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Continuous Update Models: Good for Developers, Bad for IT Departments

Greg Lambert
April 4, 2020
5 minutes

Desktop migrations used to be a big thing: maybe kind of a heroic effort, with sacrifices in time, money and broken systems during deployment. Due to the high costs, they were avoided as much as possible. Following a minimal cadence of once every 3-4 years led to desperate needs to refresh hardware and software.

Given the pace of change in the IT industry, 3-4 years is a long time, sometimes a whole generation of change. Therefore making updates, upgrades and changes a high-risk endeavour (meaning it was expensive). Due to the high-risk of making huge changes to many platforms at the same time, a model of continuous improvement has gradually taken hold in the IT industry. Evergreen platforms (continuously updated systems) now include some of these key elements:

  • Rapid release cycles.
  • Component-based deliveries (rather than a single monolithic system).
  • User feedback is expected and required on a regular basis.
  • Change is continuous but controlled, with roll-backs and back-outs expected and regularly employed.
  • Transparency and reporting includes user updates to changes (both forward and backward).

How continuous update cycles work

In 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 and announced that it would be the final version of their famous operating system.  This did not mean that Microsoft was exiting the OS game, but rather that it would be moving to a continuous update cycle going forward. Rather than release large new updates every few years, they would make very frequent incremental changes. This would allow them to stay ahead of critical updates while also staying laser-focused on the current version of Windows.

mobius cruising

This type of move had been done before. Microsoft was inspired, in part, by Apple’s macOS, which has been OS X since 2001. Although Apple does still make yearly updates with new features, the core OS does not change as much as it would have before. In 2013, Adobe moved its famous creative suite into the same business model with Creative Cloud. In this case, users must subscribe to the software rather than buying it once and owning it. In exchange, they get regular updates and are always running the latest and greatest version.

With today’s rapid release and update cycle, IT departments welcome the benefits, which include:

  • New features and rapid bug resolution
  • Improved security models through faster patching
  • Better hardware/software compatibility
  • More flexible deployment options
  • Lower costs, through lower-risk changes

Chaos lurks where change hides

The continuous update cycle is not all good news though. Although bugs are fixed faster and features are added more regularly, some problems can still arise. As old bugs are fixed, new ones may be added. Compatibility issues between all of the various software that an organization uses can become a problem much quicker than before. Rapid changes can lead to the following issues:

  • User “change fatigue”
  • Every change could lead to potential conflicts or cause other problems
  • With many changes, tracking and documentation are more difficult and more important
  • Continuous change or “evergreen” models require different mind-sets and skills sets

Now IT departments have to deal with constant updates from Windows that may or may not be fully compatible with the constant updates from the hundreds of applications that are in use at your company. The problem gets compounded even further when you are using virtualization software like App-V to handle the software distribution in your business. The number of moving parts is increasing and they are moving faster than ever. Keeping everything in sync while minimizing the types of bugs that can degrade the efficiency of your operation requires more time and skill from IT departments than it has in the past.

Many IT departments struggle to keep up with these ever-changing pieces of software. Since many of these updates contain critical security patches, it is not practical to just freeze everything at a given version number. This is such a concern that Microsoft makes it difficult to stop the automatic updates. So, how does a busy IT department handle the extra workload that our new continuous update model reality has thrust upon them?

Resolving those difficulties

The most practical way for an already overstressed IT department to handle constant updates of hundreds of applications is to employ an automation solution. With automation, your staff will be able to test all of the applications that they need against different combinations of Windows and virtualization software. This will allow you to know much quicker which updates of which applications will cause problems so that your team can work around any potential issues before they become problems for your business that take much longer to fix.

Thankfully, there is an automation solution out there that was designed for just this task. Application Readiness can perform automatic application assessment, remediation and conversion of an enterprise’s entire portfolio of applications, all in the cloud. With automation at your disposal, you’ll enjoy:

  • Future modelling of “What if” scenarios before deployments.
  • Pre-flight checks for application and patch deployments reduce difficult to resolve application issues.
  • Automated documentation delivers a complete history of all changes.
  • An automated tool-set once configured, delivers consistent results that are compliant with best practices, security models and deployment guidelines. Every time!

About Readiness

Because Readiness works in the cloud, you’ll be able to manage your entire application portfolio right from your browser, even if you are on a mobile device. Test all of your applications automatically against all versions of Windows from XP through to the latest build of Windows 10. You’ll know which apps have compatibility issues and how to resolve them.

When Readiness finds issues, it can automatically fix most of them. Whether a poorly written MSI needs repairing or settings need to be tuned to perform best on the target system, Readiness has your back. It doesn’t stop at Windows either. Readiness will ensure that all of your applications run flawlessly on virtualization software such as App-V, Citrix, VMWare, and more.

To learn more about how Readiness can make the continuous update model painless for your IT department, contact us today!

Greg Lambert

CEO, Product Evangelist
Greg Lambert is the CEO and product evangelist for Application Readiness Inc. Greg is a co-founder of ChangeBASE and has considerable experience with application packaging technology and its deployment.

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