Effective January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 7, its 10-year-old operating system. What does that entail for the approximately 43 percent of enterprises that continue to rely on the outdated operating system?
Two things, above all: increased security vulnerabilities and rapidly escalating costs.
Bad actors are adept at exploiting weaknesses in Windows 7's security, as the recent BlueKeep vulnerability makes clear. Before that, of course, there was the EternalBlue exploit, which held thousands of computers in Baltimore for ransom — and before that, the WannaCry virus. And the list goes on and on. For enterprises that continue to run Windows 7, the message is clear: You're drawing a target on your back.
Extended support is available to customers running the Enterprise or Pro versions of Microsoft 7 — but it comes with a hefty price tag, and those costs will double every year (until January 2023, when support will expire completely). For an operating system that's already 10 years old, that kind of financial outlay simply doesn't make sense.
Perhaps equally bad, companies that continue to run Windows 7 will find themselves fenced out from leveraging the newest technologies as well. The latest processors from Intel and AMD, for example, don't support Windows 7.
For these reasons and more, one-third of companies say migrating to Windows 10 is a top organizational priority for 2020. But doing so won't be easy, hinging on a whole constellation of factors — number of users, type and volume of equipment to be migrated, status of legacy applications, availability of resources and more. And without the right talent on hand to deliver, migration just might prove to be a far lengthier and more complex undertaking than many companies are ready for.
Let's break down the four phases of the migration journey in detail, focusing specifically on key talent challenges you should be aware of for each.
4 phases — and talent needs — of successful migrations
Your talent needs will vary across the migration process, but the migration itself typically follows four phases:
Let’s drill down into the specific tech talent requirements for each phase — as you’ll see, based on input from Randstad’s Win10 migration experts as well as the latest data from Burning Glass, that includes some of the most highly in-demand professionals on the job market today.
discovery and planning
The discovery and planning phase is all about thinking through your as-is and to-be states: that is, where you are (and who you have on board) today, versus where you want to be tomorrow. And no matter what that journey looks like, solution architects and windows engineers will have key roles to play. So enterprises, beware: Competition for these tech experts is fiercer than ever. In fact, there were more than 5,000 job postings across the U.S. for windows engineers alone over the past 12 months.
Plus, if you're looking to automate the migration, you'll need Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) engineers and desktop engineers on hand as well. If you have homegrown applications to contend with, you'll also need application developers (80,000-plus job postings in the past 12 months) to modify those programs and ensure that they continue to function in the new environment. Finally, you'll need IT project managers (85,000-plus job postings in the past 12 months) throughout all phases of the migration to keep everything on track and communicate with stakeholders.
Most of the core skill sets driving the discovery and planning phase will continue to add value during the design phase. At the same time, new roles will come to the fore as well.
Purchasing new equipment, for example, will require additional engineers and testers to ensure compatibility with the new operating system. And with so many moving pieces, project coordinators will likely become an essential part of the game plan. Given that there were more than 50,000 openings for these professionals in the last 12 months, however, successfully sourcing them isn't going to be easy.
Pilot testing is a key, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of implementation. And doing it right requires not only highly skilled testing personnel, but a wide range of tech team members working in concert to troubleshoot and correct problems as they arise.
As the project grows in scope, too, project coordinators, project schedulers and even assistant project managers may be required. In turn, desk-side support technicians and deployment technicians might be scattered across several sites to address ad hoc problems and errors. Meanwhile, systems engineers or architects (more than 121,000 and 8,000 job postings, respectively, in the past 12 months) will need to be on hand to deal with potential escalations as well. Notice that both of these roles entail lengthy hiring cycles, too.
During rapid deployments involving updates to hundreds of machines each day, enterprise service desks are often completely overwhelmed with requests. When that happens, a temporary service desk is often the best solution.
Yet, with the Windows 7 deadline approaching, expect competition for qualified support technicians to become even more feverish. After all, it's difficult enough today to place qualified tech talent for short-term — say, six-month — assignments. Imagine how difficult that's going to be when the migration challenge really kicks into high gear.
the value of strategic partners
For any enterprise struggling with the migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10, there's actually a smart fifth step — one that serves as a complement to the four phases outlined above.
Instead of paying for ongoing Windows 7 support or scrambling to fill highly in-demand roles on a tight timeline, both of which come with clear challenges as well as steep costs, enterprises should consider outsourcing all or part of the migration to a strategic partner — one that can alleviate pain points, curb costs and ensure the long-term success of migration efforts.
After all, attempting in-house migrations with managers and staff members who haven't necessarily planned or implemented large-scale migrations in the past is risky. And you simply can't afford the time and expenses that would come with starting over again from scratch.
So whether you're looking to hire talent with the skills needed to plan and manage your Windows 7 migration – or if you'd rather offload all or part of the process — Randstad Technologies is here to help.