Microsoft has announced that they will end support for Windows 7 and older versions on Jan 14, 2020, pushing all users to move to Windows 10. While there are many benefits to implementing Windows 10, including standardization, reduced costs and security, this switch can seem overwhelming to IT teams who are less familiar with pharmaceutical labs and validated lab equipment. And, a Windows 10 upgrade of your instrument PCs can often take many years for larger organizations, requiring a dedicated team to manage and implement the upgrade on a global basis.
To help answer some of the most common questions we hear from our Life Science customers, we turned to Neil Whitworth, OneSource Information Services Global Lead and Tony Jahn, OneSource IT Center of Excellence Lead. Below you will find an excerpt from our recent conversation including the six steps you need to follow to ensure a successful upgrade.
Neil: I've invited Tony who is currently working with some of our biggest customers on Windows 10 upgrade projects here today to ask him some of the questions that we often hear from customers both big and small. And one of the questions that's normally front and center in conversations is, "Is a Windows 10 upgrade really worth the time and effort?"
Tony: The short answer is yes. It is worth the time and effort. As Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 7 in January 2020, this necessitates this change, and you just can't get around it. But it's also about compliance and supportability. The biggest value is that you'll not have to do this again. Once Windows 10 is done, you will never have to do another upgrade since it is always going to be service packs going forward. Overall, your amount of change management ongoing will reduce significantly.
Neil: Let's move on to what we need to actually do for an upgrade. Tony, can you walk us through the steps that you've seen that work for a successful upgrade.
Tony: Yes, as we've done this across multiple customers, we've come up with a program that allows us to scale our approach. What we've found that we have six primary steps.
- Step one being to define deployment, scope, and objectives. Of course, find out what you have and what's due.
- Next, we'll prepare plans, strategies and teams.
- And third, we'll prepare the images and software delivery methods.
- Next, we'll image and do our, perform our software validation. Image and software value. Then we'll conduct image and software validation.
- And step five, we'll assemble and prepare our deployment teams.
- Finally, we'll deploy the images and the applications.
Each stage has specific deliverables engaged to ensure the correct upgrade paths are taken and the process overall is designed to be data driven. So you know there is concrete data to support each path decision. While it's possible to limit the complexity of each stage based on the environment, they are required. It is important to note that each environment is customized. There is no one size fits all solution. Because normal lab environments are bespoke based on what the lab is doing, its location, the products tested and so on, each lab upgrade needs to accommodate that lab's specific work flow while also adhering to an enterprise standard.
Neil: Yes, it seems a lot of work. And I'm sure that it's a good reason for the process. But I think some of our customers may look at that and say, it's an old school, waterfall approach. And I'm sure that someone would be thinking right now, "I'm sure we can skip some of these steps. Right? We don't have to do every step."
Tony: You can, but it's just not recommended. We've done this enough time to know that it's easy to miss details. It sounds fairly easy, if you consider just going from one version of Windows to the next. But there are a lot of “got you” built into a program like this. The fact that we run in validated environments means we have a lot of details to capture along the way to ensure compliance. Having a very refined and organized, and consistent approach, and making sure you do, you capture and perform all the steps will ensure that you don't miss any of the details along the way.
Neil: Right. That makes sense, but what if I don't know 100% of my IT inventory. Why don't I just do one lab at a time? I mean, I would incrementally, work my way through all my labs and I could just build up the inventory as I go. I don't know whether some of our customers would fully buy into doing this big analysis beforehand. What's the value of doing it?
Tony: Again, you can do that approach, but it's not scalable. The decisions on the approach can be very dependent on size of the problem. For example, if I had 20 plate readers across 20 labs, I could be repurchasing the software 20 times. Also, if a path decision could vary by prices, like instrument replacements, then understanding the whole environment can make a huge difference in price. With the upgrade, you have the opportunity to create a more standardized environment. If every lab makes its own decisions, then you can end up with a more fractured environment after the upgrade than before. It's also a chance to reduce your cost. If you don't know what's in your enterprise, you won't have a full picture, and the ability to take advantage of big picture discounts. Example, 20 pieces of the same equipment. If you look at them individually, you would buy each time instead of gaining discounts through enterprise licensing.
If you haven’t started your upgrade, or if you have started but realize you need help with any step of the process, contact us today. We will bring in the experts you need to do this in a timely manner, who will evaluate your full enterprise and make sure you have the process and people in place for a successful upgrade.