In part one of this series, we examined the increasing 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 part two of the series, we explored the system requirements and configurations that should be considered as you to prepare your environment for operating system migrations.
In this final installment of the series, we will delve into the best practice considerations that should be applied to assist with the smooth and successful completion of operating system migrations.
As any IT professional or service desk technician knows, with changes to an organizations IT infrastructure, be it a new phone system, a new network or in this particular case new operating systems, comes the inevitable end user issues. To be fair this needs to be expected as these users have for the last few years been using systems they are familiar with navigating on a day to day basis. Then, the introduction of the new operating system that they are expected to use, with its increased functionality and alternative interfaces that many of these users have never worked with before now.
However, before the flood gates open of helpdesk tickets from end users requiring assistance with the new operating system, a proactive stance can easily lessen the burden on your IT department by providing training on the new systems before the upgrade. Often the simplest approach leading up to the new software roll out is to schedule a series of dedicated training sessions that are conducted by the IT team, where end users can learn about the new operating system and become familiar navigating the new interface of the product. Coordinating such training sessions in conjunction with your HR department will also assist in staff participation and reinforce the importance of the training.
As well as dedicated training sessions, other considerations to assist end users transition to the new operating systems should include sending notifications of what’s changing and when it will be changing. Likewise, providing related online learning resources prior to and after the new product is rolled out will greatly assist in a smoother transition and reduce the end user issues that your service desk team will receive.
Testing the operating system upgrades on small groups of end users machines is a great way to anticipate and become familiar with any potential installation problems that might occur during the upgrades. Likewise deploying the new operating system in stages, for example by departments or by teams rather than a onetime organizational rollout will provide much more control during the migration project and with any installation problems that might be encountered.
Another important factor that needs be considered when conducting migrations to new operating systems is timing and scheduling. When the new systems are installed, there is going to be a period of downtime whilst the process completes where the machine is non-operational. Likewise, when software is being deployed, it will cause a certain amount of increased traffic across an organization's network, which can have an impact on other platforms using the same infrastructure. Whilst both these issues will vary depending on factors such as the type of deployment products you’re using and the bandwidth of the network, the proper planned timing of the upgrades is essential to help reduce the impact of these issues. One of the simplest ways to assist in overcoming these issues is to conduct the upgrades outside of the normal business hours when both the end users and the organization's network are less active. With some deployment products, the operating system upgrades can even be scheduled to take place automatically at a particular desired time. Automatically being able to schedule the system upgrades in this manner also reduces the number of IT staff that will need to remain working outside of the normal business hours. However, after the new operating systems have been deployed, it’s important to make sure that the IT team is available and ready to take care of any end user problems that may have occurred during the process.
An area that can often be overlooked, but needs to be addressed during the migration process is examining any of the network security features that might prevent successful installations. Security features that can prevent successful installations are typically items such as firewalls and antivirus programs. These items need to be configured to allow the installation of the new operating systems. An example of this would be to check if the IT administrator’s credentials will allow for remote script execution.
Sizeable operating system migration projects are always going to run into a few problems during the process. However, being prepared and with the correct planning these problems and the time it takes to resolve the problems can be greatly reduced and in turn, lead to a much smoother and efficient migration project.
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.