Are you upgrading to current Operating Systems? Read our blog on the difference between a manual in-place approach and an automated approach and find out why there's only one way to go.

If you’re running your business on unsupported Operating Systems (OSs), the good news is that you are not alone. Millions of companies are wrestling with the issue of how to address the unwieldy sprawl of technical debt. The bad news is that unless you find a way to address the problem once and for all, it will keep coming back to haunt you in ways that could cost your business its future. Some companies are paying out millions of dollars in extended support fees just to kick the problem of technical debt further down the road. Others are risking, or indeed facing, colossal fines levied against them for non-compliance. 

Yet the process of performing a manual In-Place OS Upgrade is a complex, risky, disruptive and, frankly, messy business. What’s needed is a highly scalable, non-disruptive and safe process that allows for unrestricted testing in the new OS by application owners. And this is exactly what RiverMeadow offers with its OS Modernization capability (more about this later) which, unlike the manual process, is built to perform bulk Automated OS Upgrades with zero impact on the business.

Let’s take a look at what we mean by an Automated OS Upgrade process and how it compares to a manual In-Place OS Upgrade:

What is an Automated OS Upgrade?

An Automated OS Upgrade is where the source environment is ‘cloned’ and identical copies of the workloads are created in this isolated environment. It is here, on the clone, where the OS upgrade takes place. There are numerous benefits to this approach and here are just some of them:

  • Zero Downtime: By creating a clone of the source means that the source environment remains live and untouched so the entire OS upgrade process is de-risked and simplified.
  • No Maintenance Window Required: Because the source remains up and running throughout the process, the need for a maintenance window goes, literally, out of the window so all the time and complexity that’s needed for planning the move to a tight schedule disappears.
  • Unrestricted Application Testing: Because an identical copy of the workload is created as an isolated environment, this means that unlimited user acceptance testing can be carried out at any point without the time pressure of a downtime window. The application owners are free to test the systems at whatever time suits their schedules. 
  • Data Sync: The ability to synchronize any of the data that’s changed on the source with the target clone means that any testing carried out on the clone is performed ‘live’ against the new OS, enabling the whole testing process to be carried out in a more methodical and timely manner.
  • No Containers: The method of cloning the source does not involve containerization, negating associated reliability and security concerns.
  • Continued Microsoft Licence Support: All software remains in an untouched state throughout the OS Upgrade process, so it continues to be fully supported by Microsoft in the new OS.
  • Cloud or On-Prem: Regardless of whether you’re staying on-prem or want to move to the cloud, the Automated OS Upgrade method is the same. All that’s needed is for the clone environment to be provisioned. 

What is a Manual In-Place OS Upgrade?

A manual In-Place OS Upgrade is where the source environment is taken offline and the process is carried out in a pre-arranged maintenance window. There are no notable benefits to this approach. However, numerous downsides aren’t hard to come by. Here are just some of them:

  • Source Machine is Offline: The entire process of upgrading the OS and having the application owners carry out testing is done in a downtime window, making it error-prone
  • Short Downtime Window: Production upgrades need to take place during short downtime windows which makes completing the many upgrade steps and testing almost impossible.
  • Full Backup Required: You’ll need a full backup of the source environment in case the process breaks at any point 
  • OS Upgrade Validation: The setup process must be run through to validate whether the OS can even be upgraded - which takes up valuable time in the maintenance window
  • Sync Issues: No one can touch the system to prevent data change from happening while the OS upgrade is happening as this will create sync issues 
  • Additional Upgrade Required: Once the OS upgrade is completed, all the agents, anti-virus software, security software etc. must be upgraded, all while the system is down
  • One Server at a Time: The process can only be performed one server at a time which makes it very time-consuming

RiverMeadow’s OS Modernization Platform

RiverMeadow’s OS Modernization Platform is the only software solution available on the market that will enable you to upgrade your legacy OSs to supported versions in an automated, highly scalable and non-disruptive way. 

The Platform has been successfully used in numerous Fortune 1000 OS Modernization projects with outstanding results:

  • Reduced Costs: Customers have seen cost savings of upwards of 65% compared with extended support fees (which, don’t forget, are only a stop-gap measure).
  • Time Savings: it is not uncommon for RiverMeadow’s Platform to perform automated OS upgrades on somewhere between 75 and 100 workloads per week versus some 5 per week if the process is done manually.
  • High Success Rates: In a majority of cases, customers report that at least 95% of their workloads work successfully in the new OS without the need for any refactoring, especially if they are starting out on Windows 2008 or Windows 2012 (and customers who are still running some applications on Windows 2003 simply roll back to find out where the problem lies without incurring any further cost).

To conclude, it’s clear that performing manual in-place OS upgrades is neither scalable nor sustainable. By its very nature, the process takes a significant toll on your business and requires considerable time to plan and execute, making it costly, time-consuming and error-prone. 

By contrast, RiverMeadow’s OS Modernization capability will help to reduce your technical debt faster, more cost-effectively and with less risk.

Future-proof your business:

Contact a RiverMeadow OS Modernization Expert today