“D-Virtualization makes it easy to migrate to newer Windows”

Although Windows 8 is around with a lot of hype and that too, for a reason, a sizeable chunk of businesses have still not migrated to newer Windows (i.e. Windows 7) and are using Windows XP. While Microsoft will completely phase out support for XP on April 8, 2014 , it is critical for users worldwide to migrate to a newer version of Windows, either 7 or 8. While migration can be a costly and time-consuming affair with traditional roll-out, Dataquest’s Onkar Sharma had a detailed chat with Atul Ahuja, director – Microsoft Alliance & Strategic Sales, India Subcontinent, Citrix on easy options for businesses who want to migrate to a newer version of Windows. During the discourse, desktop virtualization was discussed as an important option. Excerpts…

Q. A number of companies do still use Windows XP and might be planning to move to a newer Windows platform like Windows 7 or Windows 8? What are the challenges companies face during Windows 7 migration and how Desktop Virtualization can nullify them?
There are a number of challenges that companies face during Windows migration.
Application compatibility with the 32-bit or 64-bit operations: Applications built on a 16-bit architecture will not work on the new operating system. This can be detrimental to an OS migration, as many legacy applications, which are business critical, will no longer run.
IE6 and custom applications: Applications that were built and designed for IE6 or for older operating system versions still need to function with Windows 7. Not all companies can afford the time and/or investment to re-platform these applications.
The need to upgrade endpoint devices because of Windows 7’s increased hardware demands: ‘Inventorying’ hardware requires looking at all device capabilities, matching them to the requirements of Windows 7, identifying those that need replacement, purchasing new hardware, and installing the corporate-approved operating environment and applications needed for productivity. This can be a very costly exercise, especially for those that have upgraded PCs in the past few years.
The significant labour costs of upgrading: Windows 7 rollouts are often completed in phases throughout large organizations, consuming months of IT staff time and creating rolling downtime for users.

The Windows 7 upgrade process can be greatly simplified using desktop virtualization.
 
With on-demand applications, IT can virtualize Internet Explorer (IE) 6 and deliver it from the data center onto the new OS-the end-user experiences no difference. In addition, applications that have not been updated for Windows 7 can be delivered in the same way, virtually, with a great experience, to any device and as per the custom requirements for mobility, security and performance needs for different users.
 
Organizations can also continue to use the existing endpoint devices (if need be that is) they used to run Windows XP in their environment.
 
Desktop virtualization will accelerate Windows 7 deployments by simplifying the migration. After Windows 7 has been deployed, all the user simply has to do is log out and re-log in, and when they log back in on XenDesktop, they are up and running on Windows 7 along with the Applications.
Desktop and application virtualization can take an event that would normally create downtime and turn it into a brief interruption. Companies that adopt XenDesktop (a Citrix product) as part of their Windows 7 migration strategy can benefit from the ability to turn any user device into a productivity device, to turn any application into a service delivered to any OS or device, and to turn a large migration effort into a significantly streamlined process.
 
 
Q. How can it benefit customers and of what size? How hassle-free is the migration going to be?
Using Desktop Virtualization to migrate from Windows XP would be beneficial for all kinds of customers, irrespective of Size, and the Industry segment. Challenges around Data Security, Mobility & Work Shifting and agility of desktops to support changes and demands of business is a consistent and common need.

In migration apart from the Operating System hardening and standardizing, a critical component of the hassle free migration is delivering applications on the new platform to the user.

Q. Customers are always concerned about the additional costs of hardware upgradation. Do they need to make investments on hardware as well if they choose to adopt desktop virtualization?

Customers do plan the migrations from physical to virtual desktop and as an integral part of the migration process, Citrix assists the IT organization in the customers environments in understanding the infrastructure required to move to desktop virtualization.

In fact, desktop virtualization has the ability to significantly reduce operating expenses by centralizing desktop maintenance and reducing desk-side support needs. Acute downward pressure on capital and operational expenditure is now driving adoption of desktop virtualization.

Desktop virtualization is giving organisations the ability to extend the life of their devices and delay the refresh cycle. At the same time delivering virtual desktops to thin clients or tablet devices gives the organisation the ability to save on power and cooling. Coupled to this is the flexibility to deliver the entire corporate desktop to a remote location with complete control saves on desktop management costs as well.

 

Q. Are there any security threats associated with virtualization?

There are two dimensions to the security aspect. Regarding where the data resides, it is the customer who decides where they want it to be. We just enable wherever they want the data to be. Security cannot be an add-on, we believe it is more of in-built by design kind of security. We enable data to be secure whether it is centralised or remote, through encryption, access control, and application access of the highest levels.

 

Q. Since BYOD is hot topic these days in the enterprise circles, will it support this kind of environment?

BYOD allows the users to choose their device and IT can deliver the right environment that is Windows 8 or Windows 7 to the end user on the device that the user chooses. Moreover XenDesktop will also ensure that user get a rich user experience on the Applications as well and at the same, the security and policies of the enterprise IT are still adhered to.

Q. Since Windows 8 is also around the corner, will you be offering virtualization for this also?
Citrix is ready for Windows 8 today, with the Citrix Receiver product available for Windows 8 platform. With our strong global partnership with Microsoft, we are ready for our enterprise customers to help them move to Windows 8 using XenDesktop and Citrix Receiver.

For Windows 8 deployments, we deliver multi-touch, high definition graphics to ensure that a fully optimized Windows 8 experience is available to users of VDI-in-a-Box, XenDesktop, XenApp, and XenClient.

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