Take the pain out of lengthy migrations with IBM Tivoli's proven best practices and tools
For IT managers, endpoint operating system (OS) migrations are—let's be frank—a major headache in immediate need of an effective painkiller.
In large part, this is because OS migrations are lengthy, complicated projects involving many factors to consider, prioritize, and orchestrate, such as:
One excellent example of an OS migration tsunami confronting many IT managers today is Windows 7 (link resides outside of ibm.com) . While Win 7 has been available for some time, it has yet to receive comprehensive deployment in the enterprise, and every day that passes is another day in which its business benefits can't be realized.
What's more, Microsoft will be abandoning all support for Windows XP as of April 2014 (less than three years away). This implies that for large networks of tens of thousands of endpoints, many or most of which are still running Windows XP, the time to start thinking about mass migration to Windows 7 is now.
Fortunately for those confronting this common situation, IBM Tivoli can help with proven best practices and the tools needed to carry those best practices out. Specifically, the new IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager (TEM) solutions include a best-in-class feature set that maps extremely well to the challenges involved in a Windows 7 mass migration.
TEM can help you at every stage in the process, from initial assessment to ongoing, post-rollout maintenance. It also applies to both local and remote endpoint pools, and across all network links of all bandwidths, for truly comprehensive administration.
Discover: Determine your endpoint needs in fine detail
The first logical step in a Win 7 migration is discovery. Before you can update your endpoints, you'll need to establish their resources and requirements on a case-by-case basis.
It may be, for instance, that some endpoints already have Win 7; others may require more memory before they're upgrade-eligible; still others may simply lack the computational power required. And, of course, this kind of detailed insight is also needed to prioritize the application upgrades likely to follow on the heels of the OS itself.
TEM solutions can deliver that insight. They utilize a single agent that, once deployed on endpoints, reports back to a centralized server to keep you completely apprised of all endpoint resources and capabilities. You can easily determine the specific needs of any given endpoint or any logical cluster of them, and thus establish well in advance how many endpoints and applications are Win 7-ready, how many are not, and what you'll need to do to bring them up to speed.
If, for instance, some endpoints have incompatible applications, you can find out whether you'll need to upgrade those as well—or, instead, run them in Win 7's XP Virtual Mode as an interim solution. You can also determine when applications are no longer needed, and simplify (prune) the application base as part of your migration process.
Prepare: Create a strategy for the OS migration
This concept of application pruning, of course, is only one example of the software licensing issues that should be considered in the next migration phase: preparation.
In addition to saving IT costs by reducing or eliminating licenses it turns out you don't need, you can improve endpoint performance (and user productivity) by eliminating needless software dependencies that create more hassles than they solve.
In the preparation phase of the migration process, you'll also want to:
Tivoli Endpoint Manager can make those goals a reality. Because TEM tells you exactly what's on each endpoint, you also know exactly what kind of user data, settings, and other unique traits will need to be preserved during the migration…and the software each endpoint has that can be eliminated, updated, or that requires special action in any other sense. Creating a migration strategy is then a relative snap.
Migrate: Out with the old OS, and in with the new
In this phase, the migration actually happens—and via TEM, it happens in a controlled, governed way that achieves your goals while minimizing your complexities and challenges.
That's because TEM agents can do much more than just collect information on endpoints. They can also execute complex actions on each endpoint as specified by policies on the TEM server. What's more, these actions can be performed over all types of network links from a lowly dialup to a full-blown T3 line—even public Internet connections like WiFi in a coffee shop. If links are low-bandwidth, TEM can install images via a slow trickle of data—slow enough that the user doesn't even notice it, yet fast enough that deadlines are met.
Thus, every endpoint in your organization, wherever it happens to be and however it's connected to your infrastructure, can be upgraded to Win 7. Administrators can pursue the migration strategy with relative ease, speed, and simplicity—driving down costs and risks of many kinds.
How does this actually happen? In a typical case, TEM administrators will create a base OS image that (besides the OS proper) will also include a collaboration platform (such as Outlook) and a productivity suite (such as Office). During a migration, once this base has been installed on the target endpoint, the endpoint can subsequently be customized with whatever additional software is needed, and user data/settings are restored. Once the migration is complete, TEM automatically performs “top off” updates, bringing the endpoint into compliance with the most recent security patches and configuration standards. TEM can also install applications after migration as needed.
What had been a complex, lengthy, and costly process has thus become significantly more straightforward, accelerated, and operationally inexpensive.
Secure/maintain: Optimally manage endpoints over time
Naturally, the process of getting the highest business value from endpoints is ongoing—it doesn't conclude with the OS migration per se.
For instance, endpoint managers will need to install new software patches on an ongoing basis to address software problems ranging from suboptimal performance to minor bugs to outright application failure. Security, in particular, is an area requiring a vigilant and proactive approach. The organization's internal security policies, and external government regulations, will both require compliance. If that compliance isn't achieved, the consequences can be far from theoretical, ranging from costly penalties if a government audit is failed to service downtime, lost revenues, and brand damage.
Via Tivoli Endpoint Manager for Security and Compliance, ongoing maintenance can be carried out optimally, based on real-time assessment of endpoint status. Should endpoint status change in such a way as to require patches or security reconfigurations, or should new patches be released, TEM can remediate as many endpoints as necessary. This efficient, policy-driven process keeps endpoints perpetually up to date and reduces to a bare minimum the manual maintenance IT must perform.
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