I’m a planner. Just ask my wife. In fact, this character trait has served us well—we have triplets. By way of example, have you ever waited—over an hour—for a table at a kid-friendly restaurant, only to be told there aren’t three child seats available? The calmer side of me chalks this up to a lack of planning. The other side of me … well, that’s not appropriate to convey in writing.
I have had the fortune to be able to speak with quite a few IT professionals looking to explore some type of desktop transformation. Some take pause and plan. Most, unfortunately, leap into building the supporting infrastructure and convincing a few end-users to give it a whirl. I believe there are a few critical steps in between.
Last month I spoke about where to begin the VDI Journey; and to be fair, this process holds true regardless of your desktop transformation. With a few very small exceptions, we have been managing desktop workloads the same way since the PC came on the scene in 1983. It should not be a surprise that profound change is afoot. Anyone considering this journey already knows that desktop transformational change is difficult; hence you taking the time to read this post.
Understanding your journey, inclusive of tangible elements like sizing servers and storage, and intangible elements, such as training your desktop team and identifying ways to optimize your desktop strategy, are not immediately apparent if you don’t take the time to explore. In short, you need to plan.
What is a Proof of Concept?
After assessing your current desktop approach, the next major phase to be considered is the Proof of Concept (PoC). Interestingly, most folks I speak with combine the PoC and pilot steps into one. These two phases in the journey are not the same. In fact, you’ll note a key attribute of the PoC is to demonstrate feasibility.
By way of example, while I may share the concept of Disneyworld with my triplets, it is not until after a feasibility study that I bring them into the loop. The PoC should not involve your end-users, it is a planning exercise to demonstrate the necessary transformational attributes (both technological and organization) that you will experience should you decide to move ahead on the journey. In my next post I’ll look at the organizational change that is necessary to fully realize a desktop transformation.
Another difference between the PoC and pilot stage of your journey involves the resources employed to support each phase. In a PoC, you need not deliver a production-ready, scalable infrastructure. Remember, this is the stage to understand the architecture, the nuance of the transformation, the skills gap and training your team will require to ultimately prevail.
The pilot stage in the journey is when you cross over from feasibility to the first stage of production. That is not to say you cannot or should not invest in new shiny widgets to support your PoC; however, performance and building the production environment come after the PoC. These are goals and attributes you will address in a design phase, which should follow a thoughtful assessment and appreciation for the transformation to come.
In the PoC phase of your journey you should set the following goals:
- Understand the architecture and begin to appreciate how components elements contribute to an overall solution
- Explore delivery approaches and how each will change your ability to control and influence CAPEX and OPEX
- Assess the skills and new demands that will be placed on your team—a journey like VDI will change how you manage desktop workloads, or you’re doin’ it wrong!
Planning with a Purpose
Nothing I’ve mentioned above is all that ground shaking; and know that good planning makes everything seem easy. Do you think pre-k triplet girls naturally behave themselves in a restaurant? It may look easy, but it’s not. Desktop transformation strategies like VDI are no different. Having a plan of attack and investing the time to better understand the transformation is the best investment you can make. That said, it must all be undertaken with a purpose.
Last month I shared some thoughts on Liquidware Labs Stratusphere™ FIT and how it supports the assessment phase of the journey. In this post I’ll note Stratusphere™ UX and how it provides the visibility necessary to support the PoC (and beyond). Without the metrics and an understanding of how the supporting infrastructure build the foundation for your transformation, your success—and ability to plan for that success—is largely left to chance.
Exploring the complexity of the virtual desktop, and how elements such as server hosts, storage, persona management and image design contribute to the desktop experience is well beyond what I could cover in this post. Please accept that these attributes, design considerations and supporting infrastructure choices are at the core of what the desktop transformation approach is all about.
Understanding how the interaction of these elements contribute to the environment and how to effectively manage through the change process should be your purpose in the PoC. It may look like a purposeless, simplistic step to outsiders; but with this investment comes the confidence and conviction to move from a PoC to a formal design and production pilot.
It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
Regardless of what desktop transformation approach you consider, paying attention to the inevitable change and being able to understand and quantify the metrics that provide indicators of your journey are critical. BYOD, application streaming, VDI, even a labor-intensive migration from Windows XP to Windows 7/8x all involve change.
Stratusphere™ UX provides the visibility to support the journey (regardless of your ultimate destination). That said, take the time to assess your transformation, but also take the time to invest in the planning to make the change look easy. Else you could find yourself sitting in the child seat.