IT Solutions Provider SWC Featured In Crain's Chicago Business
Microsoft announced yesterday it will unveil the latest version of its Windows operating system, Windows 8, at an event in New York City on Oct. 25. That means the beginning of a busy season for Oak Brook-based SWC Technology Partners, which will oversee deployment of the new operating system. In addition, many of SWC’s customers are considering buying Microsoft’s new iPad rival, the Surface tablet.
SWC president Bob Knott, VP Elliott Baretz and solutions practice leader Pete Lee tell Silicon City how they and their customers are approaching the release.
Crain’s: What’s your sense of how many of your customers will make the jump to Windows 8 relatively soon?
Elliott Baretz: We’ve learned that the general process in terms of rolling out Windows 8 is to take a hybrid approach. In the past when organizations looked at desktop rollouts, they looked at them in all-sum moves—big, broad swaths. But with Windows 8, there’s an option to deploy that operating system to a certain profile or demographic within your organization while keeping other aspects of the business on Windows 7 or another former version of Windows. That provides a lot of flexibility, and it’s not overwhelming. We surveyed our customers, and more than 50% of the respondents said they would be deploying up to 25% of their environments with Windows 8 in the next year. That indicates we’ll be pretty busy with Windows 8 deployments.
Crain’s: What’s driving that interest?
EB: It’s this notion of the consumerization effect. In the past few years, inside corporations, you’ve had this dynamic where executives came into the IT world and said ‘I’m going to get an iPad. I’m doing this.’ And IT had to support that. But there were some compromises along the way in doing that because iPad didn’t have the same security or strength in identity rights management strength that the Surface or Windows 8 has. But now with Windows 8 IT will be able to give that experience to the executives. People are looking at this interface and thinking, ‘This is pretty cool. This will give us that user experience we think is going to rival that of the iPad.’
Bob Knott: If I’m the CIO, I’m going to find Windows 8 really attractive because my IT department is going to find this a lot easier to maintain than iPad, which is kind of a renegade type device. For a larger organization, maintenance and management of all the devices you have out there is a big issue. Let alone having to deal with security, updates and patching. That’s where Microsoft has a really strong hand to play. And even though Microsoft is behind in terms of applications and a marketplace, historically, Microsoft has done really well in working with its developer community [to produce applications].
EB: So the approach that organizations seem to be taking is that executives and certain other populations will get Windows 8 devices, and the remaining populations will remain on Windows 7. And there’s no compromise to security or anything else. I think that approach is pretty noteworthy.
Crain’s: Do you think this will generate enough buzz that non-executives will begin clamoring for the new operating system or a Surface tablet?
EB: That’s a crystal ball thing, but I do. The iPad demonstrated that there’s this real viral effect to the consumer interface. If the new Windows 8 interface does what it’s supposed to do, I think it’s going to create that viral effect. I think that’s real. I also think we’re a couple years into people understanding value of that consumer interface, so it’s not like Microsoft needs to convince people why that’s a good, productive thing.
Crain’s: What aspect of deployment will be most challenging?
Pete Lee: When it comes to deployment, now that you’re going to be able to manage your mobile devices and your tablets as well as desktops and laptops. So the main challenge is being able to deploy those mobile devices and tablets similarly to how you deploy your desktops and workstations.
The nice thing is that, compared to when we dealt with Windows 7 deployment a couple years ago, back then there had been a buildup [of customers not satisfied with their current operating systems] because Windows XP was older and Windows Vista was not meeting the needs of organizations. So people needed to jump on Windows 7 right away. With Windows 8, we can plan everything out properly and make sure the new operating system meets our customers’ business objectives.
This article, “Riding the Windows 8 Wave” originally appeared online at Crain’s Chicago Business.
SWC Technology Partners
SWC is a full-service IT solutions provider headquartered just West of Chicago in Oak Brook, Illinois. SWC specializes in the technology solutions that match the business needs of midmarket organizations some of which include, Business Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Microsoft SharePoint and Virutalization.