Six Steps Enterprise IT Should Take To Proactively Prepare For Windows 8

Two days ago I had an interview with the Head of End User and Desktop Services of a global pharmaceutical company. He mentioned that he's working through Windows 8, VDI, BYO and other key initiatives facing IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. 

As a quick thank you, I sent him Dave Johnson's recent report on Windows 8. This report is part of Forrester's Workforce Enable Playbook (click here for a free copy of the exec overview) that Dave along with J. P. GownderMichele PelinoChristian KaneChris Voce and Thayer Frechette all contribute to. Here's what he had to say: 

 

Your Windows 8 report is in direct alignment with the position we have taken. Now we have good industry data to support our position with the business as they push for Windows 8. When they challenge why we don’t have [an enterprise rollout] ‘plan’ for Windows 8, this is a report we can utilize to demonstrate we are in line with a lot of companies in this approach. 

We're showing our business the section in your report on the ‘Six Steps I&O Pros Should Proactively Take To Prepare For Windows 8’ and linking these steps to actual projects we have in progress, such as Windows 7 migration, adopting a client virtualization strategy, etc.

 

If you're also evaluating and preparing for Windows 8, hopefully this will help. Below is an abbreviated excerpt from this report that offers six recommendations for I&O professionals to proactively prepare for Windows 8:

1. Accelerate and ultimately complete enterprisewide Windows 7 migrations. With the end of extended support for Windows XP arriving on April 8, 2014, it's too early to get distracted by the Windows 8 hype to shift focus away from your enterprisewide Windows 7 migration project. But rest assured that this laborious effort will ultimately pay off with greater compatibility if or when your organization decides to support Windows 8.

2. Implement a formal BYOD policy and program. With Windows 8 adoption demand coming mostly from employees, it's wise to formalize your BYOD policy and begin with a pilot program that identifies which employees are the best fit for a BYOD program and prescribes a clear technology and management strategy. Windows 8 can serve as the start for PC inclusion.

3. Shift apps to the cloud and embrace open web standards. The quicker application developers can shift apps to the cloud, the better off you'll be; it will minimize future migration efforts while providing employees with better access and a wider range of devices. Encourage and incentivize the development of apps on open web standards such as HTML5 instead of specific browsers, such as Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

4. Implement and expand use of application and desktop virtualization. Client virtualization technologies — hosted and local — properly matched to employee work styles provide an effective means of accelerating BYOD programs by allowing IT to provide a standardized, well-managed environment on employee-owned devices. Client virtualization can also take legacy applications off the critical path for upgrades and give workers more productivity options.

5. Create a virtual lab environment to test new platforms, apps, and devices. Build a testing lab that adequately embodies the target environment, using virtualization to reduce the cost of creating physical labs.

6. Start with a small pilot and seed Windows 8 PCs to accelerate feedback. Begin with a small pilot of workers that represent the different business units within the company. Consider seeding devices to accelerate the feedback cycle and explore new form factor use, such as tablets, ultrabooks, and all-in-ones, that match specific worker profiles.

 

Doug Washburn is a Research Director on Forrester's IT Infrastructure & Operations research team. Follow him on Twitter here @dougwashburn.