IT directors would be wise to ask themselves, “Since I’m tackling this big change and updating our system to Windows 7 anyway, is now a good time to rethink the way I look at our desktops?”