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July 23, 2018 Ross Gangemi

What’s your strategy? Olikka Windows Servicing

Windows Servicing – An Overview

Windows Servicing is something all IT professionals need to understand and plan for. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Microsoft has changed how new features and fixes are delivered to Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft has even aligned releases with Office 365 ProPlus.  This new approach is called Windows Servicing and effectively means more changes more often rather than one large change every three years.  To align Windows 10 and Office 365 releases, Microsoft has adopted a common terminology:

  • Semi-Annual Channel – What was previously referred to as current branch is now known as Sem-Annual Channel Targeted SAC-T, while what was known as Current Branch for Business it is now known as Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)
  • Long-Term Servicing Channel – The Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB) is now known as Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

Semi-Annual Channel is recommended by Microsoft to maintain currency with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, whilst LTSC is typically reserved for specialized systems, such as Point of Sale systems, ATMS or production line machines, that should be updated far less frequently.

Windows servicing consists of both feature and quality updates. In Windows 10, feature updates are new versions of Windows, which introduce new features and capabilities in Windows.  Microsoft typically releases two feature updates per year. Whilst quality updates include a Cumulative Update (CU) which, as the name suggests, includes all previous month’s updates.  Quality Updates are published every month and exist for a limited period for any Windows version.

Each feature release will be serviced for 18 months from the date of release.  So, if you are in the process of deploying a feature release that is 6 months old, you effectively have 12 months of servicing left, before you need to update your fleet to a new release.

In recent months we have found that Windows Servicing is top of mind for most of our customers.  These are typically organisations that deployed Windows 10 within the last 12 months and are now aware of the task involved to remain current.

So here is some guidance we offer all of our customers when it comes to Windows Servicing:

Typical Approach to Windows Servicing

  • Have a servicing plan or strategy. This is by far the most important aspect of Windows servicing. A well thought out plan is very important to ensure you are making the most of the options available to you, whilst also ensuring that Windows servicing aligns to your business calendar.  It’s no good trying to deploy a feature update during a busy period, or change freeze period.
  • Application and Hardware compatibility analysis – Ensure your apps and hardware are compatible with the latest feature update of Windows, typically hardware vendors release new drivers in anticipation of a Windows feature release
  • Packaging and automating update – There are various tools available to automate Windows feature updates, such as WSUS and Config Manager. However, we find that at certain times additional steps will need to be added as part of a feature update deployment, this may include updating hardware drivers, or updating Office Proplus during the update.
  • Updating supporting infrastructure and systems. Microsoft releases new versions Config Manager two to three times per year. Microsoft highly recommends updating SCCM versions regularly to ensure they can support new versions of Windows.  New Active Directory GPO templates with each new feature release of Windows.

Therefore, it is necessary that a thorough servicing strategy is needed. The service strategy has to take into consideration many factors such as; business calendar of the organization, the testing and release process, the deployment of cadence updates, and lastly the deployment approach.

Olikka offers a fully managed Windows 10 servicing experience. The servicing strategy is suited for organizations at various stages of their Windows 10 journey. The company offers services in the following areas-

The Olikka Approach

Windows Servicing Advisory/Strategy – Windows 10 Support Strategy

  • Understand the business and technology needs
  • Assess the readiness of existing systems
  • Implement Windows Analytics to better understand readiness
  • Educate and advise through Windows Servicing Workshops
  • Finalize the strategy
  • Help the organizations to stay on track and adapt comfortably to changes

Windows Servicing Update – Configuration or automation of Windows 10 Servicing

  • Implementing uplifts, upgrades, and new methods of working
  • Update SCCM to the latest version
  • Configure GPOs to support the latest version of Windows
  • Configure SCCM to support servicing approach
  • Update your Windows 10 task sequence to support Windows 10 Servicing
  • Maintain reliability and consistency
  • Support BAU issues

Olikka also has an intuitive software offering called DeployMe which interacts with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Analytics, Active Directory, and Office 365 to provide an opt-in Windows 10 upgrade and servicing program for enterprise end user.

Windows Servicing Premium – Premium Windows servicing support/management

  • Manage incidents 24/7
  • Proactively assess the functionality of critical systems
  • Work with vendors on behalf of the users to resolve issues

Olikka has in-depth experience developing end user computer architecture along with patching and servicing strategies for customers. The company’s proven methodology for Windows Servicing ensures that updates are deployed only after they are tested and validated so that there is minimal impact on both the staff and the business.

So, stop worrying any further about Windows 10 Servicing. Olikka’s service plans will take care of all the complexities and will ensure great business results.

Get in touch today!