With the current focus of organizations on digital business transformation, and the security landscape that exists, IT teams are being tasked with spending time on strategic new business initiatives and less time on “business as usual” activities.
For Kimberly-Clark, like many organizations, business as usual used to involve a deployment process “that relies on custom applications and a lot of manual work. Lengthy software upgrades cost both our IT staff and our users, who have to wait for new software services,” says Dorothy Stephenson, Director of IT Client Services at Kimberly-Clark.
In order to reduce the considerable time required to regularly update software on its 33,000 client devices, Kimberly-Clark is switching to Windows 10 and embracing the “Windows-as-a-Service” model. Already, the company has shrunk software deployment and update times by 75%. “With the Windows-as-a-Service model that’s been introduced with Windows 10, we have reduced our operating system deployment time from up to eight weeks to less than two weeks,” says Stephenson.
Utilizing Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness, a free tool from Microsoft, organizations can now see the applications currently running by users, how often these applications are used, and how compatible they are for the next release of Windows 10 for the Windows-as-a-Service model. By quickly being able to see devices and ensuring that all of the applications are compatible, businesses can eliminate the time historically spent on testing each individual application, making it is faster and easier for organizations to upgrade.
With the Windows-as-a-Service model aligned to Office ProPlus servicing, twice-per-year feature updates, and 18 months serving timelines for each release, organizations also running Office 365 ProPlus will also benefit from Microsoft’s free tool called the Office ProPlus Readiness toolkit.
Feedback on the new model has been positive. “We think the Windows-as-a-Service model is fantastic,” Stephenson says. “We won’t have to package software images and send out incremental updates anymore. It will be a huge time saver for us.”
According to Forrester research, IT administrators estimate a 20% improvement in management time, as Windows 10 requires less IT time to install, manage, and support with in-place deployment and more self-service functions.
For Kimberly-Clark, additional time savings come from efficiencies gained by using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and the Operating System Deployment (OSD) tool in that software. With OSD, the IT Client Services team has greater flexibility and many automated features. An employee simply selects Windows 10 and a deployment timeframe in the Configuration Manager portal, and Windows 10 downloads are triggered automatically to the employee’s device. This saves the IT team from the laborious task of building multiple OS images and pushing them out individually.
IT continues to need to do more, but budgets remain tight
With 400 locations in 78 countries and more than 80,000 associates, MARS wanted to avoid the cost and time of repeated operating system upgrades. Previous enterprise-wide upgrades had gaps of up to four years and cost more than $4 million, plus the operational overhead of managing multiple systems during the long transition. “It made more sense to spend our time and money on optimizing our work environment, finding new ways to safeguard high-value corporate data, and delivering other strategic contributions to the business,” says David Boersma, Senior Manager for End User Technologies at MARS.
To avoid the effort and expense of future upgrades to its very large Windows environment, MARS subscribed to the Windows-as-a-Service model. The incremental updates will help MARS improve platform stability, enhance security for thousands of devices, and introduce a constant flow of new tools and capabilities. “I told my team that I never want to do a big-bang operating system migration again,” says Paul L’Estrange, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Core Services at MARS.
By eliminating future full-scale upgrades, MARS will save millions of dollars that can be redirected for use to transform MARS IS into a strategic center of innovation and business value. It will save $250,000 on third-party licensing and maintenance each year. “Initiatives like Windows 10 and our new digital workplace help MARS direct IT investment dollars toward unlocking greater potential across our organization,” says Jonathan Chong, Digital Workplace and Corporate Systems Director at MARS.
Organizations have also been able to reduce the costs associated to help desk calls by leveraging Windows Analytics Device Health. This tool provides proactive insights to help detect and remediate end-user impacting issues, such as known device drivers that are causing device crashes. By proactively remediating end-user issues, businesses can reduce supports costs, improve efficiency, and increase end-user productivity.
So how are other organizations setting up the Windows as a Service model in their organization?
- Plan and prepare: Leverage the Windows Insider Program to follow along with the development of new Windows 10 features to prepare for deployment, while at the same time validating compatibility and providing feedback on any issues or concerns.
- Leverage free tools: Take advantage of the tools discussed in this article, Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness & Office ProPlus Readiness toolkit, to quickly validate compatibility and testing the most important business critical applications.
- Target and react to feedback: Starting as soon as a new Semi-Annual Channel feature update is released, begin targeted pilot deployments to a targeted group of machines that have been identified as recruit volunteers (typically suggest around 10%) to validate app, device, and infrastructure compatibility.
- Deploy broadly: Once satisfied with the results of the pilot deployments, focus on the large-scale deployment using deployment rings throughout the organization. Microsoft provides guidance on using deployment rings that target groups of computers and that splits individual departments into multiple rings, and can be accessed here.
This free webinar provides more information on streamlining and accelerating upgrades, monitoring updates, and improving performance and reliability.