Category: VDI

A Post XP World? Think Before You Spend!

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Today is the day that Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows XP (unless you are a country or a multinational bank with ATM machines).

There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about what businesses should do next, much of it originating with Microsoft.

First, you Windows XP systems will keep working.  As time moves forward, hackers will continue to find exploits in Windows XP, which Microsoft will no longer fix.  If you system is on-line, unprotected, your risk for malware and data breaches will increase over time. Realistically, with 12 years of market exposure, the “easy flaws” have been found.  Most recent security breaches is Windows XP are pretty esoteric or relate to current versions of Internet Explorer and activity in the browser.  So, no need to panic.

No need to panic.  Take time to choose how you move forward.

Option 1:  Upgrade Windows

Microsoft wants you to upgrade, to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (stay away from Windows 8, please!).  To do so, you will likely need to replace some, if not most, of your PCs and laptops.  You will also need to upgrade your endpoint protection and most of your applications.

Option 2:  Go Virtual

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) services, sometimes referred to as Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), provides a full Microsoft operating environment accessible via a small piece of software on your local machine, or via any HTML5 capable browser.  Once in your virtual desktop, you have the current OS and Office suite, along with other applications your business needs and uses.  Maintenance and upgrades are managed for you, and you can securely access your desktops from nearly any internet-connected device.  Once you decide to go virtual, you have options that let you manage the cost of change over time.

2a) Keep your XP for now.  You can keep your existing XP machines (for now), reconfiguring them as “thin clients”.  With the systems locked down to only run the VDI client or a browser, and a solid malware prevention / endpoint protection service in place, you can stretch the life of your current XP systems.  Since users do their work in the remote, Virtual Desktop, the XP platform is shielded from user interaction and malware.

2b) Go Linux.  Linux is now a business-grade operating system and serves well as the operating system for “thin clients”.  Since Linux requires much fewer system resources to run effectively, Linux gives new life to older PCs and Laptops.  As with an XP thin client, you are only using the OS and browser to access the Virtual Desktop.

2c) Go Chrome. Chromebooks cost 1/2 to 2/3 less than a typical laptop, and cost 1/6 as much to administer and manage over time.  With HTML5 receivers installed, Chromebooks can access nearly any VDI environment, including those using Citrix, VMware, and Ericom systems.  Additionally, you get direct access, with built-in malware protection to any web-based application, including Google Apps for Business, Government, and Education.  With a single Google Apps account, you have the option for full mobile device management, to further secure and control your environment.

While upgrading with Microsoft often seems like the best solution, it is fraught with upfront and ongoing costs and challenges.  Going virtual, while seemingly a more complex choice, lets you keep your current environment and replace your aging hardware over time, as you can afford to do so, with less expensive alternatives.

If you are interested in exploring your options further, please contact us for more information.

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Is Your PC a Dead-End?

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While security updates for Windows XP will continue well into 2015, the end of support and non-security updates is less than 50 days away.  According to IDC, as reported by Reuters, shipments of PCs fell 9.85 is 2013 and are expected to drop another 6.1% this year.  As more knowledge workers rely on mobile devices, the need for, and desire for, traditional desktops and laptops is vanishing.

So what is your next move?

If you upgrade from XP, your choices are limited.  Windows 8.x has been soundly rejected as a productivity killer and support challenge by enterprises as well as small and mid-size businesses.  With the expected release of Windows 9 sometime in the next year, Windows to 7 is a dead end.

Even worse, moving off XP triggers a wave of related costs, as your hardware, endpoint protection, Office suite, client access licenses, backup software, etc. must all undergo upgrades at the same time (see our prior post on this topic here).

Maybe, the “same ole, same ole” just does not work anymore.   Maybe, it is time to explore new options.  Here is some food for thought.

Hosted VDI:  Hosted VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure, environments provide you with your operating system, productivity apps, endpoint protection, disk space, and data protection — as a service.  Rather than capital expenditures, project fees, and on-going maintenance and support costs, hosted VDI services charge monthly fees for the resources you need/use and each user with an account.  Most hosted VDI services (including ours) let you install legacy and custom applications as well.  You get the environment you need without huge expenditures and version lock-in.

Cloud Back Office:  Google Apps is the best example of how businesses can provide back office IT services without building infrastructure.  Leveraging Google Apps as a platform, businesses gain email, communication, collaboration, and productivity services.  As important, Google Apps can provide robust and secure file services and cloud print services.  Beyond replacing your email server, Google Apps can replace file and print servers as well.

L.O.B. Cloud:  With greater cloud acceptance comes greater availability of cloud-based line of business (LOB) applications and systems.  From CRM and service applications to professional service automation (PSA) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, many businesses can find the line of business applications they use in the cloud.  Moving to LOB Cloud solutions, eliminates the need for complex on-premise systems as well as significant operational expense.

New End Devices:  As reported by CNET, Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, says that Chromebooks “have surprised us.”  Here is why. When you move to the cloud, you can change your end-user devices. To access cloud services and hosted VDI, you need an Internet connection and a compatible browser.  Tablets, thin clients, and Chromebooks become viable, lower cost solutions that give users access to the applications and data they need, without the acquisition and operating costs of heavy hardware and the Microsoft ecosystem.

So what is your next move?

Do you follow your current vendors without question?  Or, is it time to look at the innovative options and new market leading solutions?

Do you continue to carry the full Microsoft burden? Or, do you move to nimble hardware and cloud/hosted solutions, renting only the Microsoft environment you actually need?

Leave a comment, below, or contact us to explore your options.

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