Talk about migration tends to center on operating systems and new hardware. That's especially true in the wake of a huge industry event such as CES 2013.
An unintended consequence of a fascination with the new and shiny is that many functions and operations -- functions and operations that might be directly affected by the move to a new platform -- are left to fend for themselves. When the victim of this benign neglect is a critical function, such as backup or disaster recovery, the impact on the organization can be severe.
Now, if all you're doing is jacking up your current hardware and driving a new operating system under the body, then certain pieces of this discussion won't apply to you. For most organizations, though, moving existing client hardware to Windows 8 is the last thing they want to do.
Migration triggers radical rethink of device mix
Instead, most of the executives we've talked to are planning to use a migration to Windows 8 as an opportunity to radically rethink the mix of client hardware in the organization. A Windows 8 migration is also being looked at as a way to speed the move away from office-centric systems to a mobile-optimized structure. Here's where your migration choices can have real repercussions in how data is backed up, and how the fleet of client devices is used in a disaster recovery scenario.
Some of these factors are not unique to a Windows migration and would, in fact, accompany any move toward a mobilized workforce. For example, the importance of a data inventory on tiny devices is not bound by any single operating system. Configuring MDM systems in order to back up sensitive data (and encrypt or erase that same data to minimize risk in the event of loss or theft) is something that every enterprise should be doing. This is true even if you're running desktops on Windows Vista, and your mobile devices use an OS that's one small step removed from tin cans and kite string.
Windows 8, though, allows you to tie these remote devices much more tightly into the Active Directory structure of your enterprise network than was previously possible. This ability brings with it all the possible good, and bad, consequences of such close integration.
One of the things that must be considered, lest it fall into the "bad" category, is what happens with your mobile devices should your domain controller go down and stay down for any length of time. Now, any network admin worth the title will have secondary controllers established with automatic failover. But, will these be accessible from outside the firewall? If they're not, what parts of the Windows 8 Mobile devices will be usable? It's something that must be considered during migration.
The flip side, of course, is that in a localized disaster the mobile devices can remain usable when the datacenter is down or inaccessible. Mobility is increasingly a component of disaster recovery plans; for some organizations it is the disaster recovery plan. Windows 8 Mobile's superior integration with Microsoft back-end management tools makes it more likely, in the event of a disaster, that your workforce can function as an organized team rather than as a loosely configured herd. The herd will win out, though, if the IT department doesn't build disaster recovery plans into the migration rollout, along with new software and middleware patches.
Migrating isn't easy in any instance. A recent episode of E2 Radio featured a guest who pointed out that enterprise migration can involve more than 15,000 applications. Adding new backup/recovery and business continuity plans to that can make you feel as if you're the player at the bottom of a pile-on in an American football game.
Nevertheless, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Mobile have features that can make the overall IT infrastructure more robust, so long as you plan ahead for functions that reach beyond the basics of migration.