If you're an organization with multiple PCs in your network, there's more than a one in three chance you're still using Windows 7 as an operating system. You'd probably be happy keeping it that way, but as you likely already know, Windows 7 is quickly hurtling towards its end of life. Indeed, by mid-January 2020, the popular platform will be kaput as far as Microsoft's security patches and updates are concerned (unless you want to pay Microsoft extra). Having said that, there are many reasons companies might not want to change platforms. Because the user interface (UI) is quite different, some users simply don't like Windows 10. Some older applications also run into technical problems on Windows 10. It's somewhat telling that despite Windows 10 having been introduced almost five years ago, it only passed Windows 7 in market share in late 2018.
So if you are a Windows 7 user, what's your plan to deal with that? Generally, you've got a few options.
Option 1: An old-school Windows 10 migration
You could migrate all your company's individual PCs to a Windows 10 operating system (just like you may have also done back in 2014, when many companies were forced to move from Windows XP). But along with the time and hardware costs of such a migration, there's also significant logistical pain to deal with:
- Taking inventory of all your PCs and replacing those not up to Windows 10 requirements
- Running a Windows Device and App Readiness scan on existing PCs to detect potential hidden compatibility issues
- Converting drives from legacy BIOS to UEFI and moving to Azure Active Directory (as per Microsoft recommendations)
- Taking stock of other physical resources like disk space and network bandwidth (Windows 10 requires more of both to run well)
- Migrating all your users' files and settings
- Training all your users on a new operating system (along with dealing with inevitable employee resistance)
- Capital outlay based on new hardware requirements for Windows 10 vs. Windows 7 from the networking and security aspects.
The list goes on. And aside from the technical, logistical, and cost-prohibitive elements of an old-school migration, it's very likely you'll have to do it all over again in another six or seven years. Do you really want to drag your company through wave after wave of disruptive migrations if you don't have to?
Option 2: Move the OS off the End-point
Whichever platform you're using, virtual desktops or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) have a ton of broad advantages over their physical counterparts. They're accessible from any device and anywhere with connectivity. Your company doesn't need a huge squad of IT techs on hand to deal with time-consuming issues. Virtual desktops are more secure and let you more easily scale storage. In many enterprise environments that may have aging desktop hardware and who are looking to transition to a VDI solution for end-users, there are often difficult fiscal decisions that come to light when thinking of replacing hardware across the board. However, if that hardware could be repurposed so that it doesn't have to be replaced and bridge the gap between physical hardware and virtual desktop infrastructure, that is a much better outcome. To get some of the support benefits of thin clients, you need to strip down the software inside the device on the User's desk. You can do this with thin client conversion tools that use a thin client operating system in place of Windows on an existing PC.
Virtual desktops can be even more beneficial when you're facing a Windows migration. Aside from dramatically reducing that big list of technical to-dos from Option 1 (along with the time and hardware costs we also mentioned), they're also flexible enough to let you more easily move to Windows 10. Using Tehama, desktops can be virtually preconfigured, packaged, and put into operation in minutes. Coupled with an IGEL USB or PC conversion tools, you can migrate your existing Windows PC into a hassle-free and easy to manage Thin Client-that boots up to the Tehama Web UI and the User has a view of a single desktop or multiple desktops.
For organizations not opposed to moving to Windows 10, deploying it via a virtual desktop allows for easier security, easier management, and better cost optimization. From the standpoint of security, the main advantage of using a thin client for desktop virtualization is that the end-user does not require direct access to the endpoint operating system. In this way, users are better protected from the situations in which viruses and hacking attacks take place.
Option 3: Running Windows 7 (securely) using virtual desktops during the transition
Tehama offer organizations the ability to run Windows 7 custom bundles, powered by Windows Server 2008 R2, using virtual desktops secured at the data center level. Because these systems treat the data center as the endpoint, security patches for individual machines are no longer required. You can run older apps without constantly worrying if they'll break. And by keeping the same UI, your staff don't have to spend time trying to figure out deep, perplexing questions like where the heck the Control Panel went.
Running Windows 7 custom bundle via a secure virtual desktop has several other advantages:
- Better regulatory compliance. A centralized, virtual desktop approach allows for easier management and compliance with SOC 2, OSFI FIPS, NERC, HIPAA, NYCRR 500, and other regulations.
- A zero-trust network and least privilege permissions. Multi-factor authentication and strict network access policies mean staffers, freelancers, or partners only have access to what they need to do their jobs.
- Easier and more effective workforce auditing. Keeping your finger on the pulse of a global workforce is a lot easier using a centralized system, instead of having to track hundreds if not thousands of individual endpoints.
- Migrate the User to the Windows 10 Desktop at your pace by managing your risk.
Tehama's partnership with IGEL delivers Amazon WorkSpaces that come with a Windows 7 or 10 experience via the Teradici PCoIP software client. Tehama's workspace delivery solutions combined with IGEL's software-defined endpoints, allow for ready-to-work, secure rooms identical to your favorite Windows 7 desktop layout – right down to the wallpaper. From beginning to end, the process takes approximately 5 minutes, and when complete, you get the vast majority of Virtual Desktops benefits and centralized administration that you would expect from a DAAS/VDI solution.
And by installing the Tehama Gateway once on your infrastructure to ensure a secure encrypted connection between your infrastructure and virtual desktops, you'll always have the option of upgrading to a newer system at your own pace.