By Reza Parsia, Senior Channel Director, Ivanti
Windows 10 presents an immediate and long-term opportunity for solution providers who are uniquely qualified to help organizations navigate the confusing path Microsoft has created for its latest OS migration. Even as Microsoft has said support for the beloved Windows 7 essentially ends January 2020, the popular OS still commands 49 percent market share compared to 26.8 percent for Windows 10.
Barriers to faster Windows 10 adoption are numerous: confusion over patching and updates; concerns about application compatibility, and the need for user training are some key ones. It’s perfect timing for MSPs to step in as consultants and technology enablers for the majority of organizations who are finding Windows 10 to be one big IT headache.
Solution providers can help with initial migration switchover from legacy OS, then continue on as providers to help deploy Microsoft’s schedule of patches and updates, and to resolve application and training issues. Becoming a partner with your customers in Windows 10 migration will also offer MSPs long-term business opportunities since Microsoft regularly updated Windows 10 through its semi-annual channel – the most recent 1703 release has just been recommended for broad deployment in businesses.
Here are seven significant channel opportunities for solutions and services to expand on Windows 10-related business:
Getting Ready for the Switchover:
1. Prevent Stealth IT Migrating along with Windows 10: The increase in user mobility can force some organizations’ hands in terms of Windows 10 adoption. The ‘stealth IT’ issue, whereby users utilize new devices pre-installed with Windows 10, often results in IT departments having to scramble to offer limited support for Windows 10. These devices might include PCs, laptops, smartphones or even wearable devices.
The best defense against cyber-crime is knowledge, namely, knowing exactly what is going on inside an organization’s network, what’s happening to data, which devices your customer’s staff is plugging in, and where data is moving inside the organization. Help your customers further contain these insider threats by conducting an inventory of all owned hardware and software, and identifying devices in use that have not been properly vetted for security risks.
2. Professional Services: User training has been cited by 43% of IT professionals in a recent study as a key barrier to Windows 10 adoption. This is the perfect opportunity for the channel to provide training courses to help customers maintain workflow and productivity during migration. There is an array of other professional services you can offer, including customer support, implementation design and scoping, and technical advisory support.
Supporting Customer Deployment:
3. New Hardware Sales Potential: As customers adopt Windows 10 they will need new systems to support it. Since you have already conducted an asset management inventory, you are in a great leverage position to offer your customers counsel on new investments to support OS, and then to monitor these purchases, track usage, and manage assets from purchase to disposal.
4. Third Party Patching OS and Applications: Patching is the fundamental way to reduce cyber risk, because it reduces the attack surface. Unless your customers can stay up to date on Windows 10 patching they will put their organization at heightened security risk. Solution providers can perform a valuable service by executing third-party patching, ensuring that customers are staying on track with ‘Patch Tuesday’ updates and other updates Microsoft publishes. The vulnerabilities never seem to stop. In just one month you can count at least 18 Windows 10 related security updates. Offloading this task to a reliable solution provider relieves IT staff burden. Needless to say, this can present a steady revenue stream.
Looking Ahead to More Services:
5. Service Management: In the face of security concerns, diverse devices populating the environment, and users demanding a productive, flexible experience, the service desk has become a touchpoint for a daunting number of issues. This presents an opportunity for solution and service providers to offer IT Service Management (ITSM) support on behalf of customers. Efficient, service desk support can cut IT operating costs, enable productivity, and help protect organizations from debilitating, costly and embarrassing security breaches.
6. User Environment Management: Even as Windows 10 migration is underway, enterprises are still running Windows 7, Windows XP and other older versions. The timing is right to sell endpoint solutions that can separate the user profile from the OS, thus ending the constant migration that has been the typical Windows practice. Your customers will benefit from a consistent, satisfying user experience that will help alleviate a lot of the frustration of switching to a new OS and wondering if their personal profile will accurately follow.
7. Cloud Enablement: Windows 10 opens the door for cloud-ready Office 365 adoption, and for further data migration projects to the cloud. Providing these solutions can offer month-to-month predictive revenue opportunities for partners and opens the door for additional Windows license sales as the customer scales up.
Windows 10, with its ongoing complexity of patching and branch upgrades, and the migration challenges it presents to organizations running multiple Windows versions, presents many opportunities to extend MSP business.
Integrate these seven opportunities into your complete migration services and solutions package. Show your customers you can help them solve their migration issues, from pre-deployment through full execution. There is plenty of business upside with significant numbers of organizations yet to fully deploy Windows 10. An industry survey of 1,825 IT professionals found that about 77% expect to be fully migrated to Windows 10 within the next two years, but more than half are now still in the early adoption phase. The timing is now to grow your Windows 10 business!
Reza Parsia is Senior Channel Director for Ivanti. He has been instrumental in the development of Ivanti's specialized programs for Expert Solution Providers (ESPs), Managed Services Providers (MSPs) and National Sales Providers (NSPs), across mobile, cloud and personal computing environments.