Connect with us

Security

Windows 7: What is your company’s exit strategy?

Published

on

What is your company’s Windows 7 exit strategy?
If your business still has PCs running Windows 7, the Jan. 14, 2020 end of support is no joke. Ed Bott explains your four options. Read more: https://zd.net/370cHlg

[Note: This article was originally published in January 2019. It was extensively updated and republished in January 2020.]

If your business is still running on Windows 7, you have some important decisions to make, and very little time remaining. Windows 7 support officially ends in less than a month, on January 14, 2020. After that date, Microsoft will stop delivering security updates automatically, and by then many third-party vendors will have dropped support as well.

Most businesses completed their planning for migration to Windows 10 long ago and are in the final stages of implementing that plan. If you’re still procrastinating or have unresolved incompatibilities, it’s time to get serious. (And just to make sure you’re aware of the upcoming deadline, Microsoft is displaying pop-up notifications on Windows 7 PCs as the deadline approaches. After the deadline passes, you’ll be greeted with a full-page message warning you that your operating system is no longer supported.)

You have, by my calculation, four options. Which one you choose depends on why your organization is still clinging to Windows 7.

If the main reason is inertia, you’ll need to find something to motivate yourself. You could, for example, calculate the costs of cleaning up after a successful ransomware attack that spreads over your network, including the loss of business while you scramble to recover.

If you’re in a regulated industry, you might want to find out whether running an unsupported, unpatched operating system puts you at compliance risks, which can result in hefty fines and a loss of business when customers find out.

The other possible deployment blocker is a compatibility problem. For most Windows 7 apps, compatibility shouldn’t be an issue. For enterprises that are paying for Microsoft 365 subscriptions, a Microsoft initiative called Desktop App Assure offers free application remediation services. Microsoft says its engineers will “help remediate custom line-of-business apps, engage 3rd party software vendors to help with Windows 10 apps and address issues with Office 365 ProPlus macros and add-ins.”

If your business depends on specialized hardware or line-of-business software that absolutely will not run on Windows 10, you might be able to make a case for paying to extend the support deadline. But that just delays the inevitable by a year or two, or at most three. Your search for a replacement should be well under way by now.

So, what are your options?

Because I know that at least a dozen people will offer one particular suggestion in the comments to this post, let me bring it up right at the top of the list.

Option 1: Switch to Linux.

Something tells me that most businesses that have stuck with Windows 7 until nearly the bitter end have already considered and rejected this option. That’s especially the case for those businesses that are constrained by compatibility issues related to a mission-critical Windows app.

But sure, if you’re willing to completely replace your desktop infrastructure and switch out every productivity app you use, that’s a preferable alternative to the next option on the list.

Option 2: Do nothing.

On January 15, 2020, Windows 7 won’t stop working. In fact, you’re unlikely to notice any changes. If you feel lucky, this is certainly an option. You might even consider the lack of monthly updates a welcome feature.

Spoiler alert: This is a very bad idea, one that exposes you to all manner of possible bad outcomes.

If you absolutely must keep one or more Windows 7 PCs in operation, perhaps because they’re running a critical app or controlling a piece of old but essential hardware, the best advice I can offer is to completely disconnect that machine from the network and lock it down so that it only runs that one irreplaceable app.

Option 3: Pay for extended support.

When Windows XP support ended in April 2014, Microsoft offered to continue delivering patches for XP devices owned by large organizations that paid for Custom Support Agreements. But those contracts didn’t come cheap. Only very large enterprise customers could even qualify for one, and then the cost was literally millions of dollars, as my colleague Mary Jo Foley discovered.

For Windows 7, the extended support option is far more democratic. In September 2018, Microsoft announced its plan to offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs), and in October 2019 the company announced that it was extending this support to businesses of all sizes. You won’t need megabucks, either: The annual cost for an ESU contract covering calendar year 2020 is roughly $50 per device (although your reseller might charge more), with that price tag going up to $100 in year two and $200 in year three.

That escalating price schedule is intended to serve as a disincentive to Windows 7 users who might otherwise be tempted to kick the can a little further down the road. You’ll also need to find a reseller that is a member of the Cloud Solution Provider program and can deliver the ESU licenses you require. As I discovered when I tried to do just that, this isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Read More

Customers who have paid for Windows Software Assurance contracts or who have Windows 10 Enterprise or Education subscriptions will get a discount but will still be subject to significant price hikes in years 2 and 3.

You can eliminate the extra cost of Windows 7 Extended Security Updates completely if you move your workloads to virtual machines in Microsoft’s Azure cloud. That option will be available using the new Windows Virtual Desktop option, which should be available as a preview soon. For businesses that only need to virtualize individual line-of-business applications, this could be a cost-effective option.

Option 4: Bite the bullet and upgrade.

If you don’t have any compatibility issues that need to be addressed first, the simplest and most straightforward route is to put together a deployment plan and begin executing it. But the details of that plan matter, especially if you want to avoid the headaches of the “Windows as a service” model.

As always, of course, the easiest upgrade path is via hardware replacement. Any device that’s five years old or more is an obvious candidate for recycling. Devices that were designed for Windows 10 and then downgraded to Windows 7 should be excellent candidates for in-place upgrades, after first making sure that the systems have the most recent BIOS/UEFI firmware updates.

For systems that were sold between 2013 and 2015 with Windows 8 licenses and then downgraded to Windows 7, you might be able to save some money by installing Windows 8.1 (no additional license payment required) and then using a third-party utility like Classic Shell to replicate the Windows 7 look and feel. Doing this gets you three years of no-cost additional support, good until January 10, 2023.

For businesses that choose a Windows 10 upgrade, one not-so-obvious factor to consider is which Windows 10 edition to deploy. The default choice for most businesses is Windows 10 Pro, but I strongly suggest considering an additional upgrade to the Enterprise (or Education) edition.

Yes, machines running Windows 10 Pro allow your admins to defer feature updates, but the support schedule for Enterprise/Education is significantly longer: up to 30 months, as opposed to 18 months for Pro  (For a description of the new support schedule, including a chart that explains how the new schedule works, see “Windows 10 Enterprise customers will now get Linux-like support.”)

The other advantage of moving to the Enterprise/Education editions is the availability of a new support offering called Desktop App Assure. If you encounter a compatibility issue during the upgrade, you file a support ticket and get engineering support to resolve the issue.

For most businesses, the Windows Enterprise E3 and E5 subscription options are probably the easiest and most cost-effective here.

Whichever option you choose, though, now’s the time to get to work. That ticking sound is going to be deafening after January 14, 2020.

RELATED AND PREVIOUS COVERAGE



Source link

Continue Reading

Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

Published

on

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

Published

on

Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

Published

on

Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

Trending