With the end of Windows 7 support looming large on the horizon, new data from endpoint management and security company 1E shows that many companies remain significantly behind in completing their Windows 10 migration. With just over 68% of endpoints converted, the lagging process raises serious questions about the risks organisations are willing to take with their cyber security posture.
According to the 1E report, entitled ‘Windows 10 2020: Beyond the Migration’, 82% of organisations say security is a motivating factor in completing the migration, yet more than half (56%) acknowledge it’s just not happening quickly enough. The retail, distribution and transport industries are the furthest behind with just 65% of devices migrated. Financial services, the public sector, construction and property plus the media, leisure and entertainment sectors are only slightly ahead at 66%.
Even among those who are fully migrated, maintaining Windows 10 – with its massive bi-annual updates – could prove problematic without the right tools.
“If you’re already struggling with Windows 10 migration, you will continue to struggle even more with the updates and it all comes down to the same problem: a lack of endpoint reach and control,” said Sumir Karayi, CEO at 1E. “It’s clear organisations still have a long way to go and not much time left to reach their goal. Investing in an automated endpoint management solution now can give them a massive jump start on migration and set them up for much fewer headaches when the first updates roll out.”
Endpoints on the network
IT and security professionals say they have control over just 58% of endpoints on the network on average, while only two-thirds of their software estate is current with patches and operating system, driver, application and security updates.
“I’d be willing to bet that even 58% visibility and control is overstated,” said Jason Sandys, Microsoft enterprise mobility senior consultant at the Coretech Alliance. “With remote workers, local admin rights and departmental or location-based autonomy, it’s nearly impossible for IT to keep up with all the assets without an automated solution. You cannot protect what you cannot see. Organisations must invest in gaining clearer visibility of the IT estate in order to manage the onslaught of Windows 10 updates, even once they’re migrated.”
In fact, lack of automation and remote work seem to be the biggest obstacles for many in maintaining current systems. Nearly 80% of respondents to 1E’s questions say software migration automation is the foremost cyber security investment their organisations must make in the next year. Over 75% agree remote work will remain a security concern until their organisation can find a way to reach, patch and secure those devices.
Automating the process
TJ Lewis, senior manager for end user services and support at Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA), knows this challenge all too well. “Just recently, 4,200 of our machines were still Windows 7, putting us well below the industry average. Getting those endpoints migrated was the first challenge, but we knew the regular and demanding update cadence of Windows 10 was even more foreboding. We were obviously not alone. There’s clearly a huge call for Windows migration automation. Now that we have the right tools in place, we welcome the prospect of Windows 10 servicing rather than worrying about it. We know we can handle it.”
Without the right tools, most companies find it’s the ‘last mile’ of machines that prove to be the most difficult and time-consuming to manage. At SCA, which has 200 centres nationwide, imaging a computer from Windows 7 to 10 would have required shipping it to the Alabama site, where it would be manually wiped and reloaded with user content then shipped back out. A process that inevitably resulted in days of downtime for that machine’s user.
“With automation, this long process now takes just a few hours and the finish line for our Windows 7 to 10 migration is well in sight,” Lewis added. “The key takeaway is that, even if you can do the migration manually, you’re then faced with a fresh problem: the Windows 10 update cadence. Without an automated solution, it’s like completing an OS migration twice a year. No-one wants to do that manually.”