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How Big Data Can Solve Windows XP Migrations: Interview with BDNA's Mahesh Kumar

How Big Data Can Solve Windows XP Migrations: Interview with BDNA's Mahesh Kumar

I recently had the opportunity to interview BDNA's CMO, Mahesh Kumar, about the company's unique solutions to help maximize efficiency and minimize time and resources for those Windows XP migration projects that have to be completed by April 8, 2014. 

BDNA is a company focused on data. Long before the term "Big Data" was coined, BDNA was already working to manage the volumes of data being created and consumed by companies all over the world. 

How can a data-focused company help with Windows XP migrations? You might be surprised how important getting a handle on specific pieces of data can save costs and accelerate the move from an old operating system to a newer one. One of my goals during the interview was to try and get a handle on this myself and I feel confident all of that (and more) was answered. 

Here's the interview in its entirety:


Me: As we know, April 2014 is the end-of-life for Windows XP. What do you think are the most critical factors why companies need to migrate off of the aging operating system?

Mahesh: There are many compelling reasons for enterprises to move off Windows XP.

Cost: With Microsoft ending extended support for Windows XP, the cost of supporting Windows XP will soar. In an analysis funded by Microsoft, analyst firm IDC determined that the cost of supporting the aging Windows XP was $870 per PC, about five times the cost of supporting Windows 7 at $168 per PC. 

Security: Users of the 12-year-old Windows XP will be at risk after April 2014 because Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, non-security fixes or technical support for XP.

Application support: Application vendors are increasingly moving away from supporting Windows XP. A lot of applications that an enterprise currently uses may not be supported on Windows XP. 

Modern applications: Modern applications are increasingly being built to work on newer operating systems. Companies planning to modernize their application portfolio to take advantage of virtualization, higher performance, scalability, etc., should move to the newer versions of Windows OS. Even Internet Explorer 9 is not compatible with Windows XP.   

Me: What solutions does BDNA offer to help companies migrate?

Mahesh: BDNA accelerates Windows Migrations by compressing the time required for Planning and Preparation from an industry average of 9 months down to 4 weeks. If the Windows Migration process can be broken down into the 4 broad phases of Plan, Prepare, Package and Deploy, the amount of time that the first two phases take is roughly half the total time. In other words, by automating and compressing the Planning and Preparation phase, enterprises can fast track their Windows Migrations by nearly 50%. Given that the end of extended support for Windows XP is less than 5 months away, enterprises need smart tools and techniques to get to the finish line before the deadline.

Here’s a real customer example. A global 20 bank was migrating 400,000 desktops with a total of 6000 unique applications. At the end of 9 months, the 14-member migration team was still dealing with 800 million rows of data with no clear information on compatibility and a lot of uncertainty on the actual time it would take to migrate. However, within two weeks of bringing in BDNA Normalize, the bank was not only able to reduce the 800 million rows of data by 95%, they found out that 50% of the applications in the environment were immediately compatible with Windows 7 and about 25% needed upgrades to the next version. BDNA Normalize also identified applications that were near end of life to enable better migration decisions. The data accuracy went from 58% to 99%.

Me: Can you explain what BDNA’s solution actually does?

Mahesh: The BDNA solution leverages the power of Data as a Service to provide actionable data for Windows Migrations. Such data enables enterprises to migrate off Windows XP in nearly half the time it would take with manual efforts.

A typical migration starts with developing a clear, comprehensive baseline of hardware and software inventory. BDNA Data as a Service leverages existing data sources including Microsoft Configuration Manager, Microsoft MAP or Microsoft SMS as well as other vendor tools from HP, IBM, BMC and more to aggregate all inventory data and normalize it to a consistent taxonomy. Inconsistencies are fixed, duplicates resolved and irrelevant low-level data removed from analyses. By the way, irrelevant data such as drivers, dlls, hotfixes, etc. account for roughly 95% of all data in most inventory management systems. 

Next, BDNA Data as a Service appends rich market intelligence to the normalized data. Information on hardware readiness, 64 bit compatibility, Windows 7 compatibility, upgrade path, etc. is appended. 

What’s more, BDNA Data as a Service automatically also adds information on software end of life. So, your migration decisions are more effective because you won’t be spending time and effort migrating over applications that will be at their end of life immediately after the migration.

Following are a few screenshots from BDNA’s automated reporting on Windows Migration readiness. The screenshot below shows desktop hardware readiness.  Clockwise starting from top right CPU compatibility, HDD compatibility, RAM compatibility and Overall readiness based on the above 3 parameters.

The following screenshot shows Software Readiness for Migration.  BDNA Normalize identifies and defines applications as “Compatible”, “Compatible – Windows 7 logo”, “Free Update Required”, “Paid Update Required”, “Future Compatibility”, “Not Compatible” and “Information Coming Soon.”

This is a screenshot from BDNA Analyze showing software that will be at end of life in 6 months.

Me: Obviously, BDNA is not a stand-alone product, but integrates with others. What products does BDNA work with?

Mahesh: BDNA integrates with most data sources found in enterprises today. Instead of adding yet another data source to the already crowded enterprise IT landscape, BDNA Data as a Service leverages existing data sources including Microsoft, HP, IBM, BMC, Bladelogic and other vendors’ tools. BDNA has connectors to over 35 different sources. See the full list here:  In addition, BDNA Data as a Service can use a database connection to extract data or can read flat files. 

Me: Do you have any ideas for how organizations can move quickly to another Windows operating system? i.e., project plans, tasks, etc.

Mahesh: The success of any initiative is based on the quality of the underlying data. As Napoleon Bonaparte said “War is 90% information.” Top shelf project management and migration tools cannot guarantee a successful migration if the underlying data is of poor quality. We recommend that enterprises always use the power of data and information to make the right decisions for their enterprise. So, before enterprises decide to move to another Operating System, here are some ideas:

  • Don’t compromise on the quality of underlying information you have. Get a clear, comprehensive picture of your current environment. Get detailed specs on underlying hardware and develop a clean and thorough profile of your application portfolio. Get all this data to a common taxonomy so you can track and measure better.
  • In planning your migration strategy, factor in the application product lifecycle, application licensability, hardware power ratings and other metrics that impact your migration process, as well as your post-migration environment.
  • Bring in market data early. Collect information on compatibility and upgrade path, and include that in planning a non-disruptive migration project.  
  • Testing compatibility manually takes several months. Use tools wherever possible to automatically clean your data and supply the market intelligence. Given that, for example, 95% of the data in Configuration Manager consists of low-level data such as drivers, dlls, etc., relying on manual efforts for clean up and normalization is cost-ineffective and unsustainable.   

Me: In addition to Windows XP losing support, Office 2003 also loses support in April 2014. Can BDNA help in this area, too?

Mahesh: Yes, BDNA has been extensively applied to Software Asset Management processes. BDNA goes beyond just support dates; it helps companies identify what would be a good strategic and operational fit for their needs. “What options do we have for license vs. upgrade?”  “Does moving to Office 365 make sense for us or should we continue with Office on-premise?” “What are the current and future costs of each option including hardware upgrades?” Making such decisions needs market intelligence on application licensability, upgrade options, etc. Also, existing inventory data must be sliced, diced and analyzed to determine hardware readiness, adequacy of memory, etc. BDNA Data as a Service automates this data analysis and brings in the market intelligence for confident decision-making.

Let’s take a look at this example you bring up.

The Office 2003 bundle may vary slightly from desktop to desktop. Some may have Access included, some may not, some may have Visio, and some may not. BDNA Data as a Service normalizes the deployments for an accurate picture on what’s deployed across the enterprise.  

  • Hardware requirements: BDNA Data as a Service will report on the hardware specs and power ratings to assess whether the underlying hardware meets the minimum requirements for the new version of Office you plan to install.
  • Software compatibility: BDNA Data as a Service will report on software compatibility with the new Windows OS. For example, Office 2013 is not compatible with Windows Vista, but it can run on Win 7, Win 8, WS 2008 and WS 2012. 
  • License Compliance: When replacing older applications with newer versions, due diligence needs to be applied in determining license compliance because vendor-licensing metrics may change. When this information is automatically provided to you through BDNA Data as a Service, you can migrate to newer versions faster while maintaining technology and license compliance
  • Product lifecycle information: In most cases, enterprises don’t have access to up-to-date information on product support dates and end-of-life. This information may influence whether you migrate to Office 2007, Office 2010 or Office 2013. BDNA provides this information out-of-the-box for all software in the environment.

Me: Once Windows XP migrations are complete, what benefits does the BDNA solution provide for companies long term?

Mahesh: Great question! BDNA Data as a Service, with its industrialized approach to providing clean, actionable data enriched with market context gives enterprises the information they need for all key ITIL processes and initiatives. 

The idea is quite simple – BDNA Data as a Service takes data from enterprise data sources, cleans it, and enriches it with market intelligence to provide insights that directly lead to action. By taking an end-to-end approach, it cuts through many layers of complexity and overhead to provide accurate insights very rapidly. BDNA Data as a Service is an efficient way to identify and reclaim wasteful spend with clean, curated and complete data for all initiatives. BDNA’s ability to normalize all enterprise data and supply up-to-date market intelligence greatly reduces security and compliance risks to key initiatives and enables companies to reclaim innovation budgets by saving costs.

BDNA Data as a Service has been used extensively by enterprises for IT Service Management, IT Asset Management, Software Asset Management, and License Compliance, among other initiatives. 

Additional resources:

BDNA web site

Data as a Service

Fast track Windows migrations

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