Flexera Outlines Tools for Windows XP Migrations and App Tracking
Flexera Software this week updated its FlexNet Connect tool and described other solutions that can be used for Windows XP migrations.
FlexNet Connect is mostly aimed at independent software vendors, but it can also be used by enterprise software developers and IT pros to keep track of homemade apps. It collects "anonymized" application-use data that is valuable to developers, including application logs or crash reports. It also can track application deployments by end users, as well the security of those apps and update status, via an updated API. The product, which is part of the FlexNet Producer Suite, also works with a new cloud-based management portal that IT pros can use to assess application updates across distributed locations.
Tracking applications is an important step in Windows XP migrations. In addition to the FlexNet Connect tool, Flexera has a few other solutions that can be used to address Windows XP migration pain points.
"We too have heard that many organizations are not completed with their Windows XP migrations, especially the very large organizations where the environments are more complex," said Steve Schmidt, vice president of corporate development at Flexera Software, in a phone interview.
Specifically, Flexera, a privately held company based in Schaumburg, Ill., has two application readiness tools that can be used to address the steps required for a Windows XP migration.
"And those steps are ones that we have plenty of documentation on, and they include inventory and rationalization, assessing compatibility, planning, fixing and packaging, and deployment," Schmidt explained. "The solutions, AdminStudio Suite and Workflow Manager, are solutions that help to automate this process and allow [users] to make sure that their applications are going to be working effectively in the new environment."
AdminStudio is an MSI packaging tool, while Workflow Manager is an IT process tool that can be used to communicate the progress of Windows migrations and virtualization efforts. The company also has an App Portal solution that enables self-provisioning by end users. It works with the FlexNet Manager Suite to keep track of application lifecycles within an enterprise, including application licensing lookups, according to Schmidt.
The products also work in conjunction with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager or other software vendor management tools.
"AdminStudio works through the steps in the application readiness process and then delivers the applications that have been packaged up, along with additional data about the application, to System Center [Configuration Manager], or to other deployment systems," Schmidt explained. "And the App Portal product, that allows for the applications requests to come in and the approval workflow, also runs on top of System Center and other deployment solutions. And, in addition, the FlexNet Manager Suite, that provides the software license optimization, works in conjunction with System Center and other deployment systems to gather the baseline inventory data and then provide another layer of analysis and business intelligence about the situation in the licensing state."
Organizations doing Windows XP migrations may be getting bogged down because they lack the automated tools, according to Schmidt.
"One type of problem that we've heard people articulate is that the process [of Windows XP migration] seems to be taking quite a bit of time," he said. "If they're trying to do this manually, or with a limited set of tools, what they find is they can move a lot faster if they have a common process for those applications and then implement solutions that automate it. Especially larger organizations have many applications to think about, and recognizing that applications are core to the migration process is a first step that is very important. To accelerate the timeline and free up time for strategic initiatives, they ought to be looking for ways to automate."
Despite frequent talk that IT pros may face doing a lot of manual update work with Windows XP migrations, either by replacing hardware or by updating the software on an end user device, Schmidt was optimistic about customer results using Flexera's tools on the automation front.
"We do see that customers are having success with the solutions that automate the inventory process, that automate the testing process, that automate the update and the presentation of the file packages to end users using the solutions that we've been able to bring to market," he said. "Everyone is in a unique situation, but more often than not, there are quite a number of steps that can be automated."
Flexera's position is that application usage management is a continuous process, rather than just a one-time event associated with a Windows XP migration.
"This is process that should continue for organizations because their applications are so strategic and the investments are so high," Schmidt explained. "You want to be in a constant state of app readiness."
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.