August 28, 2018

The WaaS conundrum

Large organizations, as a normal part of its operations, deploy a very large number of devices such as   PC’s, laptops, Servers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices.   Each of these devices may have dozens of Apps installed – many of which are critical to the every-day operations of the organization – leading to typical application estates in the tens of thousands.

Microsoft WaaS (Windows as a Service – see link) – launched at the same time as Windows 10 proposes a radical new policy for Windows releases: Instead of launching an entirely New Windows desktop version every 3-5 years (There have been 6 since 2001: XP, VISTA, Win7, Win 8, Win8.1, Win10) – Microsoft will now release 2 features updates a year. The Diagram below illustrates this point.

 

This is a very good idea from Microsoft that will take out a lot of the pain involved in large upgrades that often have major upgrade and compatibility issues. However, it creates a significant challenge for medium and large organizations (MLE’s), who typically have very large application estates. Globally, adoption rates of such organization is ~40%, 2 years after the launch of Windows 10. Systems integrators and IT services companies have also been slow to adopt Windows 10 With the rest remaining at windows 7 (source: Link)

The main reason for this slow rate of adoption is that IT dept. of large organizations, are, understandably, risk Averse, and WaaS is forcing them to make one of two very unappetizing choices: In essence, they can:

  1. Test each of the application to verify it is compatible with the New Windows Release. The problem with this option is that it is expensive and time when one considers that MLE’s typically have 1000’s of applications in use. It is also prone to Human Error. Clearly, this is not feasible to do once or twice a year in most MLE’s.
  2. Upgrade immediately, relying on Microsoft’s officially stated compatibility rate of 99.6%. The problem with this approach is that failure of even one or two applications could have significant repercussions throughout the business. 99.6% is simply not good enough.

The approach taken by many organizations is “Wait and See”. Unfortunately, this approach cannot be followed indefinitely, as eventually, Microsoft will insist that users update to latest version. In fact, Windows 7 will be going out of support on 14 January 2020. Leaving organizations with less than 18 months to complete the migration to Windows 10.

This is the WaaS conundrum,

In future updates, we will be discussing how Microsoft is trying to help its customers, and what other alternatives are available to resolving the win10 conundrum.