Desktop Virtualization Cultural Challenges – Part 2

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Damon Brown, CTO of Govplace

Damon Brown, CTO of Govplace

In part 1 of “Desktop Virtualization Cultural Challenges”, I discussed the need to consider user experience and perspective of technology.  The greatest technology in the world that fails to be adopted by the end user is a failed technology. Today, technology is pervasive in many individual’s personal and business lives. The kind of cell phone you carry, whether you are a MAC or PC user, can be a as much of a personal statement as the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Computer-based workers spend a large, if not the largest, portion of their waking day staring at a screen. Workers personalize their work area and computer desktops to fit their needs and individual tastes, making them an extension of their own personality.

Virtualized desktops, regardless of vendor, take advantage of  shared resources. Sharing these capital intensive resources is a large element of its value.  The ability to rapidly provision hundreds of desktops from a single image also has huge benefits. Turning the desktop into a “service” that is provided by IT rather than a capital asset that requires arduous management has an enormous impact on the bottom line.

Any time you mass produce, centrally manage and standardize, there is an reduction of the uniqueness and individuality of the product (desktop). Every desktop ceases to be unique, like a special snowflake. This is good for managing, troubleshooting, cost control, security and reliability. Reduction in customization can potentially be perceived as being negative by the end user. Give back my snowflake!

I see the path through this challenge comprised of three components: executive sponsorship, user experience centric approach and proper deployment.

Executive Sponsorship:
Desktop Virtualization is not solely an IT initiative. Leadership needs to understand both the financial benefits and social pitfalls of this venture. They need to work with management and staff alike to help them understand why this move is good for the organization and ultimately the individual. Understand that a small sacrifice in computer interface customization will ultimately provide a much more stable environment. Also, sell new capabilities, such as quick application provisioning and access to those applications from anywhere, anytime to get the organization excited. It is the leadership’s responsibility to sell the change as a good change for everyone. Leadership also has the responsibility to enable the IT organization to be successful. This may mean empowering the team, or merely backing them up when decisions are made that some users may be unhappy with, but are for the greater good of the organization. IT and the executive teams must stand as one in a change such as this.

User Experience Centric Approach:
From initial design to implementation, leadership and IT alike must recognize that IT is responsible for a good end user experience. IT staff can get excited about taking capabilities away from end users that will benefit system stability. For example, removing the ability to install applications, or making desktops read only altogether, gets IT cheering. We need to take a balanced approach between system lockdown and end user flexibility. All too often, IT sees users as the problem rather than the customer. The user is the reason for IT’s existence. Again, leadership plays a critical role here.

Proper deployment:
The solution better work, or no amount of selling will keep you out if the line of fire. Use experienced, qualified people. Make sure that your integrator not only understands the technology, but the concepts within this article. To insure your success, work with professionals that are willing to sign up for measurements of success beyond the technology. Hold them accountable to the outcome of the overall initiative.  Whenever possible, use vendor agnostic solution providers. You will get an unbiased approach to the solution that combines best of breed technologies from various vendors if necessary. Make sure the architecture takes into consideration the entire “computer stack”. These solutions can rely heavily on other parts of your infrastructure, such as networking, storage and even helpdesk. Train your people. Once the architecture is identified, with send your team to training or build training into the implementation process. Build on a foundation of quality infrastructure, properly deployed, adhering to best practices, managed knowledgeable IT staff. Invest in the right 3rd party tools, training, updating processes and procedures, sell the solution internally, and you will have a happy and productive organization.

VDI Survey
Xangati, developers of a solution which allows service providers and IT organizations to eliminate blind spots from their network infrastructure, recently conducted a survey to assess Desktop Virtualization in 2010.

Download the entire survey & results here.

Some of the survey questions and results are:

What are the top drivers moving your organization towards VDI?

  • Reducing cost of operations/lower TCO – 76.5%
  • Increased security to prevent/deter theft of IP – 31.4%
  • Increasing of employee productivity – 28.4%
  • Green initiative – 28.4%
  • Cloud initiative – 27.5%
  • Compliance – 12.7%
  • Windows 7 migration costs – 12.7%
  • Other – 12.7%

What factors were/will be evaluated to determine success of the VDI pilot? (Please select more than one if appropriate)

  • End-user experience/satisfaction – 83.3%
  • Critical business apps worked as expected – 71.6%
  • Cost of pilot (were deployment and support costs higher/lower than expected) – 52.9%
  • No intended consequences for other parts of the IT experience – 37.3%
  • Ease of pilot deployment (extent to which project varied/varies from schedule) – 35.3
  • Other – 3.9%

What do you see as likely obstacles to full scale VDI deployment? (Please select more than one if appropriate)

  • Lack of management solutions for VDI performance/visibility – 63.7%
  • Hidden costs/overall VDI deployment costs – 39.2%
  • Not enough resources allocated to project (people, dollars, hardware, software) – 33.3%
  • Network infrastructure performance/readiness – 31.4%
  • Adapting IT operations processes to support VDI end-users – 26.5%
  • Lack of management solutions for VDI performance/visibility – 16.7%
  • Need for an IT chargeback model – 15.7%
  • Other – 10.8%

Which of these functions do you expect a management solution to provide in your VDI deployments? (Please select more than one if appropriate)

  • Assess what adversely affecting end-user experience – 62.7%
  • Tell me what isn’t working – 52.0%
  • Enable service desk to support end-user VDI calls – 42.2%
  • Provide insight into infrastructure’s readiness to support VDI – 40.2%
  • Help avoid pitfalls that delay project timelines – 35.3%
  • Deliver proactive service assurance for VDI 34.3%

Do you believe that 2010 is the watershed year for VDI?

  • Yes – 65.7%
  • No – 34.3%

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Damon Brown is Chief Technology Officer at Govplace.

3 Responses to “Desktop Virtualization Cultural Challenges – Part 2”

  1. […] my next post  I will share my thoughts on dealing with cultural […]

  2. Issac Maez says:

    this post its very usefull thx!

  3. Nice Blog Entry. I would like to learn more from your talented reporting. I am going to favorite this and reread it a couple of times.

    I am writing some simple howto articles on Virtual Machines on Desktop PCs for that will be appearing on Thursdays throughout the next few weeks. I invite you to view my latest article at: – where I was asked to write these articles by Steve Ressler.

    Thank you for your time.

    Chris Bradley

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