A recent Gartner survey shows that 80% of all enterprises will have started to migrate to Windows 10 by the end of 2018. By then, Windows 10 will be 3.5 years old and will have seen seven versions (namely 1507, 1511, 1609, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809)!
One of the biggest roadblocks to a smooth and efficient rollout (and subsequent service updates) is application packaging and testing. Despite Microsoft’s claims that it did not test 99% of its apps before migration and its encouragement for enterprises to do the same, meaning test applications in-flight and only if things break, I have yet to encounter any large organization who is willing to take this kind of risk.
For strategic-minded enterprise IT managers and executives who are looking to increase the velocity and agility of their IT organization, the plan of action is clear: They can only tackle this constant volume of app packaging and testing by significantly reducing tedious manual and labor-intensive packaging and testing tasks through the use of smart automation.
However, getting the rest of the organization on board can be rather challenging as the specific benefits of automating application packaging and testing are highly dependent upon the stakeholder’s role in the enterprise and must be explained differently. To ease this struggle, I want to go through each of the major roles and map out the benefits from that person’s particular point of view.
Generally, larger organizations have a technical operations team where the app packaging and testing teams reside. If an application packaging and testing automation platform is purchased, this group would own and use it. This makes them the most important stakeholder as they should have the biggest say in which tool fits their needs.
The head of this organization would be the IT Operations Manager. His/her role is to ensure, from an operational point of view, a proper content distribution, e.g., that all software is distributed to the appropriate server infrastructure and available for users to install them.
Since the IT Operations Manager has a more operational view than a product manager would have, this person would look for a robust application packaging solution that can create and copy data around their organization and will therefore increase their efficiency in distributing software.
IT automation can be extremely beneficial to the IT Operations Managers as an automated application packaging solution, like Access Capture, performs the majority of their workload quickly. If used properly, it can help with categorization and normalization of the applications list. The operations team can thus begin prioritizing applications more quickly, allowing them to identify the ones that will be of greatest benefit to the users in each department. Application packaging software can also enforce rationalization on the apps based on an enterprise’s business rules.
(Business-as-Usual) IT Support Manager
IT support managers prepare an organization’s IT infrastructure for each new version of software. They must ensure that an install or an uninstall of an application isn’t going to cause any problems with other apps that depend on this particular one, that licensing control is checked, and so forth.
For an Office 365 migration, for example, this person would be responsible for making sure that the upgrade won’t conflict with any existing apps (e.g., Adobe PDF Reader) that depend on the software being upgraded. Therefore, he or she must be aware of all co-dependencies between products and know exactly what version the environment is going to be upgraded to and what impact it will have on the end users.
From the view point of an IT support manager, the main goal of implementing an automated app packaging and testing solution is to minimize disruption to the end user as much as possible. He will ask himself: “Can this help the end user self service? Will it enable me to maintain control over software licenses? Can software be uninstalled and re-installed without any major problems for the end user?” This role changes slightly in a Business-as-Usual (BAU) environment, where the desk-side support is responsible for accepting delivery of both pre- and post-migration services.
Finally, an automated app packaging and testing solution allows IT support managers to increase their efficiency by generating reports on migration activity, allowing their team members to review the details of any device or user. For example, a user reports an application is missing after a migration, which normally involves a complex series of steps to determine why the application was missed. With a packaging solution, an IT support manager only needs to review the current application state mapping and audit history to understand this issue.
Within the context of application packaging and testing before a Windows 10 update, Development IT Managers or Product Managers need to manage the application testing and packaging required in a Windows 10 update as efficiently as possible. Their main focus is on the smooth integration with existing infrastructure and technologies through API and automation of the deployment.
A packaging solution allows these development team members to give users the ability to generate their own data lists, which significantly reduces the developers’ reporting burden. Furthermore, team members can assess the impact that a new application will have on the infrastructure within the packaging tool, including failure trends. This capability allows them to spend more time developing technical solutions for business problems.
Windows 10 Program Managers are responsible for the initial migration to Windows 10 as well as rolling out feature updates to end users every six months. They’re primarily concerned with increasing the efficiency of this process without impacting the end users any more than necessary.
A solution like Access Capture will streamline and automate the majority of the packaging and testing tasks that end users or a designated tester normally performs for a Windows 10 update. This capability shifts the focus of the update process away from the management of individual data points and towards the management of the project itself. Packaging tools also track the assets and tasks that are in progress during an update, allowing reports to be generated in real time.
In a Business-as-Usual scenario, Group Managers are usually the head of the infrastructure services team. They own the software distribution process, including the post-distribution tasks such as the disposition of unneeded hardware, inventory updates and initial support.
They are most interested in integrating the infrastructure’s current technology with other products to handle software distribution. These managers are also responsible for the end-user rollout, including developing an achievable distribution schedule.
Application packaging solutions allow group managers to manage distributions from a central location and trigger them automatically on a pre-defined schedule. They can also automate the process for pushing device details to other tools on a schedule. Additionally, some packaging solutions generate drop sheets with migration information, which can greatly increase migration efficiency.
Senior management stakeholders are most concerned with high-level agendas, including the introduction of self-service automation, moving towards a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and DNS, DHCP and IP address (DDI) management.
For them, the nitty-gritty of app management is too technical, dry and boring. Implementing an IT automation solution to help with that isn’t about how much faster you can run 100 apps through the packaging and testing cycle but about the impact this could have on their bigger agenda items. For example, you have to get apps to a certain method of distribution on the virtual desktops. So you need to be able to test them first and repeat the tests for Windows-as-a-Service and by implementing a solution like Capture this is possible within the next X months.
These tools also allow senior managers to easily extract the real-time data they need from a central dashboard.
In summary, application packaging and testing automation benefits are applicable to all types or roles within an organization — everyone is looking to automation to be more efficient, streamline or even eliminate tedious, complex, and labor-intensive tasks (e.g., documentation creation comes to mind) and as a result, make the process more repeatable and therefore scalable. This in turn enables the organization to be more agile and increase its time to market.
The message is the same at its core, but based on their specific focus, you have to see the world through your stakeholders’ eyes and focus on the benefits they will care about most.
Please feel free to contact us for a complementary consultation if you would like more information or have specific questions on how to position Access IT Automation or app packaging and testing automation in general internally.