Windows 7: Your next recruitment headache

Windows 7 migation could put a big hole in your IT budgets - as techies look forward to a big payday
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director on

Windows 7 migation could put a big hole in your IT budgets - as techies look forward to a big payday

Windows 7 migration projects will eat up to a quarter of IT budgets as pay rates for expert staff rocket, analysts have warned.

CIOs will either have to beg for extra funds or redirect budgets away from other projects to complete their Windows 7 migration plans on time.

Corporate Windows 7 migrations are already on the up - silicon.com's exclusive CIO Jury recently revealed that IT chiefs are now planning to to upgrade to Windows 7 by the end of 2011.

IT departments are also facing a looming Windows 7 migration deadline, with Microsoft only supporting Windows XP for four more years.

IT departments usually prefer to migrate to new PC operating systems as they replace hardware through the normal refresh cycle. However, because many organisations won't start their migration programmes until the end of 2010 - with PC hardware replacement cycles running over four to five years - they won't be able to migrate to Windows 7 through the usual hardware refreshes before support for Windows XP ends.

Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at analyst Gartner, said that whether they involve replacing or upgrading PCs, Windows 7 migrations will have a noticeable impact on organisations' IT budgets.

Kleynhans said that, based on an accelerated upgrade programme, the proportion of the IT budget spent on PCs will need to increase between 20 per cent as a best case scenario and 60 per cent at worst in 2011 and 2012.

"Assuming that PCs account for 15 per cent of a typical IT budget, this means that this percentage will increase to 18 per cent (best case) and 24 per cent (worst case) which could have a profound effect on IT spending and on funding for associated projects during both those years," he added in a statement.

Gartner expects the cost of IT labour to increase during 2011 and 2012 as demand for Windows 7 migration services spikes. These cost hikes are likely to continue in 2013, as organisations realise that they are behind in their migrations.

Large and mid-size organisations worldwide will migrate approximately 250 million PCs to Windows 7, the analyst group said, so CIOs should be talking to suppliers now about putting in place contracts that can deliver the support at a fixed rate over the migration period.

Windows 7

Windows 7 migration could put a hole in your IT budget
(Photo credit: Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Faced with this need to accelerate migration in 2011 and 2012, Gartner said organisations have three options:

Accelerate PC replacement plans
Assuming a 10,000-PC environment, where all PCs are replaced, Gartner estimates that the migration cost per PC will be between $1,205 and $1,999, depending on how well-managed the environment is.

But the analysts said that while the overall cost to migrate is lower than other scenarios, capital costs account for about 60 per cent of the total replacement cost, so the capital budget will be larger than in the upgrade case.

Upgrade installed PCs
Using existing PCs will reduce the capital costs of migration, but will not reduce the labour costs of migration. Assuming the same setup - a 10,000 PC environment, where all PCs are upgraded — the migration cost per PC will be between $1,274 and $2,069, depending on how well-managed the PC environment is. This assumes that 25 per cent of the machines will need a hardware upgrade to run the OS.

Gartner said that while the capital costs are reduced in this case, upgrading an installed PC simply postpones the inevitable replacement for two to three years, and so users will need to be migrated twice, rather than once, during a four-year period.

Evaluate partial migration
Gartner said for workers in roles such as data entry (which account for about 15 per cent of the population in a typical organisation), migrating from a PC to a hosted virtual desktop environment is an alternative to PC migration. While this might speed up deployment (because it is one image deployed centrally) it doesn't fix the budget issues, because of the cost of the datacentre and network infrastructure needed to run an hosted environment, nor does it solve the problem of hiring enough IT support staff, since they will be involved in the rollout.

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