What are your options when your existing PCs aren’t compatible with Windows 7?

Want to save time and money on your Windows 7 deployment? Virtualize!

 If you’re a stalwart IT decision maker who stuck by Windows XP for the last decade, you’re finally coming face to face with the reality of a Windows 7 world. And you’re probably asking yourself: so how do I make the move?

For many organizations, the number one problem will be one of hardware. Until now, all you had to do was run a 10-year-old operating system, so power and performance weren’t much a concern. But Windows 7 is a powerful operating system whose requirements don’t align too well with all those old PCs sitting under your employees’ desks. And upgrading 200 or 1,000 or 5,000 PCs along with rolling out a new operating system is a hefty chunk of change that many if not most organizations simply don’t have right now.

 So again, how do you make the move?

 As with the challenges in storage and servers, the smart and money-saving answer for switching your OS may be in virtualization.

In fact, by virtualizing the Windows 7 operating system, you can extend the life of those antique PCs. How? By running the new OS on server hardware inside of a data center, instead of on the PCs themselves, and by using a display protocol to gain access to keystrokes and screen shots on the PC, power and performance issues are mitigated and you can put off buying a lot of that new hardware for another day.

 But virtualization is the answer for other reasons as well. The traditional way to deploy systems and applications takes huge resources, both in terms of time and manpower. But with everything centralized in a data center, IT can upgrade OS, update applications, upgrade user profiles once and send it out to all users. Virtualization means a huge amount of time and money and operational expenses are reduced too.

 You might be asking, how can you afford to set up a data center – the servers, storage, networking and applications that allow you to virtualize the operating system – if you’re already worried about updating hardware in the first place. The truth is, in that first year, it may be a wash. You may end up spending the same amount to set up your data center as you would have on new PCs. The real cost benefit, however, will come after Year 1.

That’s because after Year 1, with everything centralized, capital expenditures will be significantly reduced, not to mention you’ll experience serious reductions in operational expenses as you IT staff no longer has to go to every desk in the organization to manage and update PCs one at a time.

And if you’re thinking virtualization is only for the big boys, small and medium sized businesses are actually some of the earliest adopters of this technology. Why? Smaller businesses in particular usually have less money to begin with so they’re always looking for efficiencies. And because virtualization technology is scalable, there are truly no barriers to making it happen.

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About Jonathan White

Jonathan is a solutions architect within the Enterprise Architect Group at Softchoice. His main focus is to help customers define and design virtualization solutions.