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Windows 10 Enterprise Migration on the Rise

According to a recent IT-focused survey, Windows 10 migrations are picking up in organizations.

Nearly all of the participants in the survey, conducted by Adaptiva, planned to move to Windows 10, although the migrations mostly haven't been completed yet. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents indicated that they have migrated just "10 percent or less" of devices to Windows 10. The survey, conducted in May, fielded the opinions of 446 respondents as part of Adaptiva's "2017 Windows 10 Enterprise Impact Study."

The Windows 10 deployment plans of IT pros appear to be spilling into next year. According to the survey, 41 percent of participants said they'd get 51 percent of more devices migrated to Windows 10 within the next year.

IT pros were heavily represented in the survey. Almost half (46.86 percent) of the respondents were IT system administrators or other technical IT support personnel. The survey also included IT managers, CIOs and other IT personnel. Adaptiva used its customer base for the survey, so it tended to reflect the practices of larger enterprises. About 60 percent of those surveyed managed more than 1,000 systems and workstations.

Planning Taking Longer
Based on a comparison with last year's Windows 10 survey, Adaptiva found that migration planning seems to be taking longer for IT pros. However, the actual Windows 10 migrations appear to be happening faster, perhaps because of the use of tools that reduce the need for manual interventions.

"The one thing that I thought is worth noting is that we are seeing things move much faster," said Jim Souders, Adaptiva's CEO, in a phone call on Monday. "Twenty-eight percent of our customers say they are more than halfway through their migration, and last year when we surveyed, only 7.2 percent of them expected to be only halfway. So we are definitely seeing a pretty concerted acceleration of the progress that people are making in Windows 10 migrations."

Adaptiva makes management solutions for enterprises, including additions to Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager product, such its OneSite add-on. It also recently produced a free tool to help convert BIOS disks to UEFI. Adaptiva's enterprise customers vary in size, having as few as 5,000 client devices to manage, up to as large as 400,000 client devices, according to Souders.

Zero-Touch Goal
Moving to Windows 10 still requires manual interventions in most cases, according to the survey participants. However, IT pros still were able to achieve some so-called "zero-touch" migrations, according to Souders.  

"Obviously zero touch is a goal that all of the enterprises want to strive for but it's a little difficult, maybe unachievable," Souders said. "What we did find is that about a third reported that half of their systems were true zero-touch deployments. So when you're asking the question, 'Are you able to do zero-touch across the enterprise,' you're going to get a pretty low affirmation number, but when you drill down and say, 'OK, are you able to get zero touch across broad swathes of your enterprise,' we're seeing much higher numbers."

Almost half (49 percent) of respondents thought it would take one to five IT personnel to complete the "migration of all systems to Windows 10." However, a quarter (25 percent) of the participants thought it would take six to 20 personnel to make the move. The majority (57 percent) thought it would take between two hours and four hours just to migrate a single PC to Windows 10.

Overall, it could take "over one year" for the full migration to be completed, according to 37 percent of respondents. There were 22 percent who thought the complete migration would take seven to 12 months.

Microsoft has touted "in-place" upgrades for Windows 10 as a faster process. However, Adaptiva mostly sees its enterprise customers staying with the traditional "wipe-and-load" approach on devices, along with some in-place upgrades, according to Souders.

Microsoft has offered some new network-sharing techniques when carrying out Windows 10 updates and preboot execution environment (PXE) upgrades. It's a validation of what Adaptiva has been doing all along with its OneSite solution, according to Souders.

"The observation that we see is that the market has voted and what Microsoft is doing is affirmation of the need for peer-to-peer technology and bandwidth optimization to do content delivery, and particularly OSD," Souders said. "That's what we've done from the very beginning," he added. "And we've built a tremendous amount of intelligence in how we do the peer to peer, how we manage the cache, how we deal with storing content while you're doing upgrades, and how you're protecting the network."

Without the intelligence, clients intended to work off a peer device undergo the "call home scenario." They either go to a distribution point, "which completely obviates the point of having peer to peer," or they go back to a central server, "which just really kills your network," Souders explained.

Adaptiva's large enterprise customers have likely tested Microsoft's bandwidth technologies for Windows 10 updates, but they probably aren't meeting their needs, Souders contended.

"From our standpoint, we haven't seen enterprise customers that scale be able to take advantage of Microsoft's attempts in these areas," Souders said. "I'm not saying with SMBs that that wouldn't work, but that's not typically who we work with."

Faster Updates Are OK
Perhaps one of the more surprising findings in Adaptiva's survey was that IT pros did not seem worried about managing Windows 10 updates, with their faster release pace, once the OS was installed. When asked if maintaining Windows 10 would take more effort than maintaining Windows 7 and Windows 8, the majority of respondents (70 percent) said "No."

Souders didn't have an explanation for that result since his customers have expressed concerns about Windows 10's faster releases. Windows 10 is "the gift that keeps on giving," he said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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