Windows 10 + Three Other Strategies For Your 2017 Budget (Part 1 of 2)

August 2016: Did you migrate your business to Windows 10 while it was still officially free? If not, it’s time to put it in your budget — there’s a lot more to migrating than just updating machines. You need a strategic plan to get it done right!

For great IT in 2017 and beyond, make sure to include strategies in your budget for these four areas: operating system, applications and servers, cybersecurity & network. We’ll cover the first two this month. Here’s what you need to know:

These four individual strategies are important because they identify the IT framework that’s needed to achieve each of your stakeholder’s goals. While facing fewer surprises as the year progresses! If your current strategy is to copy last year’s budget into next year’s IT budget, start here instead.

1. Operating system strategy (i.e., Windows 10 strategy)

Every operating system (OS) has a lifecycle, so while you may be sad to see Windows 7 go, it’s going anyway. So planning well is your best choice. Since your IT budget probably includes refreshing about a third of your company’s computers in 2017 and since new machines are now shipping with Windows 10, you face a choice — start migrating now or downgrade your new machines to Windows 7 (or Windows 8.1). Leapfrog does not recommend downgrading unless you have a good reason to. Microsoft stopped providing mainstream support for Windows 7 in January and extended support ends in January 2020.

In addition to the support and improved performance benefits you get with Windows 10, you also get some significant security enhancements. Windows 10 (and Windows 8 and 8.1) include full disk encryption. If a computer with an encrypted disk is stolen or lost, the data inside cannot be accessed. Now that the official free period is over, Windows 10 Pro costs $199 per machine. Disk encryption software for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 runs about the same. Windows 10 also includes Windows Hello biometric authentication, which includes facial, iris and fingerprint recognition. — Biometrics authentication is a lot more secure than passwords! It’s more efficient, too.

If you’re still on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, do a pilot now. This means your IT department or IT partner tests all of the apps your company uses to see how they work on Windows 10. Some apps have been slow to release a Windows 10 upgrade and some apps won’t be upgraded at all. If you have apps that will need to be replaced, you’ll need to budget for them. And if all of your apps work, you can plan for a partial rollout and train your team on Windows 10 as you buy the new computers. It should take about a week for your IT team to complete the pilot.

If you’ve already migrated to Windows 10, congratulations—you’re ahead of most! Your OS is fully supported until October 2020 and extended support continues through 2025, so this can be your standard for quite some time.

2. Application and Server strategy

The cousin of your OS strategy is your business app strategy. Conduct a review of your business apps by asking each of your division stakeholders if the current set of apps still meets their businesse’s needs. How integral is each app to the business? Are any apps coming up short? Are you beholden to them or are there viable options to evaluate? Most companies only use about five key business apps outside of Microsoft Office — accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are the most common.

Once you’ve figured out which apps you want to use, you need to determine the best place to run them. This is your server strategy. If you have physical servers, is it time to refresh them? Are the apps you want to use in 2017 public cloud-ready? Instead of making the investment in new servers, should you leverage the cloud? Traditional client-server apps need to run on either a server or a private cloud — could it be time for a private cloud?

Your server strategy should follow a review of each server and what it’s doing. Is this still the best plan for your company? For example, if you have a server running Microsoft Exchange, take a look at an Office 365 ROI calculator to see if converting your email to an operating expense instead of a capital expense might make more sense for your company. Security, compliance, maintenance and other server-related issues will factor into your server strategy as well.

Leapfrog likes to be at the table when our clients plan for next year — and they like to have us there! With IT budgeting strategies based on business objectives, you’ll have the roadmap you need to leverage your IT as best as possible. If you have questions about planning for 2017 or migrating to Windows 10, we’re here to help. And remember to come back to FrogTalk next month when we discuss the other two key IT budget strategies — cybersecurity and your network.

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