Windows 10 as a Service: unleashing new opportunities for enterprise employees
The Windows environment is at the core of almost every organisation’s desktop computing strategy. Over time, the operating system has been augmented with various communication, collaboration and productivity tools, drawing on the latest technologies and supporting organisations’ digitisation strategies.
The introduction of Windows 10 as a Service represents a massive leap in the evolution of the desktop environment. In fact, Microsoft has reimagined every part in the process to provide IT administrators with far simpler ways of deploying and servicing end-users.
For the organisation as a whole, the way that Windows 10 interacts with Azure Cloud services and Office 365 software unlocks a host of new opportunities – to enhance operational processes, digitise business models, and deliver new products and services to customers.
For many firms needing to change the way they do things in an era of wild disruption, Windows 10 could be the catalyst for an entire reinvention of the company.
Constant flow of enhancements
Windows 10 as a Service represents a clear shift away from ‘big bang’ operating system upgrades (where employees would be upgraded every few years), towards a state where everyone instantly receives a constant flow of iterative updates to the platform.
These are incremental, sometimes hardly noticeable, but it allows Microsoft to continually fine-tune the operating system and gradually ‘bleed-in’ emerging new technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) services, machine learning or connected devices.
The ‘as-a-Service’ delivery model also aids the inter-relationships between Microsoft’s suite of enterprise services, connecting Office 365 tools (Outlook, Word, Excel and the like) more closely with Skype for Business, SharePoint, Internet Explorer and other Microsoft tools.
We can even take this one step further, for companies that regularly engage with partners, suppliers, distributors or others in the ecosystem. If a partner company is running the same Cloud-based Microsoft tools, it becomes easier to establish fluid (even automated) interactions between the two companies.
As we move from simple, linear value-chains, towards complex digital ecosystems, it’s critical to be able to fluidly engage – but in a highly-secure manner – with one’s partners.
Windows 10 and Azure systems reduce headaches around manual integrations, or needing to overcome firewalls, or other challenges in connecting different environments. As machine-to-machine communication gathers steam, fluid integration becomes ever more important.
Improved security, compliance, mobility and cost-efficiency
As the cyber-security threat landscape becomes ever more concerning, the advantage of Windows 10 as a Service is that the latest security enhancements are automatically delivered to end-users, giving administrators the peace of mind that employees are protected from emerging risks.
Microsoft’s advanced security controls and proactive threat management systems – Windows Defender – will quickly respond to any threats, nulling their impact before any damage is done.
From a compliance perspective, the timing of Windows 10’s launch to the enterprise market is perfect, as new data protection laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act are brought into law.
Microsoft has already ensured GDPR compliance for Windows 10, so organisations can be assured that they are in-line with the law. With many legal experts saying that the GDPR compliance should mean automatic POPI compliance, businesses are also covered in terms of new local legislation.
From a cost perspective migrating to Windows 10 generally allows organisations to achieve significant cost benefits. Previously, different aspects such as end-user client access, operating system licenses and Office were separated – but with all these licenses consolidated into one, the costs are reduced.
Windows 10 as a Service also furthers one’s enterprise mobility strategy, for example, with Microsoft's Intune service, employees can seamlessly switch between different desktop and mobile devices, continuing conversation threads, and accessing all the same data and applications, wherever they may be.
Windows 10 as a Service offers a vast array of benefits to users. With the right ICT partner, enterprises can achieve great value from the bundled offering and help their employees understand all of the new enhancements. With lower licensing costs and less administration required from the CIO’s team, technology budgets and resources can be funnelled towards higher-value innovation programmes – giving the organisation the best chance of success.
Abrie Joubert is a DSM Expert: End User Services at T-Systems South Africa
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”