How an Enterprise Financial Institution Moved Business-Critical Legacy Applications to Modern Operating Systems

The Mission: Ensure Employee Productivity Without Jeopardizing Security and Compliance

Company Overview

One of the largest banks in the United Kingdom, with more than 10,000 internal end users, was struggling to make applications consistently available. Simply put, application downtime means employees cannot do their jobs, losing money for both the bank and its customers. Even worse, it puts them at risk of being out of compliance.

Background

In the fall of 2017, many companies were hit with “WannaCry” and other ransomware targeting the Windows platform. In some cases, these companies were still running Windows XP. Even though these companies had purchased support for these legacy operating systems (OS) and protected the environment within the security confines of VDI, the inherent security problems of these older OSes are too challenging to overcome and ultimately compromise the system. This situation eventually put banks out of compliance with the government. The only solution was to move onto a current OS which protects against the latest sophisticated attacks quickly. In that effort, the companies uncovered that the reason these applications continued to run on the older operating system was that they never worked on the newer operating systems long ago.

The Challenge

Numecent worked with one of the U.K.’s largest banking enterprises who had this exact problem. They had a significantly large Windows XP application deployment infrastructure which was secured in a VDI environment and was only available via remote access. The banking enterprise had over 13,000 Windows applications being used by its employees. Many of these applications were deemed critical for specific lines of business, as they were integral to the operations of the smaller banks which had been acquired by the large enterprise in previous years. Immediately following “WannaCry,” the banking enterprise had been given a directive to remove Windows XP from their environment and those of its subsidiaries before the end of 2017.

Before tackling the migration of its 13,000+ applications, the enterprise performed an application rationalization project and reduced the total number of applications it utilized down to approximately 2,500. Many of these remaining applications were quickly migrated to Windows 7 or Windows 10 using standard techniques with App-V or direct installations via SCCM. However, over 150 applications could not run on Windows 7 or Windows 10 using any methods including direct installation. And many of those applications came from companies that were no longer in business. Others were written in-house, but the developers had been gone from the company for some time, and there was no source code to reference. Reverse engineering the applications would take too long and be extremely expensive. The enterprise needed a way to transition its legacy applications to Windows 7 or Windows 10, obtain patches, and reduce the risk of ransomware or other problems that were becoming prominent with applications running on Windows XP.

The Solution

The large banking enterprise tried nearly every application compatibility, virtualization and deployment solution on the market. Med-V and XP Mode provided some relief, but they also raised security concerns and ultimately were not allowed by the enterprise’s security team. Other solutions didn’t offer any significant. Finally, the enterprise was introduced to Cloudpaging™ technology from Numecent.

The Strategy

The enterprise began by conducting a “quick pass” to package all its troublesome applications. After its first attempt, the enterprise could successfully run over 50% of the troublesome applications on Windows 7 or Windows 10, with little time invested in learning the granular-level control options available in the Cloudpaging packaging process. Many of the applications had hard-coded paths, hard-coded registry information, or other properties that were easily accommodated through Cloudpaging the application to a newer operating system. Additional training and assistance was provided by Numecent to drive the success rate even higher for the remaining applications with additional complexities.

Cloudpaging quickly helped reduce the number of applications that could not be migrated to Windows 7 or Windows 10, mitigating much of the urgency and allowing its engineering resources to focus their efforts on reengineering a significantly smaller set of applications.

The Outcome

Cloudpaging provided a necessary path to removing Windows XP from the large, U.K.-based banking enterprise environment before the end of 2017. The applications, easily migrated by utilizing Cloudpaging, can now be evaluated for replacement using a lower-cost process over a longer period of time, as opposed to the very expensive process that would have been needed to meet the tight deadlines to restrict vulnerabilities.

User adoption of the newly migrated applications via Cloudpaging was seamless; the applications appear and function on Windows 7 or Windows 10 identically to how they behaved on Windows XP. Successful removal of XP from the environment removed all hardware, software, and human capital costs related to maintaining the XP environment. XP Ransomware is no longer a concern for the large banking enterprise.

The original budget for this project assumed a large development effort would be needed to rebuild much of the enterprise’s critical line of business software. The cost of this assumption was significantly reduced as Cloudpaging minimized the number of applications in scope from that which was originally anticipated.

Conclusion

The banking enterprise met its deadline, solving the problem within its timeframe by leveraging Cloudpaging as a tool for migrating applications. Much to the banking leader’s delight, Cloudpaging was successful in moving Windows XP to Windows 7, Windows 10, and Server 2012 VDI environments.

About Numecent

Numecent is the pioneer of Cloudpaging, an award-winning cloud technology designed to maximize application compatibility and portability across modern desktop environments. Headquartered in Irvine, California – with two satellite locations in London and Tokyo – the company delivers applications to millions of users worldwide. With innovation at the core of its business, the company’s technology portfolio includes 58 issued patents (and counting).

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