Are you using Evergreen IT the right way?
Long gone are the days when you migrated your entire user base to a new version of Windows as a huge, high-risk, big-bang project every few years. For most organizations, OS updates happen every 12-24 months and only take about 6 months to complete.
Today, we will explore why Evergreen IT Management is important for your organizations and look at typical enterprise use cases for this new continuous IT management approach.
Why Evergreen IT Management Is Important For Your Organization
The modern reality of frequent updates also holds true for Office 365, but because of its shorter support windows, the cadence is 6-12 months for most large enterprises. Some business applications, like Bloomberg, require monthly updates and this trend will continue as app providers complete the move to an agile approach, putting pressure on their customers to do the same.
In addition to a shorter release cycle, more and more companies have a wider variety of desktop apps that litter the landscape and must be kept in contract compliance. To this point, most of the effort in keeping the desktop software current and compliant is largely manual.
This is not only time-consuming and expensive, but it also lends itself to mistakes like any other manual effort. By automating the process of discovery, packaging, testing, and deployment of software updates, the quality goes up and the cost goes down. Given the increased frequency of releases, patches, and new apps required as the business changes, the manual effort for IT organizations becomes unmanageable.
There are also practical business considerations driving the adoption of Evergreen IT. Sixty-eight (68) percent of business leaders feel that their cybersecurity risks are increasing. One of the best ways to combat this concern and mitigate these risks is to keep your environment always up-to-date and in compliance. In essence, the better the hygiene is, the safer the desktop estate will be. While IT spending continues to increase overall, IT teams must stretch their budgets further than they ever have. It is essential to rationalize your IT environment to minimize licensing and maintenance costs.
What Does Typical Evergreen IT Management Look Like?
For some organizations, implementing Evergreen IT simply means updating Windows 10 on a regular basis. For others, it means that their entire estate — including servers, infrastructure, OS, and applications — is improved continuously. Some of the common elements include:
- Windows 10 Servicing. Microsoft now releases two Windows 10 versions every year. Most enterprises plan on one update per year and they often take a chance by skipping one year.
- Office 365 Management. Office 365 also receives two major upgrades per year in addition to the monthly minor updates. However, some users on the Semi-Annual plan only receive 6 months of support while others effectively receive 14 months of support. In either case, this requires highly structured and automated processes to keep up.
- Server & Infrastructure Updates. Certain Microsoft Servers and infrastructure follow the same support model with two releases per year and 18 months of support.
- Application Management. Many applications now have much faster release cycles ranging from monthly to twice a year or even as needed. To prevent apps from breaking due to application compatibility issues and to avoid having to manage multiple versions of the same application, IT must find a way to upgrade these as efficiently and risk-free as possible. This requires fast and reliable re-certification as well as automated app packaging and testing.
- Hardware Refresh. Evergreen IT is also extremely useful for managing hardware refresh cycles. Rather than waiting for hardware to break or slow down, it gets replaced on a regular basis based on its lifecycle. This can happen using a Device-as-a-Service contract or by managing it internally.
These are the most common cases we see, but they make the point that the desktop environment or estate is now in a constant state of flux. Continuing to try to support this new cycle with more and more people leads to high costs and a high rate of errors, which is not sustainable.
Because Evergreen IT projects run simultaneously and have enormous synergies and efficiency gains, this will also most likely facilitate an organizational change as the teams will become smaller and more interconnected. For this reason, embracing Evergreen IT is more of a transformation for IT organizations and not just an implementation of new automated tools.
This blog is part of the 3-part Evergreen IT Management 101 blog series.