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It’s Time to Get Started on Windows 7 End of Life Migrations

To fully capitalize on the upcoming Windows EOL events, MSPs must do these six things.

5 Min Read
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This coming January, Microsoft will discontinue all support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, including any type of security patches. With five years’ notice, you’d think that most companies would have abandoned Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 with plenty of time to spare. Yet, only a few months away from those operating systems being completely unsupported, there are still millions of people using them.

As of June 2019, 36% of active-use PCs are running Windows 7, which means there are a lot of desktop and laptop users well overdue for an upgrade. On the server side of things, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 is believed to still represent 40% of the total server OS market, and more than half of enterprise applications are still running on those soon-to-be-outdated platforms.

For clients still running applications on Windows 2008 servers, MSPs have an opportunity to help them select one of three potential paths forward: getting current on the Windows Server platform, migrating their applications to the cloud or constructing a hybrid solution.

Customers preferring to remain with Windows Server have a trickier upgrade track than they might realize, as there isn’t a way to upgrade directly to the latest Windows server (Windows Server 2019). Instead, each server must go through three distinct processes: Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2016, and then Windows Server 2016 to Windows 2019.

This is the kind of task customers will be desperate to outsource to MSPs, both because of the amount of work involved and to ensure everything goes smoothly. A single upgrade can have issues, but three consecutive ones can be a minefield for anyone but the experts.

How MSPs Can Position Themselves for the Next Great Windows Migration

To fully capitalize on the upcoming Windows EOL events, MSPs must do six things:

  1. Educate customers.

Despite all the red flags and warnings that have been issued by Microsoft for years, if organizations haven’t upgraded or migrated yet, they’re probably still unaware of the full implications of discontinued support. MSPs should engage in a full-court press to get through to their laggard clients and impress upon them the urgency of addressing this situation in the next few months (and what the consequences might be from a further delay).

  1. Push the cloud.

Although some customers will prefer to keep their servers on dedicated hardware running Windows Server, it’s a prime opportunity to shift some clients to cloud-based or hybrid solutions for some or all of their applications. Not only will they be free from worrying about another server upgrade down the line, but they may also see significant cost savings and performance improvements. Both Azure and AWS are offering tools and incentives to shift these customers to cloud computing, and it might be the right time to pitch Office365 for all those upgraded (or replaced) Windows 7 PCs.

  1. Train staff.

Between now and January (and realistically much of early 2020), upgrading and migrating Windows 7 PCs and Windows Server 2008 systems will likely demand a huge chunk of time from lots of workers. Getting as many employees up to speed on how to perform these upgrades and support customers throughout the process will come in handy when the workload surges.

  1. Look to the future.

Although upgrades of decade-old systems will be a time-consuming endeavor, it’s also a unique opportunity to make things easier and more secure in the future by setting up all the upgraded and migrated PCs and servers with endpoint management solutions. Going forward, all these systems can get updates and patches thanks to policy-based automation tools, protecting them from security vulnerabilities while optimizing their performance.

  1. Beware of the competition.

Times of great change present ripe opportunities for current accounts to be wooed and poached by enterprising competitors. MSPs shouldn’t assume that their customer base will stay put during this transitional period.

Instead, MSPs should be as proactive as possible and leverage their longstanding relationships as a trusted partner. Assuring customers that their best interests lie in sticking with their current MSP during a time of turmoil is critical to avoiding any defections.

At the same time, MSPs can view this upgrade deadline as a prime opportunity to close new business. Prospects that might not have been keen on outsourcing their IT services could view this massive challenge as the right time to “throw in the towel” and partner with an MSP who can guide them through this transition and provide ongoing services in the wake of these changes.

  1. Avoid unnecessary risks and get out ahead of things.

MSPs allowing even a single one of their clients’ devices or servers to run on these outdated operating systems after January 2020 could put their whole business in peril. Without regular security patches and updates from Microsoft, it is only a matter of time before those servers and PCs are compromised.

Hackers and criminals are licking their chops at the thought of millions of vulnerable endpoints ready to be exploited once Microsoft stops supporting them. Although MSPs might have warned their customers about the dangers of delaying these upgrades, they’re certain to take some of the heat and bad press when data is stolen or held for ransom thanks to these vulnerable weak points.

The good news is Kaseya is here to help you prepare for this event. We don’t want any MSPs to put their business at risk.  Contact us and learn how we can help you weather this upcoming storm and emerge with a safer and healthier ecosystem..

Joining Kaseya in 2012, Miguel Lopez brings over 20 years of experience to his role as SVP, Managed Service Providers (MSPs). In this position, he consults daily with MSPs to help them solve their clients’ business problems with technology solutions. Prior to joining Kaseya, Miguel served as the director of consulting services for All Covered, a nationwide technology services company that is a division of Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Inc. In 2008, All Covered acquired NetCor Technologies, a leading MSP that Miguel founded and managed since 1997. NetCor specialized in serving highly regulated industries such as healthcare, CPAs, law firms and retail companies.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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