According to an August 26 Gartner press release, your Windows 7 migration may have a painful impact on your budget. The heart of the problem is summed up in this quote from Gartner managing vice president Charles Smulders:
Corporate IT departments typically prefer to migrate PC operating systems (OSs) via hardware attrition, which means bringing in the new OS as they replace hardware through a normal refresh cycle. Microsoft will support Windows XP for four more years. With most migrations not starting until the fourth quarter of 2010 at the earliest, and PC hardware replacement cycles typically running at four to five years, most organizations will not be able to migrate to Windows 7 through usual planned hardware refresh before support for Windows XP ends.
Because of this time crunch, Gartner says that you really have only one of three options:
- Accelerate your PC replacement schedule. This obviously will impact your capital budget.
- Upgrade some of your existing PCs. Unfortunately, not all of your PCs are likely to support Windows 7 without some upgrades. In fact, Gartner estimates that 25% of the installed base of PCs will require some kind of hardware upgrade to run Windows 7. Also, unless you’re prepared to stretch out the life of these upgraded PCs beyond your usual upgrade cycle, those users are going to end up being migrated twice, not once, during the next four years. Gartner’s estimate of the migration cost per PC, assuming a large enterprise with 10,000 PCs where all PCs are upgraded: between $1,274 and $2,069, depending on how well-managed the environment is to begin with, which, by the way, is not a heck of a lot less than their estimated migration cost if you do just replace them.
- Migrate some users to a “hosted virtual desktop” instead of a new PC.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know were we stand on the “hosted virtual desktop” issue. To most people, the term “hosted virtual desktop” refers to a virtual instance of a PC OS (e.g., Windows 7) running on a virtualized infrastructure such as VMware, Hyper-V, or XenServer. However, this is only one way to deliver a virtual desktop to a user. Other ways include:
- Delivering a shared desktop from a server using Remote Desktop Services and XenApp (we’ve been doing this for years).
- Streaming the PC OS from a common, shared image to a physical PC across the local area network. (Note that this would still require that the hardware in the physical PC be able to support the new OS.)
- Streaming the PC OS to a client-side hypervisor (XenClient) so the client device can be disconnected from the network and continue to operate.
We’re also of the opinion that no single one of these approaches will fit all use cases. But the nice thing about Citrix XenDesktop is that you can mix and match any and all of these use cases to the needs of your users, all under a single license model.
It still isn’t going to be inexpensive. As Gartner points out, you have to build the virtual infrastructure to deliver those desktops, which will involve both capital costs and labor costs. Anyone who tells you that VDI will save you money in immediate capital costs compared with buying new PCs is not being straight with you. But you can, according to other studies, save up to 40% in your “Total Cost of Ownership” (“TCO”).
And your other alternatives aren’t inexpensive either. So why not take advantage of this opportunity to change the way you deploy and manage PCs? Take a look at what you can do with XenDesktop today, think about how much easier and less costly your Windows 7 roll out would be if you already had XenDesktop in place, and then think about how much easier and less costly your next major PC upgrade project will be if you deploy XenDesktop now.
Windows 7 is going to impact your budget one way or another. Gartner estimates that if you just decide to accelerate your upgrade cycle, the percentage of your IT budget that you spend on PCs will need to increase somewhere between 20% and 60% in 2011 and 2012. If, as in many organizations, your PC spending accounts for 15% of your overall IT budget, that means that in 2011 and 2012 you’re going to be spending between 18% and 25% of your budget on PCs instead of 15%. And that will impact other projects.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Gartner also predicts that the demand for “highly qualified Windows 7 migration IT personnel” will exceed supply in 2011 and 2012. Remember those discussions about supply & demand back in Economics 101? Yep, that means that IT labor costs are going to go up. In fact, Gartner predicts that the labor shortage, and higher costs, will persist into 2013 as organizations realize that they’re behind in their planned migration schedule and try to figure out what to do about it.
Mr. Smulders had a recommendation on that as well: “Begin talks with suppliers now about putting in place contracts that can deliver flexible levels of resources at a fixed rate over the migration period.”
If you want to purchase a copy of the full report from Gartner, you can order one through their Web site. Or, if you just want to take Mr. Smulders’ advice, you can reach us at (206) 774-0619, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by using our handy information request form. We’re here to help.