Windows end-of-life, validation and business continuity: the strategy to update to Windows 10
by Dario Palese
Microsoft Windows 7 has come to its End-of-Life.
Computer System obsolescence for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies, just like in other regulated environment, is a big deal. Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22nd 2009: this 10-year period has now ended, and as expected Microsoft has discontinued their support to Windows 7, to focus their efforts and investments on supporting newer technologies and improve user experience on the newest platforms. The specific end-date for Windows 7 support occurred on January 14th 2020, leaving all Windows 7-based computer systems without any Technical assistance and Software Updates available from Windows Update, and therefore without any protection, from home PC to complex business workstations.
The risks of keeping an obsolete Windows 7 computer system.
Keeping Windows 7 as the main OS in your company after the end of its support period, means that any computer with this Operating System installed will be completely exposed to a large amount of potential system vulnerabilities and failures: among them, we can mention exposing to serious hacking attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your systems and inflicting many other business-crippling problems. Furthermore, it’s pretty probable that PCs hosting Windows 7 Operating System have completed nearly 11 years of services nowadays (Windows 7 Operating System has been released in July 2009): this means that their lifecycle is approaching to (or already reached) the end, with NO possibility to find spare parts or PC replacement in case of hardware failure. It’s obvious how such problems bring enormous costs due related to the business continuity when occurring to systems that are critical for the business itself.
A good migration strategy is the key to ensure continuity and validation
Microsoft strongly recommends the migration to Windows 10 in order to mitigate all security risks and avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available. Though it may sound a process putting Pharma and MD companies under high stress just like every generational evolution, an integrated approach (that us in PQE Group developed from our long-time experience) means the best way to swiftly upgrade Windows 7 computerized systems and grant both business continuity and compliance, combining IT Technical Services and the Computer System Validation in a cost-efficient mix. This integrated approach consists in three consequent steps, from the first assessment to the system validation:
Step 1 – Assessment Phase:
A composite team of PQE Technicians (IT + CSV) perform a preliminary analysis of the systems to be upgraded, collecting technical information about both old and new systems to identify all critical points, and collecting information about new software versions that may impact on the validation of the previous system.
Step 2 – IT Technical Activities Phase:
For each system, PQE IT Technicians define and consecutively put in place a customized Computer System Upgrade strategy, based on technical info collected during the Assessment phase considered with a priority approach.
Step 3 – Computer System Validation Phase:
Starting from info collected during the assessment phase, and once Computerized Systems have been upgraded, PQE CSV Technicians define a Validation strategy and proceed with the mentioned validation activities, ensuring compliance of all the upgraded systems to the regulatory requirements.
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