In my job, I get the chance every so often for extended conversation with one of our excellent channel partners. And I always learn something new. Today, I chatted with Derrick Faur, a veteran IT consultant with CentriNet, (www.centrinetcorp.com) based in Alpharetta, GA.
I was following up on their experience with our Stratusphere FIT and Stratusphere UX software, which they use in VDI deployments, and Derrick told me they were usually called in after a VDI project had gone horribly wrong and they had to turn it around. An assessment, he said, was invaluable in getting the client company back on track because they were working with objective, actionable data – often for the first time in that project!!! Well, of course I was amazed, and said ‘tell me more’ which led to some real doozies of stories of VDI-Gone-Bad, and my asking Derrick what advice he would give to customers who want to implement VDI the right way, the first time.
And here are his top 5 tips for getting it right, in order of priority.
1. Know Your Applications!!!
The primary and most important thing to understand is which and how many versions of applications you have running in your environment. This is not only a good housekeeping step (inventorying applications and reducing the number of versions you are using), it is going to play a big role in designing your desktop images and keeping the number of images to a manageable workload.
2. Understand Your Users
According to Derrick, although most companies understand that delivering a quality user experience is important, they are not exactly sure how to create a picture of what that is. And unless you accurately measure how your users work (in office, remotely etc.) in terms of quantifiable numbers like duration of response times they have with logins, applications, etc., you can’t deliver that.
3. User Acceptance is Important
If your users don’t like it, they won’t use it. But… here’s the magic. Derrick says it’s actually very easy to get users to like it. First make sure that their VDI experience is as close to what they have on their current desktops so they are in familiar territory. Then make it faster and more available. And then stop the whiners – meaning some people don’t like any changes at all, so make sure you have an objective measurement tool to first, baseline their current experience and second, prove to them VDI is on par with what they had.
4. The Device is NOT the Driver of VDI
Often enough, a VDI implementation can start with someone in the organization saying…”wouldn’t it be cool if I do my work (presentation, data entry, research… you name it) on my iPad?” And, says Derrick, that’s really starting at the end. It is much more important to understand your applications and how users use them to do work, and then choose the right approach from there. He gave an example of a carpet company client of theirs, whose salesmen do use their tablets to make customer presentations and process orders, but this was a case of delivering a very slim set of apps to the salesmen and application virtualization was the better approach there. He went on to say that not all applications are a good fit for tablets or mobile devices either, so again, start with getting the facts about how your employees do their jobs and create the right infrastructure to support that.
5. Deliver a Consistent Experience
Nobody likes the unexpected. And even though VDI is capable of blazing performance, no one is going to be happy if it’s haphazard or only good 30% of the time. According to Derrick, the only way to deliver a consistent experience is to make sure you have visibility into your VDI infrastructure from the user experience all the way into the infrastructure supporting it. That way you can proactively head off bottlenecks or other budding issues that can cause user experience to deteriorate.
Thanks Derrick for that perspective from the front-lines of VDI projects!