The NHS Challenge

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By Mat Clothier, CEO, Cloudhouse

A Freedom of Information request has revealed how the UK’s NHS is at threat from a dangerous dependency on Windows 7, once Microsoft withdraws support for the operating system on January 14 next year (2020).

Among the 77 NHS trusts that responded to the FOI request, more than 231,000 devices were still on Windows 7, compared with 123,000 on Windows 10. The survey also found that Windows XP is still heavily in use along with a ragbag of other systems.

Unless NHS chiefs wants a repeat of the the WannaCry cyber-attack of 2017, it’s time for them to use technology such application compatibility packaging so they can safely migrate their many thousands of applications to Windows 10 – Microsoft’s latest operating system.

The task is an urgent one. Continued reliance on Windows 7 means much of the NHS will be vulnerable to cyber-attack once Microsoft stops security patching in January. It was unpatched Windows operating systems such as Windows 7 that allowed the 2017 WannaCry ransomware crypto-worm to infect 230,000 computers around the globe, with huge impact on day-to-day healthcare operations in the NHS.

Overcoming incompatibility of legacy NHS applications with Windows 10
The nub of the NHS difficulty is the known incompatibility of legacy applications with Windows 10 and other state-of-the-art operating systems, when migrated through conventional means.

Applications built for legacy systems can frequently fail to function on Windows 10 (or in the cloud on Windows Server 16 or 19), suffering impairment from regular security updates. Understandably, NHS IT chiefs are reluctant to migrate to Windows 10 if it risks downtime in a diagnostic unit. Waiting time targets hang over everyone in the NHS as does the duty of care. Many applications will be embedded in Windows 7 and are likely to have been built for specific purposes relating to the administrative or clinical needs of individual units, trusts or groups of trusts.

The position is complicated by the extreme sensitivity of patient data, the lack of IT funding, the prevalence of long-term deals and the NHS’s poor record on major IT projects. The huge size of the NHS and its datasets adds to the complexity.

Costly alternatives
The NHS may get extended support for Windows 7 from Microsoft but that does not solve the long-term problem and will eventually become too costly.

Recoding and refactoring of bespoke applications is one route, but is time-consuming, expensive and often requires expertise. Virtualisation has also proved to be inadequate, producing applications that only perform a narrow range of their original functions. While virtualisation simplifies deployment and addresses some application-to-application conflicts, it does not resolve compatibility problems between applications built for Windows 7 and Windows 10.

The NHS needs application compatibility packaging
What the NHS should grasp is how application compatibility packaging overcomes the significant problems of migration of applications from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The Cloudhouse compatibility package, for example, will lift and shift the application from its underlying platform to Windows 10, so that if functions perfectly without recoding or refactoring. The technology isolates run times and enables 32-bit apps written for Windows 7 to be compatible with 64-bit desktop systems such as Windows 10. Applications do not conflict with other applications on the desktop.

Compatibility packaging also eliminates the need for repackaging and retesting, enabling applications to deploy to the latest, supported Windows platforms, including those in the cloud. For the NHS with the great sensitivity of its vast datasets, this is a huge advantage, future-proofing applications and workloads, and rendering them secure. Once applications have migrated to Windows 10 on desktops or in the cloud, they receive regular security patches without any compromise of anti-virus and firewall protection.
Evergreening the NHS IT

The NHS’s continued dependency on Windows 7 is a dangerous vulnerability that threatens the quality of healthcare and treatment for millions of UK citizens. Application compatibility packaging will resolve almost all these difficulties and has the potential to future-proof the entire NHS. It’s time for NHS IT chiefs to give it very serious consideration.

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    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Commercials
    How much does Cloudhouse cost? Down Arrow

    Cloudhouse costs are split into two elements – the licensing required to deploy application compatibility packages, and the professional services needed to create the application compatibility packages.

    Licensing is offered on a per user basis for desktop applications and a per server basis for server applications. There are discounts available based on volumes.

    Professional Services costs are dependent on the nature and complexity of the application. We quote a cost for packaging once we have been able to see the application, or portfolio of applications.

    Contact us here with your requirements and we will provide you with a quote.

    Packaging and Maintaining Applications
    Who is responsible for packaging desktop and server applications? Down Arrow

    Cloudhouse provide the Professional Services to package applications.

    Requirements for Test and Development Down Arrow

    Cloudhouse recommend packaged applications are tested in the standard UAT environments used for natively installed applications, or applications packaged in App-V. The more representative the test environment is of the live environment, the greater the chance of finding any issues prior to go-live.

    Updating Applications Down Arrow

    Service packs and updates can be applied to the applications in a package using the Editor, refer to Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers which describes how a new snapshot is created for the update, and how it is then applied to the package.

    Operations
    Who manages Cloudhouse operationally within an account? Down Arrow

    Cloudhouse recommends the same team who manage the operations of native apps.

    Automation and Deployment Down Arrow

    Applications running in Application Compatibility Packages can be deployed, and managed with same tools, or scripts used to deploy natively installed applications e.g. SCCM, InTune, LAN Desk. Please refer to Supported 3rd Party Products and Versions for details.

    Support
    How do we know which of our departments/ teams should support the Package? Down Arrow

    The Cloudhouse Package does not include OS components, it only contains the packaged application plus Cloudhouse components. Cloudhouse recommend the same team that is responsible for supporting applications packaged with App-V, or delivered as natively installed applications, support Cloudhouse Application Compatibility Containers.

    Documentation for Service Desk & Service Management Down Arrow

    Full documentation is made available to Cloudhouse partners and customers as required.

    Training
    Do Cloudhouse provide training? Down Arrow

    Cloudhouse offers a full packaging service that can scale to meet any requirement. In the event, however, that a partner wishes to offer application compatibility packaging as part of a wider solution, Cloudhouse will work with that partner. Please contact us here for details.

    Wave goodbye to the emerging problems of legacy Windows systems

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    Make no mistake – buying Extended Security Updates (ESUs) from Microsoft does NOT mean you are supported!

    February 27, 2020 – Frustrating niggles and issues are emerging with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 now that they are no longer supported by Microsoft, writes Cloudhouse Founder and CEO, Mat Clothier.

    Among the issues that have appeared since support officially ended in the middle of January 2020, some Windows 7 users have reported being unable to shut the system down, while others have found they cannot see their documents folder in Explorer. And a fix issued by Microsoft to resolve a wallpaper bug in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 is also now reportedly rendering some systems unbootable!

    While there is a history of Microsoft quietly resolving bugs just after it withdraws support, the fact is that from now on, users of legacy systems are very largely on their own. This should be very worrying for any enterprise that is still running Windows 7 or which has applications on Server 2008/2008 R2.

    Unsupported operating systems attract hackers

    Without support, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 will fast become magnets for hackers , aware that any enterprise using these systems now has a serious point of vulnerability.

    The latter especially will be targeted by cyber-criminals who are aware of its popularity amongst many large organisations.

    As time goes on, the lack of updates will seriously impair the operational viability of Server 2008 R2.

    Extended security updates only cover your bare minimum

    The option being touted by Microsoft is for enterprises to buy themselves time by subscribing to the company’s Extended Security Updates programme.

    This will provide Security Updates in exchange for fees that will increase each year until the scheme expires in 2023. This may sound attractive, but although there will be security updates, they will only cover “Critical and/or Important security updates”.

    Any organisation thinking they are getting extended support rather than just some security updates, is misguided and we are already witnessing the glitches and issues just a few weeks after support ended on January 14 2020.

    Time for enterprises to think again

    It is because of this that we have effectively reached a watershed in OS and app compatibility.

    Enterprise-level organisations with critical applications on legacy Windows systems should now make a concerted effort to move them into the cloud, onto modern systems in their data centres, or to Windows 10.

    For many these moves are laden with risk, updating a platform while maintaining critical system availability is not to be undertaken lightly and consequently simply not been completed. These systems include everything from accounting to inventory and supply chain management software, to ERP, human resources, sales and promotions applications and are often incompatible with Windows 10 and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 run by the major cloud providers proving to be a real stumbling block to progress.

    Incompatibility between application libraries and operating systems also remains a severe problem. Applications built for legacy systems often fail to function on Windows 10 or in the cloud on Windows Server 2016 or 2019. Legacy applications moved on to Windows 10 can often be impaired by its regular security updates.

    These dangers are sometimes felt to be insurmountable. Virtualisation and layering solutions are often promoted but can create applications that only partially fulfil their original functions. While virtualisation simplifies deployment and addresses some application-to-application conflicts, it fails to resolve compatibility problems between the application and the underlying platform.

    Application compatibility packaging provides worry-free migration

    Enterprises now need to free themselves from the past and adopt more advanced technologies such as application compatibility packaging. This enables back-office applications to migrate to the platforms deployed by cloud-providers such as AWS, Google and Azure. It is an approach that lifts and shifts the application and its underlying environment to the new system, allowing the application to fully function without recoding or refactoring. Applications do not conflict with other applications on the desktop or server.

    Deploying applications on to new operating systems almost always requires repackaging and retesting the application, which can take teams hours or days. However, compatibility packaging means applications only need to be packaged once. A redirection and isolation engine ensures applications can be deployed to the latest, supported Windows platforms, no matter whether they are running in an on-premises data centre or in the cloud. It abstracts the application from the underlying operating system, also preparing it for Windows-as-a-Service.

    By enabling applications to run on today’s secure and supported platforms that receive regular security patches, administrators secure their organisations, it achieves the aim of freeing them from the threats and insecurities that will forever bedevil continued reliance on legacy systems such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2.

    At a time of great change, when the pressures of digital transformation make cloud-migration a near-necessity for many enterprises, having peace-of-mind about the smooth operation and optimisation of critical applications is a huge advantage.

      Cloudhouse needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. See our Privacy Policy for details.

      Load More

      FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

      Commercials
      How much does Cloudhouse cost? Down Arrow

      Cloudhouse costs are split into two elements – the licensing required to deploy application compatibility packages, and the professional services needed to create the application compatibility packages.

      Licensing is offered on a per user basis for desktop applications and a per server basis for server applications. There are discounts available based on volumes.

      Professional Services costs are dependent on the nature and complexity of the application. We quote a cost for packaging once we have been able to see the application, or portfolio of applications.

      Contact us here with your requirements and we will provide you with a quote.

      Packaging and Maintaining Applications
      Who is responsible for packaging desktop and server applications? Down Arrow

      Cloudhouse provide the Professional Services to package applications.

      Requirements for Test and Development Down Arrow

      Cloudhouse recommend packaged applications are tested in the standard UAT environments used for natively installed applications, or applications packaged in App-V. The more representative the test environment is of the live environment, the greater the chance of finding any issues prior to go-live.

      Updating Applications Down Arrow

      Service packs and updates can be applied to the applications in a package using the Editor, refer to Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers which describes how a new snapshot is created for the update, and how it is then applied to the package.

      Operations
      Who manages Cloudhouse operationally within an account? Down Arrow

      Cloudhouse recommends the same team who manage the operations of native apps.

      Automation and Deployment Down Arrow

      Applications running in Application Compatibility Packages can be deployed, and managed with same tools, or scripts used to deploy natively installed applications e.g. SCCM, InTune, LAN Desk. Please refer to Supported 3rd Party Products and Versions for details.

      Support
      How do we know which of our departments/ teams should support the Package? Down Arrow

      The Cloudhouse Package does not include OS components, it only contains the packaged application plus Cloudhouse components. Cloudhouse recommend the same team that is responsible for supporting applications packaged with App-V, or delivered as natively installed applications, support Cloudhouse Application Compatibility Containers.

      Documentation for Service Desk & Service Management Down Arrow

      Full documentation is made available to Cloudhouse partners and customers as required.

      Training
      Do Cloudhouse provide training? Down Arrow

      Cloudhouse offers a full packaging service that can scale to meet any requirement. In the event, however, that a partner wishes to offer application compatibility packaging as part of a wider solution, Cloudhouse will work with that partner. Please contact us here for details.

      The True Enabler of Digital Transformation

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      A Blog by Cloudhouse CTO, Nick Coleman

      Digital transformation is a major area of focus for almost every enterprise. But how can it be fully achieved when critical applications are ‘stuck’ on legacy platforms unsupported by cloud vendors?

      Ongoing support for the platforms that many applications run on is coming to an end. Enterprises relying on those applications could face disruption to budgets, business continuity, security and customer satisfaction rates.

      It is predicted that 80% of enterprises will close their traditional data centres by 2025, but in reality the number could be far lower. This is because many organisations are solely concentrating on migrating front-office applications to the cloud. The back-office applications on which the whole business depends must also be carefully considered.

      Impending end-of-life deadlines are driving urgency around cloud migration projects. Microsoft has set a January 14, 2020, end-of-support deadline for both Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and 2008R2. Enterprises in a hurry to complete application migration before end-of-support deadlines may wrongly feel they have to leave critical middle-tier and back-end applications behind because there is no reliable way of migrating them successfully. Then they risk being locked into costly contracts, potentially with multiple technology providers.

      An evergreen solution

      Cloudhouse’s expertise in application compatibility packaging lifts those middle and back-end applications from their legacy environments and transposing them successfully into any existing cloud system.

      Application compatibility packaging is a viable alternative to virtualisation which is often pushed as a possible solution. Yet the reality is that while virtualisation can solve some conflicts between applications and make deployment more straightforward, it cannot solve all of the compatibility issues between applications and cloud-providers’ systems.

      Advanced application compatibility packaging technology avoids the need for complex, time-consuming and costly recoding or refactoring. It can take as little as a week, meaning applications can be migrated to cloud well ahead of end-of-life deadlines. A further advantage over virtualisation is complete control over packaging while enabling the redirection, isolation and compatibility required to successfully migrate incompatible applications into any cloud system.

      Enterprises benefit from peace of mind gained by knowing critical apps will continue to function fully in the cloud, safe from end-of-life risks and limitations. The process futureproofs critical applications, giving them a new lease of life as a cloud-compliant application, manageable with any of the standard third-party tools.

      When it comes to digital transformation, enterprises needn’t leave those business-critical legacy applications behind. Application compatibility packaging will place them ahead of the curve.

        Cloudhouse needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. See our Privacy Policy for details.

        Load More

        FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

        Commercials
        How much does Cloudhouse cost? Down Arrow

        Cloudhouse costs are split into two elements – the licensing required to deploy application compatibility packages, and the professional services needed to create the application compatibility packages.

        Licensing is offered on a per user basis for desktop applications and a per server basis for server applications. There are discounts available based on volumes.

        Professional Services costs are dependent on the nature and complexity of the application. We quote a cost for packaging once we have been able to see the application, or portfolio of applications.

        Contact us here with your requirements and we will provide you with a quote.

        Packaging and Maintaining Applications
        Who is responsible for packaging desktop and server applications? Down Arrow

        Cloudhouse provide the Professional Services to package applications.

        Requirements for Test and Development Down Arrow

        Cloudhouse recommend packaged applications are tested in the standard UAT environments used for natively installed applications, or applications packaged in App-V. The more representative the test environment is of the live environment, the greater the chance of finding any issues prior to go-live.

        Updating Applications Down Arrow

        Service packs and updates can be applied to the applications in a package using the Editor, refer to Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers which describes how a new snapshot is created for the update, and how it is then applied to the package.

        Operations
        Who manages Cloudhouse operationally within an account? Down Arrow

        Cloudhouse recommends the same team who manage the operations of native apps.

        Automation and Deployment Down Arrow

        Applications running in Application Compatibility Packages can be deployed, and managed with same tools, or scripts used to deploy natively installed applications e.g. SCCM, InTune, LAN Desk. Please refer to Supported 3rd Party Products and Versions for details.

        Support
        How do we know which of our departments/ teams should support the Package? Down Arrow

        The Cloudhouse Package does not include OS components, it only contains the packaged application plus Cloudhouse components. Cloudhouse recommend the same team that is responsible for supporting applications packaged with App-V, or delivered as natively installed applications, support Cloudhouse Application Compatibility Containers.

        Documentation for Service Desk & Service Management Down Arrow

        Full documentation is made available to Cloudhouse partners and customers as required.

        Training
        Do Cloudhouse provide training? Down Arrow

        Cloudhouse offers a full packaging service that can scale to meet any requirement. In the event, however, that a partner wishes to offer application compatibility packaging as part of a wider solution, Cloudhouse will work with that partner. Please contact us here for details.

        App Delivery, Deployment and Management Renaissance

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        Back in July 2006, Microsoft acquired Softricity, provider of an application virtualization and dynamic streaming system. Seen as a key technology for reducing the cost and complexity of IT management, application virtualization reduced the amount of application compatibility testing typically needed when deploying new applications, upgrades and patches. Softricity’s offer was that applications could be served centrally and delivered directly to the user’s desktop in an isolated, virtualized image, minimizing application-related alterations to the operating system and compatibility challenges with other applications.

        Softricity had a good solution for delivering these apps and there was an ecosystem of companies offering similar services. When Microsoft purchased Softricity though, the industry mostly decided that problem was fixed. It turns out, it wasn’t.

        After about five years, following the Softricity acquisition (re-launched by Microsoft as App-V), the industry started to realize there was still a problem. Complex business applications were challenging. They had interoperability, integrations, and plug-ins and compatibility issues. The result? Around 40% of apps simply couldn’t be virtualized. Solutions to this problem came from all sorts of perspectives. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was a cheaper and more secure way to deliver desktops for example. However, the reality is it’s never that simple. In fact, even with VDI, app delivery wasn’t solved.

        Fast-forward 10 years to the App Renaissance 

        Today, the reality is that application delivery, deployment and management is having a come-back. A renaissance if you will.? Industry experts, evangelists, bloggers, etc. have realized that delivering apps onto the latest Azure and supported Windows platforms is hard. Especially because the majority are legacy (we prefer the term “classic”) apps, which are fundamentally incompatible with 64bit operating systems. Since many apps cannot easily be replaced because they are critical to the daily operating systems for many large enterprise organizations and, frankly, because they are actually really rather good at what they do, this poses a significant challenge for corporate IT.

        Consider that at last year’s 2015 BriForum desktop virtualization conference, there was almost nothing on the agenda about app delivery, the focus was very much on VDI and Citrix. The story was somewhat different at the BriForum London event in London, with a significant increase in app deployment and management sponsors.

        Application compatibility management is the elephant in the room, the ‘boring dirty problem’ that still needs solving for many organizations. But, why is it a problem? Mostly because IT puts these apps in three buckets – first its cloud native, so it works. Next, with some tinkering, the app works. Finally, the worst – the ‘I don’t want to touch it because when I do, it breaks’ bucket. It can be a difficult problem to solve, but it’s a dirty problem that, if ignored, leaves an organisation open to security and operating risks.

        App Delivery and Deployment Just Got Independent 

        The great news for organisations focused on this issue is that there is a solution.

        Cloudhouse makes it simple. Take any rich web or fat client apps, package them once and deploy onto Microsoft Azure RemoteApp or Windows 10 and Citrix XenApp. Then access from any device.

          Cloudhouse needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. See our Privacy Policy for details.

          Load More

          FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

          Commercials
          How much does Cloudhouse cost? Down Arrow

          Cloudhouse costs are split into two elements – the licensing required to deploy application compatibility packages, and the professional services needed to create the application compatibility packages.

          Licensing is offered on a per user basis for desktop applications and a per server basis for server applications. There are discounts available based on volumes.

          Professional Services costs are dependent on the nature and complexity of the application. We quote a cost for packaging once we have been able to see the application, or portfolio of applications.

          Contact us here with your requirements and we will provide you with a quote.

          Packaging and Maintaining Applications
          Who is responsible for packaging desktop and server applications? Down Arrow

          Cloudhouse provide the Professional Services to package applications.

          Requirements for Test and Development Down Arrow

          Cloudhouse recommend packaged applications are tested in the standard UAT environments used for natively installed applications, or applications packaged in App-V. The more representative the test environment is of the live environment, the greater the chance of finding any issues prior to go-live.

          Updating Applications Down Arrow

          Service packs and updates can be applied to the applications in a package using the Editor, refer to Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers which describes how a new snapshot is created for the update, and how it is then applied to the package.

          Operations
          Who manages Cloudhouse operationally within an account? Down Arrow

          Cloudhouse recommends the same team who manage the operations of native apps.

          Automation and Deployment Down Arrow

          Applications running in Application Compatibility Packages can be deployed, and managed with same tools, or scripts used to deploy natively installed applications e.g. SCCM, InTune, LAN Desk. Please refer to Supported 3rd Party Products and Versions for details.

          Support
          How do we know which of our departments/ teams should support the Package? Down Arrow

          The Cloudhouse Package does not include OS components, it only contains the packaged application plus Cloudhouse components. Cloudhouse recommend the same team that is responsible for supporting applications packaged with App-V, or delivered as natively installed applications, support Cloudhouse Application Compatibility Containers.

          Documentation for Service Desk & Service Management Down Arrow

          Full documentation is made available to Cloudhouse partners and customers as required.

          Training
          Do Cloudhouse provide training? Down Arrow

          Cloudhouse offers a full packaging service that can scale to meet any requirement. In the event, however, that a partner wishes to offer application compatibility packaging as part of a wider solution, Cloudhouse will work with that partner. Please contact us here for details.