Monday, May 16, 2016

Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?


Microsoft released its latest operating system, Windows 10, on July, 29 2015. By the end of 2015, Windows 10 was installed on over 200 million devices on the way to Microsoft's target installation of 1 billion devices within 3 years of it's release. So, should you upgrade your PC to Windows 10 now? The absolute, definitive answer is...  "It Depends".
What is an Operating System
An operating system (OS) is the most important software that runs on any computer. It manages and controls the computer's use of memory, processes, and all of its software, peripherals and hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without having to know the computer's actual "language" (e.g. via a keyboard, monitor and mouse). Without an operating system, a computer is useless.

At the end of 2015, this was the estimated PC operating system deployment market share (as per Net Applications.com):
Microsoft:
Windows 7:
Windows 10:
Windows 8 / 8.1:
Windows XP:
Others:
Apple (all Mac OS):
Linux / Other:

47.82%
15.34%
13.04%
10.63%
  1.94%
  9.57%
  1.66%

Decision Factors:
  • Windows 10 is a free upgrade to current users of Windows 7 and 8.1. There’s a good chance that your PC is already displaying a new icon in the system tray and prompting you to upgrade. Officially, the free upgrade offer ends on July 29, 2016, 1 year after the original release date. For Windows XP or Vista users, Windows 10 is a paid upgrade, which may be a bigger decision factor.
  • The Windows 10 download and upgrade are automatic. Via the new icon in the system tray or the pop-up prompt, you can have the upgrade run now or schedule the upgrade for a future time.
  • If you are not tech savvy, you can schedule a free appointment at a Microsoft store for a technician to perform the upgrade for you. You will likely need to leave your device at the Microsoft store for a few days.
  • Windows 10 includes "Cortana", the virtual assistant that is similar to Google Now and Apple’s Siri on smart phones. You can control elements of your PC simply by using your voice.
  • For major software you have installed on your PC, it is likely to be a smooth upgrade. However, check with the software provider if you are not sure.
  • For peripherals such as printers and scanners, you may need to download new drivers to ensure they work properly on the new platform.
  • The overall look-and-feel of Windows 10 is similar to Windows 7 and the Windows 8.1 desktop. But, there are some differences that you may need time to adjust to.
  • Windows OS End-of-Support dates:
    • WinXP/Vista: Completely desupported
    • Windows 7: No mainstream support (no product upgrades)
    • Security upgrades through July 2020
    • Windows 8: Mainstream support through January 2018
    • Security upgrades through January 2023
    • Windows 10: Mainstream support through October 2020

If I Upgrade and Don't Like it, Can I Downgrade?
Microsoft has built in a process that only requires a few clicks to have the system roll back to Windows 7 or 8.1, as long as you haven’t deleted the windows.old folder that stores your previous version. Click HERE to link to Microsoft's roll back instructions.

As you can see, the decision to upgrade your Windows PC to Windows 10 depends on several factors. The overall results of upgrading to Windows 10 is that process is fairly smooth, and the platform is stable. However, proceed moving forward aware of the factors listed above to minimize disruption and surprises by the upgrade process.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery


When people start to develop plans to deal with a major impact event they are confronted by two different terms: Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). A mistake often made by organizations is that if they have an IT DRP that they are OK. That is not always the case. There is quite a difference between these two plans and it is important that your organization understands the differences, and what type of planning each requires.
The nature of both of these topics is sufficiency extensive that we will not cover building a Business Continuity Plan or Disaster Recovery Plan in this post. We will save those for future posts. In this post, we will make the case that BCP & DRP are different, and you need to plan for both.

Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) documents the policies, procedures and actions to limit the disruption to an organization in the wake of a disaster. Just as a disaster is an event that makes the continuation of normal functions impossible, a disaster recovery plan consists of actions intended to minimize the negative impact of a disaster and allow the organization to maintain (or quickly resume) mission-critical infrastructure functions. For most companies, the emphasis of DRP is more on their IT infrastructure than maintaining business operations.

For DRP, the question you must answer is, "If we lost any of our IT services, how would we recover?"

Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan (BCP) describes the processes and procedures an organization must put in place to ensure that mission-critical business functions can continue during and after a disaster. The emphasis of BCP is more on maintaining business operations than IT infrastructure.

For BCP, the question you must answer is, "If we lost our building or staff, how would we recover?"

Understanding Risk
Often, organizations consider DCP or BCP the same and plan just for one. That is an incorrect assumption. The reason why that is incorrect is either from the perspective of misunderstanding all of their risks, or choosing to accept a level of risk that is higher than the organization can actually tolerate.

Many organizations put the responsibility of mitigating operational risk on the IT department. I believe that is a misconception caused by organizational management understanding their business, but perceive IT as complicated and something they do not understand as well. Then, they look to the IT department to mitigate the risks in IT. My position is that the responsibility of mitigating operational risk falls on the Finance department since they are responsible for all the day to day accounting for the business leading to profitability. Therefore, the Finance department must ensure all risk to profitability is defined and mitigated.

Risk Assessment
The first step that an organization needs to take is to perform a risk assessment. In short, a risk assessment will identify and estimate of the types and levels of risk that will impact the organization. The next step is to compare the uncovered risks against the determination of the acceptable level of risk within each department in the organization. What should come out of the completed risk assessment are a set of risks throughout the organization, impacting both the IT and the business functions.

The risks that are identified as impacting IT will fall under the Disaster Recovery Plan. The risks that are identified as impacting the business functions will fall under the Business Continuity Plan. While the 2 plans will have details that are interrelated, the 2 plans must be defined, developed and maintained separately to be completely effective. But, they must be developed with consideration of each others goals and planned outcomes.