Few enterprises have completed Windows XP migration: study

Enterprise businesses are not ready for continual software migrations - including the looming Windows XP retirement - and this is placing firms at risk, according to new research.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Enterprise chief information officers are not ready to handle the "new normal" of continual software migrations, according to new research.

A joint study (.pdf) conducted by research firm IDC and Flexera Software surveyed over 750 respondents from software ISVs, intelligent device manufacturers and end-user enterprises. The research found that chief information officers (CIOs) are not equipped to handle continual software migrations. Even while huge migration projects -- such as the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 -- are underway by many firms, virtualization is also gaining traction at the same time, which puts ill-equipped departments at risk due to increased costs, reduced funding, errors and persistent delays.

According to the Application Usage Management report, enterprises are still racing to implement Windows 7 ahead of the April 8, 2014 Microsoft Windows XP end of support date. Microsoft recently warned that businesses and consumers alike are at risk of a "zero day forever" scenario if they do not upgrade, and as a result, security experts believe that once the system is no longer patched, hackers who have zero-day exploits for XP stored up will either let them cause chaos on vulnerable systems or sell them -- which could be disasterous for vulnerable business systems.

See also: Hackers cash in on Windows XP retirement, exploit kit prices to surge?

Over a quarter -- 28 percent -- of survey respondents said they are yet to migrate over half of their applications over to Windows 7 before the XP expiry date, and only 3.7 percent say they plan to take another leap forward and go straight for Windows 8.

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Credit: IDC/Flexera

At the same time, organizations are also beginning to take on projects to migrate their desktops and applications to virtual environments. The research says that 20 percent of enterprises plan to virtualize between a quarter and all of their desktops over the next two years, and an additional 23 percent said they will be virtualizing between 11 - 25 percent of their desktops in the same time period.

In addition, 28 percent of respondents said they will be virtualizing between 26 - 100 percent of their applications in the next two years, and 23 percent plan to do the same for 11 - 25 percent of their applications over the next 12 - 24 months.

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Credit: IDC/Flexera

IDC and Flexera suggest that enterprises take the following steps to make application deployments less of a headache for the average CIO:

  1. Identify applications being used
  2. Rationalize applications to eliminate unused software prior to migration
  3. Assess compatibility with the target environment
  4. Plan migration
  5. Fix compatibility issues & package
  6. Hand off the app to a deployment system or enterprise app store for deployment

However, the report says that while enterprises have made progress implementing application readiness automatically rather than manually, many have not yet done so or plan to keep everything manual. Roughly 60 percent of those surveyed said that they currently complete or plan to implement automation processes for at least one of the steps above.

The highest level of automation achieved already within enterprises -- 46 percent -- is for the "identify applications being used" step. The lowest level of automation achieved -- 31 percent -- is for the "fix & package" step. In addition, almost 20 percent of respondents said they had no intention of implementing automation in the "assess compatibility," "fix & package" or "deploy" stages of application migration.

Robert Young, Research Manager, Enterprise System Management Software at IDC said:

"The expansion in heterogeneous IT environments and increased complexity of software licensing models is challenging IT organizations with efficiently and effectively managing applications throughout their lifecycle. Furthermore, many IT organizations inundated with managing complex systems and services are operating within tight budget constraints. As a result, relying on manual processes to ensure proper software utilization often adds unnecessary workloads and increased costs for already overwhelmed IT organizations."

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