In part one of this blog series, we looked at the security risks faced by organizations running outdated operating systems. While many businesses still rely on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 environments, the implications of unsupported architecture can have a major impact on business operations.
In this part of the series, we will explore the system requirements and configurations that should be considered as you to prepare your environment for operating system migrations.
More often than not, when IT departments are conducting large operating system migrations or the roll out of new a new OS, the hardware requirements of the new software can be easily overlooked. This common oversight can lead to failure with installations of the new operating systems and result in disruption to business continuity. Poorly planned migrations often leave IT support technicians scrambling to resolve the system failures while end users are left without functioning machines. These impacts to productivity trigger a domino effect as IT gets inundated with incoming support issues from frustrated end users and critical departments such as accounting, finance or production facilities.
Not exactly the most efficient way of accomplishing the new operating system roll out or making friends! Additionally, who's going to take the flak when management starts asking some rather difficult questions?
So how do we prevent this situation - or more realistically - reduce the number of failures when conducting OS upgrades on a large scale? While some obstacles should be expected when migrating complex environments, appropriate planning can significantly reduce downtime and unnecessary stress on resources.
- Inventory all hardware in the upgrade environment. Include the details for machine CPU speeds, RAM and hard drive space, both used and what’s available.
- Determine machines that meet the requirements for the new operating system. For example, Windows XP requires a minimum of a Pentium 233 megahertz CPU, 64 megabytes of RAM and 1.5 gigabytes of available space on the hard drive. By comparison, if you were rolling out Windows 7 the minimum requirements for a machine are a CPU of 1 gigahertz, 1 gigabyte of RAM (32-bit) or 2 gigabytes of RAM (64-bit) and 16 gigabytes of available hard drive space (32-bit) or 20 gigabytes (64-bit).
- Identify those machines that don’t meet the requirements and do a cost analysis of component upgrades or machine replacement. The majority of businesses will find it most cost effective to simply update newer machines, while they may need to retire older hardware.
- Back up and store any critical data, files or configurations. In some instances, you may choose to replace the entire software image of the machine.
One of the soft benefits of system upgrades is that it gives IT a great opportunity to do some housekeeping. Over time, businesses tend to accumulate a lot of unnecessary files and data in their local environment. Now is the time to standardize images within a library for each business function. Having a consistent image of the operating system, required applications, data, files and configurations by job function eases the pain of disaster recovery and onboarding.
This “replace all the software” with a standard image approach obviously won’t be the right fit for all machines. Particular consideration has to be applied before deploying new images to any employees with specialized job functions that require unique software, data sets or privileges in order to operate correctly.
You can apply the same considerations mentioned above when upgrading server operating systems. However, it’s important to note, server environments hosting company data or running business critical applications should be thoroughly checked for compatibility with the new OS architecture. Legacy systems can post an especially tricky situation when looking at code written in the likes of COBOL or other early generation programming languages. In this case, you may have to consider changes to legacy applications, which will add additional cost and time to the migration efforts.
The results of carrying out these simple audits will decrease the chances of failure in your system migrations. The effort should yield better cost control, more productive (and happier) end users, and most importantly, fewer difficult questions from management.
In the final blog in this series, we will examine the best practice considerations that should be applied to assist with the smooth and successful completion of operating system migrations.
BOSS Solutions is a U.S. Company providing innovative software solutions to meet the need of customers in service management. The company’s major product lines are BOSSDesk that provides IT Service Management on the Cloud, BOSS Support Central – that provides IT Service Management On-Premise, and BOSS811 a one call ticket management solution for the damage prevention industry.