Microsoft had a great July, announcing Q4 Azure revenues were up a stunning 89% - part of its Intelligent Cloud division, whose total revenues were up 23%. The division, which includes server products, is enticing customers with new promotions to move workloads to Azure and keep the numbers trending up.
One cloud migration that makes sense, regardless of motive, is moving the Windows desktop workload to the cloud. Besides reducing the costs associated with supporting user productivity, it mitigates the extreme costs of Microsoft updates that become more frequent. However, moving the Windows desktop workload to the cloud will have an impact on infrastructure.
Most significantly, cloud-delivered Windows desktop will change network operations. Network traffic patterns will change, and latency concerns will become more evident. Thousands of virtual desktops will put new demands on data centers that will need to expand. And the makeup of the IT staff will change as fewer and more focused staff is required. It is paramount to address this impact and plan for the significant shift in infrastructure before making the Windows desktop to the cloud move.
Why move Windows to the cloud
Here are a few reasons why moving Windows 10 to the cloud makes sense:
- Get the Upper Hand. Choice is a wonderful thing. Microsoft held Azure over the heads of IT by offering extended support of Windows Server 2008. In other words, move Windows 2008 to Azure or operate an unsupported environment. Avoid such strong-arm tactics and choose now to take Windows 10 to the cloud of your choice.
- Take Back Control. Each Windows 10 update is like a new installation of Windows, resulting in lengthy update processes that can take hours to run and will at times fail, slowing down workflow productivity. The solution is to have Windows 10 reside in the cloud where updates are nearly instantaneous.
- Virtualize for Productivity. An estimated 80% of an organization’s users should be able to access a Windows 10 desktop from a shared, centrally-maintained template that resides in the data center instead of on individual physical workstations. Consider that if you are an organization with 5,000 users, having your workers boot from a small group of shared templates results in significant time savings and greatly increased productivity.
- Improve Endpoint Security. By moving Windows 10 to the cloud, and using virtual machines, IT can manage and deploy patches and updates more quickly. Whether using Azure, AWS, Google or IBM Cloud, your efficiency will increase, and critical patches are applied in a timeframe that reduces risk. Your employees should be able to boot up their virtual workspace, on any device, and know the latest patches are installed.
Rule Windows, not vice versa
Organizations are suffering through endless Windows 10 version updates, critical security patches, and ballooning IT costs. The only way to respond to the Windows 10 conundrum is to move the desktop workload to the cloud. In preparation for doing so, here are a few considerations:
- Windows 7 Impact. As the beloved Windows 7 phases out, there are thousands of Windows-based applications that will need to migrate to Windows 10. It is imperative to take asset inventory to determine where the roadblocks are going to occur. The process takes time, and large enterprises with tens of thousands of employees will have a thousand or more applications that need to be tested for Windows 10 compatibility.
- Hardware Assessments. According to Gartner, 30% of currently installed hardware is not capable of running Windows 10. Leveraging your legacy hardware investment will save you significant time and money when moving to a cloud-based Windows 10 model. Look at endpoint management software that extends the life of existing workstations by converting them to lightweight terminal devices running a secure OS.
- End User Computing. Besides Windows 10, the billions of mobile and IoT devices heading our way pose their own computing challenges. At the endpoint, new management models worth examining include Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) to deliver the EUC experience via the cloud. Consider Amazon Workspaces that enables organizations to provision virtual, cloud-delivered Microsoft Windows desktops for their users, giving them updated and secure application access from any supported device.
Rather than wait for Microsoft to roll out clever tactics to encourage Windows deployment on Azure, create your own Windows 10 cloud strategy. Do this by evaluating which cloud options are the best fit for your organization. Develop a strategic approach to managing this virtualization shift’s impact on your infrastructure, to accommodate changing traffic patterns, and to address the new skill sets required for cloud-based virtual desktops.
Choose your cloud scenario and then work with enabling technology firms to help you assess legacy hardware in terms of repurposing to an OS that supports multiple devices. Consider new models like DaaS and SaaS for delivering end-user computing, and integrate application virtualization to stay competitive in the face of continuous Windows updates.