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Are You Ready to Exploit Windows 8?

The impending release of Windows 8 brings a range of new benefits, opportunities and challenges for organizations of all shapes and sizes. The wave of new technology coming from Redmond in the coming months includes not just Windows 8 on the client, but also Windows RT, Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V Server 2012, App-V 5.0, Office 14, and Internet Explorer 10. All of these releases promise major advances in business efficiency and agility, with more features than ever in the out-of-the-box platform bringing the promise of reduced costs.

So, what are some of the key considerations as organizations look to exploit Windows 8?

1. Application Readiness
The promise is that applications that are compatible with Windows 7 will work unmodified on Windows 8; but, we know from experience that many apps were crow-barred onto Windows 7 with compatibility fixes and patches that will need re-evaluation on Windows 8. In addition, security model changes and deprecated parts of the Windows operating system mean that all applications should be retested. In addition, Windows Server 2012, Internet Explorer 10, App-V 5.0 and Office 14 all affect an organization's application readiness. Automated application readiness solutions are available that can deliver an accurate risk assessment of the readiness of your application estate, without the need to install and run each application.

2. Desktop Virtualization (hypervisor)
With Hyper-V 3.0, Microsoft has really taken the game to VMware, making Hyper-V even more attractive as an alternative hypervisor at considerably lower costs. While Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1 was already a fantastic platform for desktop virtualization, the expected increased acceptance of Hyper-V 3.0 for server virtualization -- both as a free, standalone product and also in Windows Server 2012 -- leads us to expect to see even more desktop virtualization projects based on Hyper-V. For lowest cost, look for a broker and management software that do not require any extra layers of management above the hypervisor, but can interface and manage Hyper-V Server directly.

3. Desktop Virtualization (protocol)
With Remote Desktop Protocol version 8.0, Microsoft has really upped its game compared to Citrix's HDX/ICA and VMware/Teradici's PCoIP, offering dramatic performance and other user experience improvements out of the box. Expect to see the desktop virtualization conversation shift away from protocol and toward cloud-style management and automation!

4. Windows RT tablets
The latest edition of Windows, optimized for ARM tablet devices, promises to add a third way for the tablet market to be dominated by iPad and Android. As these new devices creep their way into the enterprise, users will expect to be able to use corporate apps and data on them. However, Windows RT cannot be domain-joined, so has little in the way of centralized security control. Identity and access management, where the user identity carefully controls their privileges and access, will be a must-have in this new world.

In addition, desktop virtualization is worthy of a closer look as a way to get Windows apps and desktops onto these new devices. Look for solutions with Metro UI interfaces, since third-party apps cannot be installed into the Windows 7-style UI in Windows RT. In addition, look for advanced identity and access management solutions that granularly control access and privilege based on the user's identity and policies. With reduced control over the endpoint, and an increasingly consumerized world, management of the user, rather than the device, is increasingly important and, in some situations, the only option.

5. User Environment Management
Although Windows 8 comes with new and extended technologies providing control of the user's environment within Windows, and even optionally stores some of those settings and preferences in a cloud store, there still is a need for corporate centralized control for both security and productivity. The ideal solution provides granular, central control over every aspect of the user's experience, based on a wide range of location, platform, organizational, and policy criteria. This capability remains as important as ever in Windows 8, especially with the expanded user interface and integration with file cloud storage options.

Third-party management solutions continue to be essential to delivering a productive, secure, managed environment including Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012. Of course, Windows 8 is just part of the modern "user workspace," so, for a truly complete management solution, the organization should select a vendor that also can reach out and deliver this workspace across multiple devices and platforms, including Mac, Android, iOS, and other devices.

Posted by Jon Rolls on 06/05/2012 at 12:49 PM


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