As an IT outsourcing specialist, CompuCom needs to provide the highest quality service and stay current on the latest technologies. CompuCom embarked on a companywide upgrade from the Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems to Windows 7 Enterprise, however it could not migrate hundreds of employees who used applications that required Windows XP and the Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 browser. By using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, CompuCom was able to proceed with its rollout, transitioning workers who otherwise would have stayed on the older operating system. It gained the flexibility to upgrade applications for Windows 7 when it makes most sense for the business, and it eased management by accelerating the move to a single operating environment and by using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to streamline deployment.Situation
Founded in 1987, CompuCom is an IT outsourcing specialist. The company incorporates international standards, real world experience, and information technology infrastructure library best practices into its service desk, managed desktop, managed security, data center, remote infrastructure management, and hosted virtual desktop services. It is dedicated to helping organizations spend less, align more, and innovate better.
||Our goal is to advance our infrastructure maturity to maximize the value of IT to our business. Now that we’re using MED-V, we can move forward with one operating system companywide.
VP Information Services, CompuCom
Nine IT professionals in the CompuCom Information Services group provide desktop management support for approximately 10,500 associates who use roughly 8,000 computers. Many associates rely on applications that require the Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3 operating systems and the Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 browser. As the IT team learned in 2009, moving these users to new operating systems could be quite challenging.
“CompuCom was proceeding with an enterprisewide upgrade project to Windows Vista. We did preliminary application compatibility testing to determine if key applications would work in Windows Vista and transitioned about 700 associates whose applications could function. Then we started running into issues,” says Debra-Lee Normand, Technical Support Analyst at CompuCom.
The IT team found that a number of critical applications, including some used by service-desk associates, did not work properly. While the company was struggling to determine how to run those applications on Windows Vista, Microsoft released Windows 7 Enterprise—so CompuCom switched its upgrade project to the newer operating system.
“We were eager to take advantage of the great user interface and support tools in Windows 7, as well as security enhancements such as BitLocker drive encryption, the improved User Account Control feature, and advanced firewall technology,” says April Cook, System Integration Specialist at CompuCom.
CompuCom kicked off the rollout project for Windows 7 in December 2009. It ran Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 reports to identify which computers could run Windows 7 without requiring new hardware. The IT staff then reviewed applications by groups of users and, if their software could run on Windows 7, deployed the operating system to that team.
“We started by deploying Windows 7 to users we knew would have no application compatibility issues. At the same time, we began looking into a solution for running the older applications,” says Normand. For instance, CompuCom needed to find a way to run Computer Telephony Integration Object Server (CTIOS) Version 7.0 SR1 from Cisco, used to route, manage, and log call-center phone calls. The application did not work properly in Windows 7. Additionally, some service-desk managers accessed the application’s data via webpages that required Internet Explorer 6. Because Windows 7 includes Windows Internet Explorer 8 and only one version of Internet Explorer can run natively, web applications based on Internet Explorer 6 could not run on Windows 7.
CompuCom considered using the Windows XP Mode feature in Windows 7, which would enable associates to run Windows XP applications on computers that have Windows 7 installed, but the company realized that a deployment of Windows XP Mode would be inefficient and costly.
“There is no centralized way to deploy or manage Windows XP Mode, and after we realized that hundreds of associates—if not more—would need Windows XP, it became clear that Windows XP Mode would not work for us. It would require much more time and resources than we had,” says Normand.
If CompuCom could not find a solution that met its needs, it would have had to halt the upgrade to all associates and redirect efforts to an aggressive application remediation initiative. “We would have queued applications for remediation based on availability of resources. This would have included rewriting internally developed programs for Windows 7, purchasing upgrades for vendor applications—or waiting until they became available, or even providing two computers to associates who needed Windows 7 to meet client contract requirements and Windows XP to run older applications. It would have been very time-consuming and costly to manage and implement,” says Cook.
CompuCom needed an efficient solution for deploying older applications on computers running Windows 7.Solution
In January 2010, the IT team at CompuCom heard about Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), which enables running older applications in a virtual Windows XP environment on computers running Windows 7. MED-V is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, a suite of technologies available as a subscription for Software Assurance customers.
||The latest MED-V addressed all our needs. Instead of requiring a separate server, it worked with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager so we could use our existing distribution points.
System Integration Specialist, CompuCom
“Unlike Windows XP Mode, MED-V is easy to deploy and manage. It was the kind of enterprise solution we had been looking for,” says Normand.
CompuCom successfully tested MED-V with CTIOS. “We were able to get CTIOS running with full functionality, including the Internet Explorer-6 based web pages and web applications,” says Cook. Initially, CompuCom deployed MED-V 1.0 to approximately 30 associates.
“While MED-V worked great, there was additional overhead because we had to set up and maintain a separate server. Making changes to images that were in production could also be cumbersome. And, because we knew we were going to have to create large images moving forward, we would have liked to have data closer to remote users,” says Cook.
In June 2010, CompuCom learned that the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for the soon-to-be-released newer MED-V was starting. “The latest MED-V addressed all our needs. Instead of requiring a separate server, it worked with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager so we could use our existing distribution points,” says Cook.
Normand says, “Adding new URLs is easy with MED-V. We just deploy registry changes through System Center Configuration Manager.”
CompuCom joined the TAP, and after creating a stable MED-V image, it deployed the product to 80 associates for use with CTIOS. The company is providing MED-V to additional associates based on their need to run older applications on Windows 7. For instance, the IT team is currently testing MED-V for a group of about 300 workers located in Minnesota. “They use a lot of proprietary applications that require Windows XP, so they haven’t been able to move to Windows 7. So far the test is going great and we expect to deploy the latest MED-V to all the associates and upgrade them to Windows 7,” says Normand.
As of February 2011, CompuCom has deployed Windows 7 Enterprise on more than 2,000 Lenovo, IBM, HP, and Dell computers using System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, and plans to install the operating system on another 1,000 computers by March 2011. The company is in the process of upgrading the hardware on its remaining computers and, once complete, it will deploy Windows 7 on those systems. Benefits
CompuCom is using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization to speed its transition to Windows 7 Enterprise. With MED-V, the company is upgrading applications to the newer operating system on its own timetable with simplified management tasks.
“Our goal is to advance our infrastructure maturity to maximize the value of IT to our business. Now that we’re using MED-V, we can move forward with one operating system companywide,” says Romolo Pallini, VP Information Services at CompuCom. Accelerated Upgrade to Windows 7
By using MED-V, CompuCom overcame barriers and proceeded with an enterprisewide rollout of Windows 7. “We’re able to transition people to Windows 7 who otherwise would have had to remain on Windows XP,” says Normand.
||With MED-V in our toolkit, we know we'll be able to run their Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 applications on Windows 7. We no longer have to delay those groups' migrations."
Technical Support Analyst, CompuCom
CompuCom no longer has to worry if large groups of associates require older applications. “With MED-V in our toolkit, we know we’ll be able to run their Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 applications on Windows 7. We no longer have to delay those groups’ migrations,” says Normand.
Being able to upgrade virtually any associate to Windows 7 is important for several reasons. “Now we can meet our milestones for Windows 7 installations without difficulty. And we can fulfill client contracts that require us to use Windows 7 without having to expend more resources,” says Normand. “Many CompuCom associates work onsite at client locations and, increasingly, clients are requiring that our associates have BitLocker on their laptop computers to protect their organization’s data. If we couldn’t move those employees to Windows 7 due to application compatibility issues, we would not be able to meet the needs of our clients. The availability of MED-V smoothed the way to proceed with a migration to Windows 7 while keeping the applications needed to service that client on a BitLocker-enabled device.” Enabled Flexible Application Upgrade Process
CompuCom can move associates to Windows 7 without rushing to upgrade older applications. “We don’t have the urgency to rewrite internal applications or purchase upgraded vendor applications. We can do that on a schedule that works for our business,” says Cook.
A good case in point is CTIOS. CompuCom used MED-V to upgrade associate devices to Windows 7 while enabling them to run the older CTIOS version. Then in January 2011, after Cisco released a version compatible with Windows 7, CompuCom installed the upgraded application. “By using MED-V, we bridged the gap until we were ready to make the upgraded application available,” says Cook.Simplified Ongoing Management
Using MED-V is helping CompuCom standardize on one operating system. “With MED-V, we’re moving faster to a single operating environment. MED-V is definitely helping us get where we want to be—simplifying complexity and reducing associated costs,” says Normand.
The IT team does not have to expend additional effort when Windows XP runs in MED-V on Windows 7 computers. “Everything is transparent. It appears to associates like they’re only running Windows 7 so we don’t have to spend time helping them with Windows XP issues or dealing with confusions that could result from switching between operating systems,” says Cook.
Management tasks are also easier. “By using our existing System Center Configuration Manager infrastructure to deploy and manage MED-V and Windows 7 images, we’re making the whole upgrade and support process a lot simpler,” concludes Cook.
Microsoft Desktop Optimization
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance makes it easy for an organization to administer its applications, offering tools for virtualizing and inventorying software installations, for managing Group Policy settings, and for system repair and data recovery.
For more information about MDOP, go to: For More Information
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