5 goals large enterprises can achieve with a Windows 7 migration

Careful planning and preparation is required for large organizations before going ahead with enterprise-wide operating system migrations. Today, IT managers worldwide are accelerating their efforts toward planning for and migrating to Windows 7.

This particular operating system is a derivative of Windows Vista, albeit a much improved one, so the benefits are evident in terms of compatibility, interoperability, security and manageability.

In fact, Forrester Consulting completed an online survey of 200 large enterprise and public sector organizations in the US, Canada, and the UK with 1,000 or more employees concerning their migration plans for Windows 7. The study found that 93% of firms planned on completing their enterprise-wide migrations before 2014. This is why, in this article we will define 5 goals that large enterprises can achieve with a Windows 7 migration:

1.    Keep your team mobile and connected

Windows 7 provides a feature called DirectAccess that enables mobile workers to connect to corporate networks without the use of a VPN, giving business users more flexibility and easing the burden on IT. With DirectAccess users only need an Internet connection to have access to everything on the corporate network, so they will never have to stop what they’re doing and log on to a VPN. This will reduce the use of corporate bandwidth as remote users will mostly be using their own local broadband. At the same time, DirectAccess will help IT better manage remote laptops. As long as a machine is on and connected to the Internet, IT will be able to manage it.

2.    Keep your branch offices connected

Windows 7 offers an alternative to alleviate the problems of slow connectivity, delivering increased network responsiveness of applications and giving users in remote offices an experience more like working in the head office. Once BranchCache is enabled, a copy of data accessed from an intranet website or a file server is cached locally within a branch office.  When another user on the same network requests the file, the user gets access to the content almost immediately as it is downloaded from the local cache rather than over a limited bandwidth connection back to headquarters. Basically, BranchCache will speed the accessing of large remote files stored on the corporate network.

3.    Protect and secure your data

The BitLocker hard-drive encryption feature was first introduced in Windows Vista to protect data on lost or stolen laptops. In Windows 7, the feature has been extended to protect storage devices such as external hard drives and USB sticks. Called “BitLocker To Go”, the feature allows external storage devices to be restricted with a pass phrase set by IT before users have permission to copy data to them. This will give enterprises the same confidence in USB external drives that they have in multi-volume drive encryption, becoming a necessity if we keep in mind the growing amount of USB devices.

4.    Simplify internal processes and access

The Federated Search feature available in Windows 7 helps users find information in remote repositories, including SharePoint sites, with an improved and seamless search experience across local and networked corporate data directly within Windows Explorer and the Start menu. These links simplify access to the target internal data sources on the network for business users. Windows 7 creates several default libraries for items such as documents and pictures, allowing you to organize and browse files in an optimal way. You can also create custom libraries. With Federated Search, users can select which sites they want to search from, or IT can populate a list for the user. Federated search results are presented in Windows explorer much like local files, with rich views, file details, and previews.

5.    Protect users from running unauthorized software

The AppLocker feature is in the security and control camp of Windows 7, being a flexible, easy-to-use mechanism that enables IT professionals to specify exactly what is allowed to run on user desktops. It restricts unauthorized software while allowing applications, installation programs, and scripts that users need. For safety reasons, Microsoft recommends that enterprises run in standard user, meaning there are no administrative rights to users at all. But if the IT department does give administrative rights to users, AppLocker can safeguard against running suspicious types of software, allowing IT to specify which applications can run on employees’ desktops, while blocking potentially harmful software.

Given that Windows 7 is the first operating system that companies are aggressively pushing to existing PCs as well as new PCs, we are sure you have insight on its benefits for companies, regardless of their size, so please share them with us. What’s your input on Windows 7’s benefits for the enterprise?