Dell is ramping up its services designed to help customers migrate their systems off of Windows XP as the deadline for Microsoft ending support for the creaky 12-year-old operating system gets closer.
Company officials announced Oct. 7 that Dell Services is rolling out its Windows Migration Fast Forward Service, a collection of modules for small and midsize businesses designed to address everything from image engineering and application compatibility testing to deployment planning and process automation for up to 5,000 PCs.
According to Dell officials, about 21 percent of corporate PCs are still running XP, which Microsoft will stop supporting in April 2014. Businesses need to start moving on the process of migrating to Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, according to Jefferson Raley, consulting offer development manager for Dell.
"We're just over six months before the deadline, so time is getting tight," Raley told eWEEK. "There's a sense of urgency now for companies to accelerate the process."
Raley said that the services are aimed at more than just migrating the operating systems, but also at helping businesses assess their PC environments regarding everything from application identification and desktop virtualization to mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD).
"We want to make sure their situation is better after the migration than it is today," he said.
Raley said he expects the bulk of migrations to be made to Windows 7, though in more mobile and BYOD environments, Windows 8.1 "just makes a ton of sense."
The prepackaged modules are designed to address every stage in the migration process, from planning and coordination the migration to conducting the migration itself, according to Dell. This includes engineering the images, inventorying and compatibility testing applications, packaging applications, automating the processes and planning the deployment. Customers are able to choose whatever package of modules best suits their needs.
Being able to track the various jobs associated with such an undertaking as migrating from one OS to another—from collecting the data to assigning tasks to lining up the workloads correctly—is important. Dell's services make it easier to do that, Raley said.
"Oftentimes, you do that one Excel, and it doesn't scale very well," he said.
Many tech vendors are offering Windows XP migration services, aimed at helping businesses avoid the security and performance issues they could face after April 2014 by running an unsupported operating system. However, a key differentiator for Dell is that the company is running three facilities for the service around the world, including in the United States.
For some companies, keeping certain applications within the confines of the United States is critical, Raley said. Having a facility inside the country that can do that is important, he added. It also means that Dell can handle the demand.
"It gives us a lot of flexibility there," Raley said. "It gives us scalability."
Dell also is rolling out a range of devices that run both Windows 7 and 8, from its Latitude 7000 Ultrabooks, Latitude 5000 and 3000 laptops, and the Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1-based tablets.
The new devices give customers the options of either migrating from XP to the other operating systems on their current devices or taking advantage of the move to upgrade their current PC and tablet environments, Dell officials said.