The global recession forever changed the face of business; some would call it scarred, others would say its visage has become gaunt. Few believe that business will ever look the same again. Certainly, enterprises must run leaner now, and they must also run smarter and faster. This remains true even as the recession fades, markets regain their luster, stocks rise and hold, and profits return to corporate coffers.
A bevy of innovations have recently boiled to the top of the technology brew to assist enterprises in making their global operations run faster, smoother, and with greater profits. It may surprise you that Windows 7 is high on that list.
“With improved licensing formats, user-friendly language packs, and virtualization features that reduce workload on the back-end, Windows 7 simplifies conducting business internationally compared to previous operating systems (OS),” says Doug Miller, CDW Microsoft solution architect.
Simplified Licensing Becomes a Strategic Advantage
In the past, licensing issues were usually left to the legal department. IT and business unit leaders largely ignored them. That’s because licensing was seen strictly as a legal representation of the deal and nothing more.
The global recession changed that view. Many businesses found themselves struggling against immovable restrictions that made it nearly impossible to cut back costs even when staff cutbacks left dozens to hundreds of licensed seats empty. This problem was magnified over multiple licensing contracts with a single vendor to cover enterprise operations per country.
In a particular savvy move that recognized these multi-country licensing hindrances, Microsoft simplified licensing for international Windows 7 deployment.
“Rather than licensing their operating system country by country, as was the case in the past, Microsoft enables businesses to license one OS that can [be] used throughout the globe,” explains Miller. “Not only is this cost-effective, but it increases interoperability throughout the organization by enabling a standardized OS to be used company-wide,” he added.
These days, simplified licensing is a hallmark of enterprise strategy to enable faster, more unified deployments. It creates more agility in responding to global operational challenges.
Language Packs Add Personal Versatility in Multilingual Environments
Another power feature in Windows 7 is uniquely and ideally suited for enterprises with global operations and/or diverse workforces: Microsoft’s language packs.
“The language packs don’t just translate key components into a respective language; rather most information is translated, providing a much more encompassing experience,’ explains CDW’s Miller. “Also, businesses can install Windows 7 with literally just icons, no words at all, further standardizing the OS company-wide.”
“Finally, utilizing Windows 7’s virtualization features enhance usage of the language packs while simultaneously reducing maintenance time and cost on the back-end,” he added. “The operating system’s desktop virtualization functions enable network administrators to deploy Windows 7 with several feature sets, allowing the user to select any language he/she sees fit. This eliminates the need to install the application several different times for each respective language.”
It also means you can easily have desktop interfaces in different languages for different users on the same computer.
Centralized Deployment Speeds-Up and Eases Operations Globally
Another key advantage in using Windows 7 to enhance global operations is the operating system’s centralization benefits including its centralized management of desktop workloads. This also improves business continuity, say experts.
“Virtual Desktop Infrastructure has finally caught [up] with the competition in Windows 7,” says Anil Parambath, vice president of CSS Corporation’s Global Testing Practice.
“It can now become an alternate delivery model for corporate users to access desktops running centrally in the cloud,” explains Parambath. “Each user gets authorized access to a personal desktop, thereby improving flexibility for the user and also [for] IT departments who can take advantage of the centralization.”
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) offers each user access to a personal desktop from any authorized device. It works by using virtual machines hosted on servers. Beyond leveraging the advantages of remote access, it also enables users to reuse virtual machine (VHD) images to boot a physical PC. VDI in Windows 7 delivers a better user experience and offers better graphics, audio and local device support.
“User workspace management is the way forward to face every change in your desktop environment, now and in the future, at a lower total cost of ownership, without losing control and without compromising the user experience and productivity,” said Bob Janssen, RES Software’s CTO in a prepared statement.
Virtualization Powers Productivity
Indeed, Windows 7 virtualization tools present a powerful business advantage.
“Windows 7 has tools that ease the corporate IT to drive desktop virtualization as a means to reduce cost of managing globally dispersed user workstations,” says Amit Sen, director and practice leader of Business Consulting Services at Patni Americas. Patni is a global IT services provider.
“It has been a dream for the corporate IT infrastructure management team to drive down the cost of managing user workstation environments and drive down the cost of support by standardizing the corporate application footprint,” he added.
“So far, there has not been a significant cost advantage to go virtual with desktop environment just to replace the current workstation environment. But with the next refresh to Windows 7, companies will have the opportunity to go virtual with their desktop environments,” explains Sen. “Windows Virtual PC, which is included with Windows 7, will make this experience of virtualized desktop relatively seamless. This will enable applications currently meant for XP to run in a Windows 7 environment.”
The drive to marry the virtual desktop with cloud services will continue to grow.
“Many applications which used to be part of Windows will now have to be downloaded from Windows Live,” says CSS’ Parambath. “This will drive more users to the Live platform and we will start seeing more integration between the desktop and the live cloud platform.”
There are virtualization tools beyond the desktop, too.
App-V (Application Virtualization), for example, streams applications on demand over the Internet or via the corporate network to desktops, terminal servers, and laptops.
“It enables you to transform applications into centrally managed virtual services (Cloud) and increase user productivity,” explains Parambath. “The BranchCache feature in Windows 7 will make App-v faster since it has to traverse the network only once, avoiding network traffic delays and centralization,” he added.
In coming days, Windows 7 will become increasingly central to the changes in business operations underway now on a global scale. Attempting to compete with an older operating system will significantly hamper many other competitive advantages.
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