XP Deadline Haunts IT

Many companies must deal with the looming XP and Office migration crisis before fully turning to other key tasks cited in Gartner's annual top-10 IT issues list.

At the same time IT executives must start evaluating new technologies to keep data center infrastructure and operations up to date, the hard deadline for migrating thousands of users from Windows XP and Office 2003 is approaching fast.

While desktop operating system migration ranked No. 7 on Gartner Inc.'s latest list of the top 10 issues facing corporate CIOs, Gartner analyst David Cappuccio indicated that for many companies, it has become the most critical short-term need.

Microsoft has said it will stop supporting Window XP and Office 2003 in April 2014.

"You may find yourself in a situation where these migrations become the dominant projects in your organizations over the next few months," Cappuccio said.

Matt Holmes, systems manager for Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., said Windows migration is "definitely" an issue.

"Over the summer, we just had a round of 'firefighting,' where we had a bunch of Windows XP SP2 machines that had to get upgraded to Service Pack 3 because of end-of-life support," said Holmes. "I think it kind of snuck up on the desktop support folks."

The college is now planning to migrate its users to Windows 7, he added.

Gartner noted that while IT executives must deal with the Windows and Office deadlines, they also need to decide how to address the myriad longer-term issues that will transform data center operations.

Gartner's Top IT Trends

Rank Trend
1. Virtualization. "The data center of the future is going to be completely virtualized," Cappuccio predicted.
2. Dealing with data. Data is expected to grow by 800% over the next five years, and 80% of it will be unstructured.
3. Energy and green IT. This includes better automation and monitoring.
4. Unified communications and collaboration. This will be especially important as younger workers are hired.
5. Thinking horizontally. Companies need IT pros with business smarts.
6. Open-source collaboration. External networks will emerge.
7. Windows XP migration. Vendors will cease testing their apps on it.
8. Computing and data center density. This will be helped by the doubling of cores every two years and the expanded use of liquid cooling.
9. Cloud computing. Users will shift more services to the cloud.
10. Fabric computing. Server, storage and network systems will be integrated.

The trends in IT infrastructure and operations on Gartner's annual top-10 list, released last week at the research firm's Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, mostly involve the long-term shrinking of data centers as companies turn to cloud computing.

Source: Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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