"You need actionable intelligence on the hardware," he says. "Is it ready to support Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? You also need to assess what you have for third-party software. You have to really identify what's out there and how you're going to move it. Also, what about your enterprise licensing agreements? Is that going to cost the organization? Are you going to have to move to a different version entirely?"
Distributed organizations will have a more challenging time, Brown says, noting that they also need to anticipate the logistics of a migration.
It's time for CIOs to make some decisions
CIOs should use this situation as an opportunity to make a few key decisions about issues affecting the enterprise:
- SaaS applications. Do you still need to run your productivity apps on-premises, or is SaaS a useful option? Office 365 from Microsoft, Google apps, and a host of other offerings can potentially fulfill your basic app needs without requiring the care and feeding of on-prem hardware and software.
- Bring your own device (BYOD). "This is a great opportunity to go down the road of at least evaluating bring your own device or choose your own device," Brisbois says. This can be an especially appealing option if your organization relies on software-as-a-service productivity applications, he notes. Depending on the structure of your organization, Android and iOS tablets, Mac computers, even Chromebooks may be options.
"You bring your device, regardless of platform, regardless of OS and we'll support you," says Brown, speaking of Fiberlink's MaaS360 service. "We're making sure that we support everything that's currently available with a similar united workflow for administrators. You're going to get all the same information as an administrator, regardless of platform."
- Legacy Windows XP. It's likely that some machines in your organization will not be upgraded from Windows XP for whatever reason. Brisbois says you should seek to identify those machines now and come up with a plan for maintaining them.
Thor Olavsrud covers IT security, big data, open source, Microsoft tools, and servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.