End of Life for Windows 7 – The 7 Stages of Grief


Mourners around the globe are gathering to pay their respects to Microsoft’s most successful operating system, Windows 7, as it was laid to rest this month.

Grief Stage #1 – Denial

As with many losses, there are certainly a large number of people and businesses who choose to remain in the first stage of grief – denial. In this particular case, denial is not a river in Egypt or a good place to be. Those businesses who don’t address this loss and begin their migration to Windows 10 soon, leave themselves vulnerable to hackers, ransomware and cyber-attacks. Any one of those things could bring down a large, global company or at the very least cause major financial losses, loss of crucial company information and deeply damage a company’s reputation both internally and externally. I am confident that if you surveyed 400 million IT professionals, none of them would respond that they want any of that to happen to their company.

Grief Stage #2 – Pain &Guilt

The loss of included Windows 7 updates and security patches is hard to swallow and the idea of updating all dispersed endpoints within your enterprise to Windows 10 is painful. With this pain, you may have feelings of guilt for not acting sooner or preparing for this loss. However, the sooner you act, the sooner you will be able to move forward to the next phase. Start your migration as soon as you can!

Grief Stage #3 – Frustration, Anger & Bargaining

In the case of losing our faithful OS of ten years, frustration, anger and bargaining is a natural stage in the grieving process. Having to migrate your entire company to a new operating system is a huge undertaking. This frustration and fear of the unknown can lead to anger and bargaining. Some IT professionals will cope by questioning and proposing alternatives to this reality that Windows 7 is dead. Is there any painless way around this? Why can’t they just stick with Windows 7? Why can’t we just avoid/delay the update? What’s the worst that can happen?

Grief Stage #4 – Depression & Loneliness

Once you realize that your executives and board don’t want to find out what the worst thing that can happen, Stage 3 quickly evolves into depression and loneliness. Hackers, ransomware and cyber-attacks are absolutely worth avoiding. But how can you accomplish this massive move to a new operating system singlehandedly? It may feel hopeless and you may feel alone in trying to solve this feat. But I would bet, if your company suffers financial or other critical losses that are directly related to not migrating sooner, your depression and loneliness will mutate into something much more intense.

Grief Stage #5 – The Upward Turn

Life becomes a bit calmer and more organized once you realize there are options to help you deal with this change. Your symptoms of depression can start to lift when you realize ‘Yes, I can solve this.’

Grief Stage #6 – Reconstruction & Working Through

This is the stage where you realize you must get on with life and find an operating system that is supported and secure. You had a good run with Windows 7, but it’s time to move on. In this reconstructing stage, understanding what solutions are out there and evaluating them will serve you well.

Grief Stage #7 – Acceptance & Hope

Once you have moved on, you are ready to deal with the reality of the situation. Windows 7 is dead and is not coming back. If you are one of the 53% of companies still on W7 , you need to get your endpoints on Windows 10, as soon as possible. With a hopeful mindset, you are able to clearly evaluate your options: Do you want to take the risk and ignore these warnings by staying on Windows 7 with no support? Do you want to pay for Microsoft extended support for Windows 7? That seems like a lot of money and doesn’t help your organization transform into a modern workplace. Or, do you want to migrate to Windows 10?

Moving On to Windows 10

Whether you are in stage 1 or stage 7 of your grieving, we recommend fining your migration quickly and cost-effectively. You don’t need to invest in new hardware or infrastructure if you choose to solve it with software.

Using a Software-Defined Enterprise Content Delivery Network (SD ECDN), businesses can exponentially decrease the bandwidth load on their network, without replacing or updating their hardware infrastructure – all within a matter of days. So, wipe away your tears, stop delaying the inevitable and begin the move. With Kollective for ConfigMgr , your business can maximize the speed of software distribution, streamline your Windows 10 migration and future proof against ever-increasing system updates.

Solving it with software will get you there faster and more easily than any other option and before you know it, all the pain and anger and sadness and fear surrounding the move to a new operating system will be behind you.

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​Branch Cache Vs. Peer Cache Vs. Delivery Optimization Vs. Distribution Points

branch cache

Throughout the various iterations of ConfigMgr (SCCM), we have seen numerous technologies integrated into the management platform. These integrations were either directly or indirectly built to help administrators tackle the challenges presented when managing thousands of devices in an enterprise at scale.

The current wave of these which I want to talk about are primarily aimed at addressing 3 critical areas:

  1. Efficient deployment and management of Windows devices
  2. Mechanisms to streamline existing ConfigMgr infrastructure
  3. Effective utilization of WAN bandwidth

So firstly, why do we need to think or address these areas?

Organisations are often more globally dispersed with 10’s if not 100’s of offices spread throughout different regions. These remote offices put an ever-increasing strain on the infrastructure and networks required to operate in these scenarios. ConfigMgr is a scalable solution, however, in the past this would typically mean that IT departments would continue to deploy Distribution Points to each of the regional offices to provide management and Software deployment services for endpoints at each of these locations. The issue becomes that this approach can frequently introduce just as many problems for IT as it intends to solve, thus increasing the infrastructure footprint when organisations are generally looking to reduce infrastructure and move away from on-prem services and solutions. Finally, if you don’t deploy the Distribution Point infrastructure and perhaps opt for remote software deployment services, then this will inevitably only increase the strain on organisations Wide Area Network (WAN) links often causing congestion with a whole host of application and business services all fighting for a piece of the available (and sometimes limited) bandwidth. This ultimately, doesn’t help IT or the business drive efficiencies.

Keeping pace with new trends

One key area that brings this topic into sharp focus has been the trend of the “as a Service” (aaS) model, and specifically Windows 10. Windows 10 is delivered leveraging the Windows as a Service (WaaS) model. Unlike Operating Systems of the past that would have a pre-defined life-cycle and interim updates to maintain stability and security, this means that Windows 10 will be perpetually updated on an on-going basis much like we experience with other technology platforms such as our smartphones. In my opinion, this is a largely positive move as it will provides far greater control on which version(s) can exist; and by ‘exist’, I mean ‘be supported’. It enables Microsoft to introduce new features incrementally, ensuring ongoing support for technological changes can be satisfied. But, as we have seen, the operating system improvements in sophistication and complexity also means an increase in the size of updates required to service and maintain the core system. One area where this has presented a challenge in the Enterprise space is understanding how organisations will maintain this ongoing change, and a key aspect of this is the systems used to managed and maintain these systems today ConfigMgr.

As they also recognise that simply deploying more hardware isn’t going to work anymore, Microsoft has been working hard to provide alternatives to the traditional ‘just deploy more hardware’ solution. They are opting to adopt software-defined solutions to help organisations with this technology change.

That’s a good thing, right? Well… yes. However, I also believe that Microsoft is also driving these solutions in the knowledge that adopting software-defined solutions will be the most effective way for organisations to adopt and embrace a Win10 (WaaS) operating platform.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly (you decide)

From my point of view, there are now three clear alternatives to deployment of traditional infrastructure (hardware-based distribution points) and these are:

1. Branch Cache

Branch cache technology was originally introduced into the Windows Server platform as a way for file servers to cache recently accessed files providing faster load times for end-users to access files and content. More recently, this tech has also been integrated into ConfigMgr allowing administrators to leverage this caching solution for software-based content at each site where it doesn’t necessarily stack up to deploy a traditional Distribution Point. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to this method with the primary one being that this solution is largely a ‘black box’ with very few options for configuration and, more importantly. no easy way of monitoring what content is cached.


  • Easy to set-up
  • Can handle non ConfigMgr content types
  • Supports de-duplication


  • No management or reporting interface (difficult to know what content is cached)
  • Requires separate cache location for ConfigMgr for content storage (duplicated cached content)
  • Doesn’t natively support WinPE out of the box
  • Limited to Subnet based discovery broadcasts (problematic in wireless networks where broadcast may be disabled)

2. Peer Cache

Microsoft’s recent integration enables ConfigMgr clients to share content with other Peer cache enabled clients. This now utilizes the LEDBAT transport to efficiently manage network activity during a caching event to ensure that the network doesn’t become saturated when sharing content.


  • Directly integrated in ConfigMgr, so any enabled device can perform this function
  • Supports partial content download, so client can serve content as soon as the first blocks are available
  • Utilizes the efficient LEDBAT data transfer technology to reduce network congestion


  • Client peering scoping is limited to ConfigMgr client site boundary groups which can become complex to manage due to the number required and can limit peering capabilities down to smaller groups of end-points
  • ConfigMgr scheduled deployments can cause multiple end-points peering from origin sources, reducing the peering efficiency achieved

3. Delivery Optimization

Microsoft’s integrated peering solution introduced into the Windows 10 platform is a peer-to-peer client update service that uses both local and remote end-points (via the internet) to deliver Win10 updates and Windows store applications.


  • Integrated directly into the OS, easy to enable / configure
  • Standalone solution not requiring ConfigMgr integration (great for SMB’s)
  • No upfront costs


  • Only supports Win10 endpoints
  • Limited ‘use case’ for content deployment (only supports Updates and Store Apps)
  • No centralized management (no reporting or analytics)
  • No control over content
  • Requires extensive boundary configuration

No such thing as a free lunch

Now don’t get me wrong, the Microsoft tools and integrations to solve the challenge of providing efficient deliveries while reducing and simplifying your ConfigMgr infrastructure are very effective, but as you might start to see, no single solution can act as holistic solution to solve this problem. In fact, from many discussions with customers and working at the coalface on this, I have come to realise that you will most likely need to implement all these technologies in parallel as point solutions to achieve a successful outcome.

Well that’s alright. After all, they are free to use?

You have probably heard the phrase “No such thing as a free lunch” and when we are presented with this potential offer, we should be thinking “what’s the catch”?

All of us in both our professional and personal lives are offered free (at the point of use) software, services and offers. However, sometimes we need to consider ‘does free really mean free’? Often what we need to do is take a step back and examine the bigger picture to the problem we are trying to solve. If we accept free services do these have a catch and/or a drawback? When evaluating these free solutions, I recommend considering the following aspects:

  • Does the solution provide all the capabilities and features we require to address the problem?
  • Are there going to be hidden costs further down the line?
  • Is the solution going to require additional work or effort on our side?
  • Do we have enough time, knowledge and resources to support the additional effort required to manage any functional deficits?

The Toolbox Vs. the Contractor

Given the above, we can all sometimes solve a problem by ourselves utilizing a ‘Do It Yourself’ approach. In my personal life, I have been going through a house refurbishment, so I’ll use that analogy here. I have often asked myself “Do I just DIY this, or do I need to bring in the professionals?”. I go through a very similar thought process to consider the upsides and downsides to each option. Some considerations when pondering the DIY approach:

  • Up-skilling – Will I need to build my knowledge around the area of work I’m looking to take on?
  • Time – Do I have the time to invest in doing the job myself, as it will take me more time than a professional to achieve the same task?
  • Outcome – Will I be happy and/or satisfied with the result? Will it be delivered to the standard required?
  • Risk – Are there significant risks associated with undertaking the work? Would a professional with proven experience mitigate these?
  • Cost – Considering the possible mistakes and/or overlook of the previous considerations, will doing the work myself really save me money?

So, it certainly makes sense to me that we make the same evaluations in our commercial / professional lives. Yes, we can do a job ourselves, but we may not achieve the desired outcome or to an acceptable standard, and this I think is certainly true when considering the free Microsoft solutions. Do you muddle through and hope for the best outcome whilst increasing your operational overheads and perhaps not achieving your strategic goals, or do you engage and procure a premium solution that delivers all the functionality and capabilities required to ensure a successful outcome? Sometimes, letting the professionals take care of it can add immense value to your organisation by leveraging their many years of expertise and importantly delivering all the functional specifications in a single ‘one stop shop’ solution.

Closing summary

There are many options to consider when re-defining your ConfigMgr infrastructure. What is clearly apparent is that a traditional approach of simply deploying more and more Distribution Points won’t help to scale your infrastructure to meet the demands of the modern workplace, WaaS and the on-going servicing and maintenance demands these changes will make on your environment.

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To view our Partner blog, click here

​Windows 7 is Dead: Prepare for Cloud-Based Windows 10


Mark the date — on January 14, 2020, Microsoft is officially sending Windows 7 to the big server in the sky and ending included support for its popular operating system. This move will put a stop to vital security updates and patches that thousands of organizations still rely on worldwide.

Once a respectful period of mourning has been observed, businesses who don’t opt for the expensive stop gap, will have to turn their attention to migrating to the Windows 10 system, which will work in a drastically different way than before.

Moving to the ‘as a Service’ model

Described as the ‘last windows operating system’, Windows 10 will operate ‘as a Service’ with users being required to update regularly, instead of the previous process of migrating to a whole new OS every few years.

Research shows that 96% of businesses have already started the transition to Windows 10; however, making this process as quick and pain-free as possible will be crucial to IT operations.

This new ‘Windows as a Service’ model will come with a unique set of challenges. Monthly quality updates or bug fixes will normally be under 1GB; whereas bi-yearly feature updates can be up to 5GB. Due to the increased frequency and size of these updates, IT teams will have limited time for testing and distribution.

Currently, 79% of organizations don’t install updates immediately, and a further 53% wait at least a month before they’re able to install vital operating system updates across their entire network.

Tricky transitions

Simply ignoring this distribution problem could be disastrous for businesses, creating an exponential build-up of outdated machines that creates serious security liabilities. Being vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches is a risk that organizations simply cannot take in the modern era.

The nuclear option is to rip out the entire network and start from scratch. In the long term this will help with the speed of your updates, however in the short term it can cause huge disruption to your IT infrastructure — taking budget and resources away from more immediate concerns.

IT professionals need an answer to this problem that’s both cost-effective and quickly implementable.

Software to the rescue

Luckily, there is another way. Using a Software-Defined Enterprise Content Delivery Network (SD ECDN), businesses can streamline the delivery of updates for Windows 10.

In brief, a SD ECDN uses a peer-to-peer system that evenly distributes bandwidth. The higher the number of peers, the faster the network can deliver content, meaning even existing hardware can contribute to ensuring you have the crucial security patches you need for Windows 10.

And, you won’t have to overhaul the entire network. With the Kollective SD ECDN, enterprises can speed-up software distribution, smoothly transition to Windows 10 and be future-proofed against other cloud-service updates — all using your existing infrastructure.

Our software has many other benefits beyond just helping you survive the Windows 7 apocalypse, but being prepared for this critical change should be a major priority for organizations who want to keep data secure and IT services up to date in the cloud-service era.

Ciena solves software delivery headache with Kollective for ConfigMgr.

In less than 6 months, Microsoft will end included support for Windows 7. One-fifth of large enterprises have yet to complete their migration to Windows 10. Learn how to prepare for the end of Windows 7 and manage the regular cadence of Windows as a Service updates.

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To view our Partner blog, click here

Death of Windows 7: Remote Office OSD Deployments


Hopefully everyone is aware that Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 7 in 2020 . There are many blog articles and press releases pushing this point. Organizations have had a couple years of extended support, thus paying additional fees to Microsoft for security updates, but come January 14, 2020 this will no longer be an option.  

In a recent surveys, most organizations claim they have already started their migrations to Windows 10. Many companies are already using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to manage their endpoints, so utilizing ConfigMgr’s OSD capabilities to migrate to Windows 10 is the most supported and best documented strategy.

IT groups may have started their Windows 10 migration plan by first upgrading their home and regional offices because of strong IT presence, and fast connectivity to local ConfigMgr distribution points. But what about remote edge locations? Organizations with many small locations with few clients such as banks, retail stores, or small government offices may find it challenging to deploy Windows 10 to the edge. The challenges of deploying Windows 10 to these locations may include:

Poor Connectivity – small locations with less than 20 clients may not warrant fast network connection for day to day operationsTransferring gigabytes of content to these locations for operating system images, driver packages, and even monthly patches can put a heavy strain on the network and cause a negative impact to the business.

Cost – as the amount of data being delivered to remote locations is significant, IT organizations may have to spend more on connectivity when normal daily operations require less bandwidth. If it is decided that installing ConfigMgr distribution points would reduce the network impact, companies have to weigh the cost benefits of server licensing, hardware, and continual monitoring and maintenance of those DPs. If there are hundreds or even thousands of locations to support, it may not be worth it. 

Lack of Local IT Staff – some small locations such as retail outlets may not have access to a dedicated IT staff. Scheduling visits to do deployments can be expensive and difficult to coordinate. Although Configuration Manager can fully automate a Windows 10 deployment, to avoid downtime, the OSD process must be foolproof. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a foolproof OSD scenario as hardware failures may occur. 

Considering those challenges, what options does an organization have to speed up the deployment of Windows 10 to these small remote offices? 

Hardware Refreshes – as computing hardware gets close to end of life, they will need to be swapped out. Windows 10 can be loaded on the new hardware and shipped to the remote office. This option does reduce the technical challenges of doing OSD in the field, but IT presence may still be required to provision the new equipment.

Sneakernet – companies can deploy field IT, but to facilitate the OSD process they will have to travel with a removable drive to manually execute Windows 10 task sequences on individual systems. This is another high touch option that likely requires additional planning to update the removable drives when needed as well as  dealing with the travel logistics of visiting each location. This is a relatively high cost solution depending on how many locations need to be serviced, and how many field IT representatives are available. 

ConfigMgr Distribution Points  it can be expensive providing OSD services to remote locations. OSD content can be delivered over the network once to a local distribution point in which the clients would not need to download large files over the network. Realistically, many IT organizations choose not to deploy distribution points to small offices. The costs associated with maintaining a large amount of distribution points at hundreds or thousands of remote sites can be very expensive. Add to that, the licensing costs for Windows Server and hardware costs that include maintenance of those physical devices. Administrative costs are subtler but still daunting as each content distribution has to be executed and monitored, and if there are sites which are on the other end of high latency connections, there will likely be failures which will cause delays and potentially impact the deployment schedule.  

PeertoPeer Technology – aIT organization may decide to forego the implementation of hundreds of additional distribution points and implement a peertopeer solution. Not all peering options are the same. Microsoft’s native Configuration Manager Peer Cache solution does solve the problem of delivering the content to a remote location once, but it requires additional administrative overhead. The most obvious issue is that an administrator would have to effectively pre-seed the task sequence content to the remote location, but this would be required for any peer-to-peer OSD delivery.  

The real pain is continuing to maintain boundaries and boundary groups. Configuration Manager uses boundary groups to determine who to peer with, so the network topology needs to be continually maintained for optimal peering. Kollective for ConfigMgr  cloud based peer-to-peer solution doesn’t use boundary groups or any other network topology mapping to determine the best peers. Kollective’s mesh based peering technology uses real time network mapping to automatically determine the best peers and refines the topology over time. Since ConfigMgr content is stored in the cloud, remote edge locations with only Internet connections can retrieve content quickly, transferring the content only once, regardless of how many clients are requesting it at a given time. 

Regardless what type of business you run, or how your network is defined, it is vital that you protect your business with the most updated OS and that you have a plan in place to manage the reoccurring updates that come with WaaS. I hope this article helps you understand the challenges of deploying Windows 10 to remote offices and provides some options to help you optimize deployment.


How today’s enterprises are preparing for tomorrow’s security disaster

Microsoft will officially end support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, yet 43% of enterprises are still running the outdated platform. Learn how far enterprise businesses are in their migrations to Windows 10, the challenges they are facing and why IT leaders need a software distribution strategy to prepare for WaaS.

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