Exodus of Windows98™ Highlights the Need to Know Your Assets

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This week, the final support for Windows98 was terminated by Microsoft. While corporate operating systems have been upgraded, there is still concern for special cases that prevented change, or for assets that simply missed the sweeping upgrade. Changing an operating system highlights the importance of understanding corporate assets and how they are used.

Last week, the final support for Windows98 was terminated by Microsoft. While corporate operating systems have been upgraded, there is still concern for special cases that prevented change, or for assets that simply missed the sweeping upgrade. Software asset management expert David Keith, Director of Strategic Development for the International Association of IT Asset Managers, Inc. (IAITAM) expressed some concern. "Through our members and course attendees, I have found that organizations still operating with Windows98 have specialized applications that are not compatible with later versions of Windows. In general, organizations are struggling to build an accurate accounting of what assets exist in their environments, let alone controlling the configurations of those assets. In addition to that issue is that organizations with virtual workforces make up a significant percentage of the estimated 50 million users still operating on Windows98. Virtual workforces with their limited ability for regular technology refreshes constitute a potential nightmare for operating system upgrades for their organizations."

Since most organizations do not have IT asset management processes and products that span the entire environment, it can be very difficult to insure that an application, an operating system or a type of hardware has been truly retired. “The retirement of Windows98 has several important things to teach us,” stated Walter Szablowski, President of Eracent, Inc. “It has become clear that older operating systems have a much longer life than expected due to the costs for upgrading and the impact to applications.” The Windows98 termination, originally scheduled for January, 2004, was extended due to customer response. The impact to applications and the subsequent costs of upgrading an operating system snowballed into major IT projects that drove customers to plead for more time. With the subsequent delay of Vista, organizations have most likely upgraded to Windows XP™ or moved some part of the environment to Linux alternatives.

“This situation highlights the importance of really understanding what your corporate assets are and how they are used,” explained Szablowski. “Without a clear picture of the downstream impact of an operating system, including the software and the business functions that will be impacted, you cannot prepare appropriately for the change.” To upgrade Windows 98 to Windows XP, an analysis of RAM was required to determine the number of machines that required an accompanying hardware upgrade. “Unless you can hone in on the systems affected, you are stuck upgrading everything. The money wasted on even one botched upgrade project cost-justifies IT asset management.”

IT asset management business practices and products are the best investment for proactively preparing for transition and for auditing the completeness of the transition. IAITAM recommends the acquisition of a discovery tool as the first step in successful hardware or software asset management. Eracent further recommends that buyers use discretion when purchasing a discovery tool, emphasizing accuracy, completeness and flexibility. Complexity in corporate environments is a constant, even if nothing else is.

About Eracent: Eracent, Inc. is a global provider of IT asset management solutions for organizations who require accuracy and accountability for their asset inventory while maximizing their IT investment. Eracent offers a full suite of IT asset management solutions that solve tactical and strategic business goals with technology that is easy to use and designed for today’s multi-platform complex environments. Eracent’s ease of implementation includes compatibility with most popular enterprise software applications and has been used to enhance the value of such widely used solutions as Microsoft® SMS™ (MSFT), IBM® Tivoli™ (IBM) and Altiris® Software Delivery Solution™ (ATRS). To learn more about Eracent, visit http://www.eracent.com, or send email .

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Jenny Schuchert