How to end the end of support scramble with lifecycle management

By Frank Suglia

Since Microsoft announced it will soon end support for Office 2013, some IT administrators are scrambling to upgrade. Others are not. IT administrators who practise software lifecycle management have already identified, scheduled and implemented necessary upgrades.

While some administrators are losing sleep over the looming loss of access to technical support, updates, bug fixes and security patches, those practising lifecycle management have moved on to focus on other vital business functions.

Simply put, software lifecycle management reduces surprises by configuring the IT environment and following a plan for ongoing assessments and updates.

The concept is simple, but it’s not always easy to implement. As IT environments have become more complex and geographically dispersed, an entire team can be consumed by just trying to keep up. And each new addition of hardware or software that requires specialised knowledge can mean additional hiring and lengthy learning curves.

Making lifecycle management work

Software lifecycle management has to start with a big-picture look at the configuration of an IT environment. A clear-eyed assessment can expose issues that need to be addressed before this strategy can be effective. Issues like sprawl, cumbersome legacy systems, and the demands of critical business functions.

Of course, it’s also important to understand the capabilities and availability of staff who will be able to monitor the environment while managing change and innovation.

Lifecycle management begins with careful configuration, then involves ongoing drift analysis to identify systems that are due for updates, reconfiguration, or patching. IT systems require continuous attention to avoid performance loss, non-compliance, and security vulnerabilities.

But this is increasingly impossible as systems are becoming larger and more complex. Fortunately, automations are being developed to streamline the tasks of identifying, patching, and updating of systems. Implementing automations not only gives precious time back to your team for more important activities, it helps to mitigate the potential for human error.

There’s another tool that may be overlooked while implementing a lifecycle management plan. That tool is MigrationWiz from my own company.

What’s migration got to do with it?

IT administrators often think of migrations as the result of a merger or acquisition, not necessarily as a management tool. But migration can be the starting point for configuring an environment so IT can implement efficient lifecycle management.

Moving to the cloud or consolidating tenants is a growing strategy for taking the burden of day-to-day administrative chores off of your team – allowing them to focus on more impactful work.

Established cloud providers, like Microsoft Azure, handle maintenance, updates, patches, and security – so you don’t have to. The flexibility of a cloud environment also assures more capacity to optimize system configuration and implement new applications more quickly.

Without an automated migration tool like MigrationWiz, some IT administrators were hesitant to take on what they perceived to be yet another big project. Now, strategically executed migrations have become a component of streamlined lifecycle management because a consolidated cloud environment can result in lower support and operating costs, significant time savings, improved productivity, and the end of costly and embarrassing downtime.

Frank Suglia, is VP of technical services at BitTitan