Tomorrow, your operating system and various applications are one day older – and one day closer to needing an update or patch. In a world where technology never stands still, here’s how to stay ahead of the inevitable decay.
Nothing lasts forever, not even software. Or, at least not support for that software.
Remember what happened when Windows 10 was released as a free upgrade? For many organizations, the answer was nothing. At least until Windows 7 was no longer supported by Microsoft or third-party software vendors.
This caused every medical office in the world to scurry and quickly update, since no more security patches meant being in violation of medical privacy laws. But they weren’t the only ones who dragged their feet.
Now with the transition to Windows 11, we're looking at another cycle of change. To make sure you're not caught up in a messy rush when W10 goes to software heaven, here are some tips for keeping all your business software up-to-date.
First, be in the know.
Microsoft lets users know in advance its End Of Life and End Of Support dates. You can find a short list here. Every software vendor will have a list like this. But Microsoft’s data set is the most important, since it’s typically what other software makers base their own End of Support dates on.
This information is your starting point for getting up-to-date before the deadline. If you're clever, you might even get things done well in advance.
Second, have a plan.
And good planning starts with setting your own transition dates a year in advance. Why a year? Doesn’t that sound like an awful long time?
Simple answer: Cost Planning.
An infrastructure update is never inexpensive. Not in cost of hours, not in cost of resources, and certainly not in raw dollars. The earlier your planning, the easier you can coordinate the various elements, and the less painful that bite will be.
What will you do if an update fails, or if something is offline longer than expected? That’s why you need to plan ahead.
Plan for the inevitable downtime.
Even if it's just user terminals, there is an organizational downtime cost to every update. You absolutely have to plan in advance to accommodate, minimize, or if you’re very lucky, avoid that downtime.
Every step and aspect of the transition has a cost to be considered, and often budgeted for – and that’s just if everything goes right. What you will do if an update fails, or if something is offline longer than expected? That’s why you need to plan ahead.
Businesses with critical functions, or those who can tolerate little down time, will require fall back solutions during the upgrade. Extensive testing is also a must prior to putting the upgraded infrastructure in a live production environment. If the new bits and pieces aren’t playing nice with each other, you kind of want to know that in advance.
Plan to stay ahead of the game.
As service providers who have been involved in other companies’ last-minute upgrades, trust us, you don’t want to be involved in last-minute upgrades.
Who knows why, but some organizations will wait until the last possible moment. Some even wait until it’s past the deadline before getting serious. Even with significant notification and warning on our part, it’s inevitable that someone delays until they can no longer delay.
Do not be this company. The impromptu nature of upgrading like this leads to significant additional cost through down time, unexpected labor, and upgrade failures. Things that could have been far less impactful with, you guessed it, some advance planning.
Software patches provided by the software vendors such as Microsoft are your front line of defense.
Plan to keep moving.
Planning for infrastructure upgrades doesn't just stop at the major ones. An irregular flow of software updates, upgrades, patches and replacement ensure the under-the-hood maintenance of your functional, efficient and safe network.
Software patches provided by the software vendors such as Microsoft are your front line of defense against both obsolescence, and the latest round of security vulnerabilities (curse you, hackers!).
In almost every case of a widespread hack, there’s a patch issued by the software vendor days or weeks prior to the hack. A company’s ops suddenly come to a painful halt one day, because no one there was current on tracking, and installing, that patch.
Bad things don’t have to happen to good people.
In addition to keeping your software patched, update the firmware on your hardware for this same reason. Naturally, it’s unlikely to keep track of everything without a comprehensive maintenance plan in place, either outsourced or provided by in-house IT.
Every business is different, and there are different software planning considerations for each. That’s why your plan needs to be clearly documented, including contingencies, in case you find out your sole IT guy moved to California over the weekend.
Anyway, those are our tips for keeping all your business software up-to-date. Wait – we haven’t even mentioned all the hardware that at some point will need to be upgraded or replaced. Well, we’ll save that for another post.
- Ongoing software updates are a fact of life. They just are.
- Not staying up-to-date can turn out really messy.
- You really want to plan further ahead than you’d think.
- Document your comprehensive update plan. Okay, good job!
Frustrated by business technology issues that keep hurting productivity?
With a Harmony Service Plan, we can keep your network maintained and updated, relieving you of all those technical details. We’re also here to troubleshoot an annoying glitch – or a sudden crisis.
Call Harmony Group Atlanta at 678-797-0747 or send a message to tell us your (technical) troubles. You may be surprised at all we can do to keep your organization running smoothly and safely.