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Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, IT Solutions, Microsoft, Technology, Uncategorized

Windows 7 to Windows 10: Migration Best Practices


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So, you’re thinking of migrating to Windows 10 before the Windows 7 end of life cut-off date. As much as your operating system isn’t always something you ponder, letting go of Windows 7 has proven to be a difficult step for a lot of users and, let’s face it, you too. But, with extended support ending in January 2020, it’s no longer something that organisations can ignore. In fact, the longer migration is left the more stressful it will be. It’s important to realise that the times are changing; Windows 10 isn’t a traditional migration by any means. Microsoft has labelled it the ‘final’ OS, by rethinking the old system of new versions every three years. This new ‘evergreen’ method eliminates the need to constantly create something better and new, by updating automatically twice a year indefinitely so that you don’t need to think about it.

While organisations can still enjoy the security of the extended support for a little while longer, it is imperative that a migration to Windows 10 gets completed before the deadline. Forgoing the update will result in an unsecure operating system. Microsoft will no longer offer technical support, software updates, security updates or fixes. Your organisation will be at greater risk for viruses and malware, leaving you open to not only significant fines, but the risk of cyber criminals exploiting the lapse. But why migrate to Windows 10 specifically? Aside from the obvious evergreen operating system, Microsoft has also officially pledged that organisations that adopt Windows 10 are unlikely to face any compatibility issues. To help you embrace the new possibilities of Windows 10, here are the best practices to make your migration as smooth as possible.

This is a transformation, not a migration
Windows 10 is unique in terms of Windows OS as it brings with it an opportunity for organisations to rethink how they do Windows management, by using new modern management features. These offer IT departments the chance to manage PCs in a way similar to mobile devices, which is significant as it allows them to manage all end-user computing devices, regardless of operating system, with the same set of tools. Modern management also allows for anywhere and anytime management, even if they’re off the domain- and it’s easier, lightweight and more modern in terms of management overall.

Pick the right version of Windows 10
With the new version of Windows, Microsoft has made three versions available for customers to choose from.
1. The Windows Insider Program (WIP) offers users the opportunity to be an early adapter of the latest features that will eventually be incorporated into the mainstream version. It’s a way for users to get a sneak peek into what’s in store.
2. The Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is optimal for users with devices that do not change and are fixed in function, such as point-of-sale (POS), kiosks, bank teller devices and PCs attached to manufacturing or healthcare devices. This version is exclusive to organisations and is not intended for mainstream PCs.
3. The most common version deployed is the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). This is the one whose target audience is business computers for production and is designed for the most common scenarios. Each SAC release is available for 18 months, its first pilot stage for three.

Getting the right team together
The vast majority of organisations have already successfully completed other Windows migrations in the past. This Windows 10 migration is slightly different, due to the potential impact to a broader audience, so it will require a strong cross-team effort to achieve the desired results. Your team should be made up of a project manager, a technical lead, representation from appdev, and user business units so that their interests can be included. To make sure that the migration runs smoothly, the team should be committed at least part time for three to six months (or even longer), depending on the size of your organisation, the complexity of the project and priorities.

Use standardisation to reduce complexity
PC computing can become fairly complex due to the variables of device types, application updates and user-injected activities constantly changes the makeup of what generally becomes a standard configuration. Migrating to Windows 10 is the best time to eliminate any unnecessary configurations that add to the complexity. Make the most for your IT team erasing needless applications, reducing the number of device types and minimising the variability of user configurations.

Consider different approaches to your Windows migration
There are several ways that you can handle a Windows migration.
PC refresh
This is the first choice for new PCs since there’s no legacy technology to worry about. It can however, cost a bit more, as the OEM image often includes bloatware and is generally incomplete for most users.
In-place upgrade
These are usually popular for Windows 10 since Microsoft made the upgrade process far simpler and easy to manage. Just remember that legacy application capability issues and less than ideal configurations get moved as part of the process.
Re-imagining
Extending the life of PC assets, re-imagining resets the image to a known-good state that has to be tested and vetted properly. It can, however, be expensive as new images need to be created for existing PCs and can take several weeks.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
For the last option, VDI allows for high degrees of standardisation in a secure way from a centralised infrastructure. VDI migrations are ideal for organisations whose users have an identical application need, such as call centres or with remote agents. A slight downside, VDI does require infrastructure, which some customers find challenging.

Embrace unified endpoint management
Possibly the most significant opportunity to arise from the Windows 7 end of life is the possibility to adopt a modern IT management style that will not only positively affect your users, but your organisation as well, by leveraging unified endpoint management. It provides numerous benefits across physical devices, while enhancing security through modern configuration management of user policies, which handles the deployment of applications and manages OS patch management activities. This approach allows organisations to manage Windows with the same skills being used today on mobile while unifying activities across all EUC environments.

Sounds good? Here are the minimum hardware requirements to run Windows 10 smoothly; a 1GHz processor, 1 GB (32-bit) RAM, 16GB of hard disk space, a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM diver, and- obviously-, a Microsoft account and internet access. Basically, they’re the same as for Windows 7, but with a processor that supports PAE, NX and SSE2.

There is so much more to an organisation than its operating system, but then it’s such a critical part. Here at Cetus, your organisation’s IT is our priority, and with the Windows 7 end of life coming ever closer we’re the best choice for your Windows 10 deployment and support. Make sure to have a chat our experts sooner rather than later, and make the switch to Windows 10 the easiest you’ve ever experienced.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Cloud, Microsoft, Technology, Uncategorized, VMware

Prepare Your Business for Windows 7 End of Life


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Why would you ever change a good thing? Because of end of life, that’s why. Grab your tissues, we’re delving into the topic that’s provoking international furore and mourning; the painful issue of Windows 7 end of life. When it comes to desktop and laptop operating systems for both personal and professional use, Windows 7 has been number one since its release in 2009. Originally intended to be an incremental upgrade to Microsoft Windows, especially after the disaster that was Windows Vista three years prior, it maintains hardware and software compatibility. A major improvement to its predecessor, Windows 7 quickly won the hearts of every computer user worldwide. Sadly, tech hard- and software are not designed to last, and it was only a matter of time before it would see end of life. Though Microsoft has tried to ease the public into the idea of something bigger and better with the release of Windows 8 (which didn’t go down as well as expected) and Windows 10 (which just isn’t Windows 7), the truth is, frankly, hard to swallow.

“But why?” you sob, “We don’t have to let it go, no one would know!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. Well, it could, but it would open your organisation to all of the nasties that would just love the chance to infiltrate your system. The main problem here is support. You might be surprised to hear that mainstream support for Windows 7 ended all the way back in 2015, which means that Microsoft hasn’t been releasing feature update and service packs since then. That might give you some hope, but alas, I’m here to dash those completely. The only reason that you’ve been safely able to use Windows 7 up until now was thanks to the security patches released through the extended support period, which will end on the 14th January 2020.

Technically, you could continue to use Windows 7 after the extended support period, but the risk of a cyberattack would be significantly higher, and you’d have to ask yourself if it would be worth the risk. Microsoft won’t be taking any responsibility for any security breaches that happen to a Windows 7 operating system after the end of life date, and any breach could land you in deep water (and a deeper fine) in terms of the new GDPR regulations. The issue with end of life is the loss of the security updates that fix vulnerabilities that hackers exploit. Any new computer viruses and malware being created would be far more advanced compared to the old security patches. Why put so much money and time into protecting your business data only to leave your organisation wide open to any cyber attack that happens to be the goût du jour? You might think that 14th of January is miles away. And it is, but in terms of IT it’s not long at all.

So, if ever it was time for a spring clean, now would be it! The more time you have to plan, the less disruption your IT team and end users are likely to experience, which is likely to happen if your software is incompatible with your new operating system. Compatibility is likely to be an issue here, as is old hardware (oh look, a new reason for your printer to refuse to cooperate) and your legacy systems. Since it’s effectively changing the very foundation on which your laptops and desktops rely on, it’s important to make sure that your systems remain interoperable with one another. Some applications might have newer, more compatible versions available which will work flawlessly on your updated operating system. Another option is to move your legacy applications to a virtualised computing environment, easing the change. Before jumping straight into an OS change, it’s important to have a strategy in place to prevent everything from going a bit pie-shaped and cause any more tears. The good news is, if you’re relying on a cloud-hosted system, upgrading your operating system shouldn’t be much of an issue at all.

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced the ‘evergreen’ Windows as a service model. This is a complete revolution in terms of OS, and it has launched the idea of a ‘final’ desktop release. Instead of having to migrate to new versions every three years, Windows 10 will continuously update every six months or so, providing continued support and patched security. With shorter release periods (only 18 months now), Windows 10 can’t be treated like a traditional version. To make things that much easier, it’s now possible for an in-place upgrade, meaning that you don’t need to migrate your data and reinstall all of your programs. Windows 10 provides plenty of new features for users when compared to Windows 7, such as Windows Autopilot, which automatically provisions and enrols your device when you sign in, provided that you’re connected to the internet.

January 14th next year will be an incredibly sad day for the millions of Windows 7 users who have so far refused to move on. We’re expecting a world-wide shortage of tissues, ice cream and Windows 10, a resounding wail of “Not Windows 7! What is this Windows 10 malarkey?” reverberating in the crisp January air. Here at Cetus we know that change is scary and unwanted. We feel the pain of saying goodbye to Windows 7, but know that when it comes to your organisation, we will help ease all parties into the next operating system step. Make sure to have a chat with our experts, who will provide the tissues during this painful time, and every other OS change in the future. If you want the most in-depth info and latest tips, make sure to register for our exclusive hands-on workshop with VMware in May.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Citrix, Microsoft, News, Press Release, Uncategorized

Citrix Platinum Partner, Cetus Solutions, to Showcase New Brand at IPEXPO 2018


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Citrix Platinum Partner, Cetus Solutions, will be showcasing, instrato, its Hybrid Cloud Solution stack at this year’s IP Expo.

Officially launched in July of this year, instrato focuses on delivering high-quality cloud deployments for organisations that are looking to move to the cloud as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Cetus Solutions is one of the UK’s leading Citrix Platinum partners and multiple award winners with over 17-years’ experience in delivering tailored solutions to customers.

As one of only three partners who hold all four esteemed Citrix Specialisations – A Citrix worldwide recognised standard achieved by only the technical elite – Cetus design and deliver Secure Application and Data Delivery Platforms embracing Citrix’s Networking and Digital Cloud Workspace solutions.

instrato brings together Cetus’ experience and successful business outcomes in building hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions.

This experience, while not born in the cloud, was born from unparalleled solution experience and industry knowledge. instrato delivers one of the most prominent and proven hybrid cloud solutions for Citrix and Microsoft Azure platforms.

Cetus has exhibited at IP Expo since 2012, and as an established Citrix partner will be exhibiting this year in the Citrix Partner Zone on stand K26, demonstrating the company’s experience and knowledge in Citrix’s Workspace, Networking and Analytic solutions.

Plus, Cetus’ customer, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, will be speaking at the event on 3rd October at 13:40 in the App Virtualisation & Mobile Workspaces theatre. Justin Beardsmore, the Trust’s CIO, will be explaining why L&G NHS Trust chose to work with Cetus to deploy over 6,000Citrix virtual workspaces on Microsoft Azure as part of its modern workspace strategy.

For more information on this release, please contact Colleen O’Brien: 0161 848 4315

Blog, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Microsoft, Our Upcoming Events, Uncategorized

A Brief History of Azure


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You’d be hard pressed to imagine a modern world without Microsoft Azure. Since 2010, it has graced many a cloud strategy, promising to deliver an ever-expanding set of cloud services to help meet organisations’ business challenges. It’s safe to say that it provides full freedom to build, manage and deploy applications on a large scale, using plenty of tools and frameworks to achieve it. The inner workings of Azure were already in the planning stages in 2005. Hoping to bring disruption to internet services, Ray Ozzy, Chief Technical Officer and Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, insisted that Azure would bring “the effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model” that would also create “the demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’.” 13 years later, and eight years after being released into the public domain, Azure has done just that.

When it comes to cloud computing, Microsoft offers all of the main categories that interest organisations; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Microsoft, being Microsoft, has had every opportunity to innovate, diversify and establish Azure as a top-level fixture in the industry. Announced in October 2008 with codename ‘Project Red Dog’, it wasn’t always one of the Big Players in the world of cloud. Microsoft intended on launching a total of five key categories of cloud services, with Azure in the hot seat for compute, storage and networking; while incorporating Microsoft SQL Services for databases; .NET Services for developers, Live Services for filesharing and Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for SaaS offerings.

Take yourself back to 2010. It was the year that brought so many highs and lows for the country; Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, the engagement announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the brutal loss for England to host the 2018 World Cup (which evidently went to Russia). Originally called Windows Azure, it provided a service platform for SQL Services, .Net services and Live Services. Back then, the ‘cloud’ was a semi-obscure idea that some couldn’t really get their heads around. Honestly, the internet was a wacky idea in the 90s but in 2010 we’d largely accepted it as a fundamental human right, so being able to store data and access apps online wasn’t much of a stretch. But anyway. Because of that slight doubt, Azure didn’t know it, but it was on the cusp of a technological revolution- and it was at the right place at the right time to reap the rewards.

Unfortunately, in 2011 Azure had a slight hiccup. Still in its infancy, the documentation describing Azure services and capabilities was deemed incomprehensible, and its web-based interface was difficult to use. Thankfully, in May 2011 Scott Guthrie, former Corporate Vice President of the .Net platform at Microsoft, took over the Azure Application Platform team in order to shake things up a little and make some improvements. And he did! The user interface that was formerly a Silverlight application was changed to a HTML5 web portal, which improved things drastically and made the whole platform feel more like a systematised set of services. Adding support for quite a wide variety of programming languages, frameworks and operating systems (including, surprisingly, Linux) propelled Azure into a new, more innovative age. By 2014, Azure had made significant leaps in user experience. Becoming a cloud platform known for being robust and comprehensive for IaaS and PaaS cloud computing models. By continuing to expand its cloud capabilities, it has increased its support for open source software, making Azure the first choice for organisations that don’t even run Windows. In the years that followed, Azure has gone from strength to strength, developing significantly since 2008. The platform has seen only a few major outages in its history, creating an impressive reputation of reliability in a world where even five minutes of downtime can mean hundreds of thousands in loss of profits for organisations.

Back to 2018; Microsoft Azure enjoys a very mature, stable and reliable reputation as a secure public cloud provider, holding the title of second-largest IaaS and PaaS provider (behind Amazon Web Services) in the world. We are proud to work with Microsoft, obviously a huge name in the world of IT in its own right, but also with Azure. We regularly incorporate the platform as part of a business challenge solution as its flexibility and dependability are second to none. We hope this blog post has piqued your interest in the opportunities that Azure can open. If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with Citrix, make sure to keep an eye on our events page where we regularly share workshops and webinars to keep you in the know!

 

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Microsoft, Technology, Uncategorized

Future Decoded – The Microsoft Security Story


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Change has been the only constant in 2016 – with Brexit, and a change of prime minister, notably creating a great deal of noise and uncertainty around the future of the UK economy. With 44% of UK business leaders indicating their current business models will not exist in 5 years and predictions intensifying that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, it is increasingly apparent that as businesses we must understand change, explore transformation and adapt in order to avoid extinction.

So, it came as no surprise the key theme of Microsoft’s annual UK event Future Decoded was centred on digital transformation. Whilst Microsoft’s core mission remains unchanged – to empower every organisation and every person to achieve more – the first day of Future Decoded focused less on the things we know that Microsoft do consistently well – providing rich user experiences, suites of applications, and intuitive interfaces, and instead cemented their strategy around security and proved how Microsoft are enabling business and digital transformation.

But it wasn’t just Microsoft’s strategy around security that took centre stage. During one of the opening keynotes, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, formally launched the government’s new National Cyber Security Strategy, which sets out decisive action that we will be taking to protect the UK economy, the privacy of British citizens, whilst encouraging and equipping industry to prevent damaging cyber-attacks.

The Chancellor recognised that cyber security is one of the greatest threats to business around the world – with the global cost of crimes estimated at in excess of $445 billion. However, the Chancellor predicts that this new strategy underpinned by £1.9 billion of investment will position the UK as one of the safest places in the world to do business – perhaps a compelling reason for businesses to remain in the UK instead of fleeing in the aftermath of Brexit.

“If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do the digital business,” The Chancellor said, “Trust in the internet and the infrastructure on which it relies is fundamental to our economic future.”

With data the currency of today’s world, a predicted 1 million new devices coming online per hour by 2020 and Microsoft opening UK data centres that deliver world-class reliability and data residency earlier this year, I was interested to explore how Microsoft’s security strategy has evolved. I was not disappointed.

During a breakout session, Microsoft illustrated exactly how they have upped their game, and integrated their products to create a solution which is seriously cool, effortlessly delivered, and oh… it’s available today when using EMS, Intune and Windows 10. Sophisticated security built on principles around user ‘identity’, facial recognition and multi-factor authentication, and integrated access and control policies, resulting in a solution that presents itself as simple, seamless… and can be completely self-provisioned by any end user (seriously it looked idiot proof… perhaps even I could replicate the demo – perhaps that’s a vblog for another time!)

Security has been one of the many, and important, focus areas at Future Decoded. Make sure you follow Cetus Solutions on LinkedIn, where over the next few days I will be posting additional blogs around some of the product announcements and updates, forward thinking around big data and AI, workspaces, Skype for Business, and migrating to Windows 10.

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