Server virtualization has been a runaway success with obvious reductions in OPEX and CAPEX. Storage virtualization has led to much simpler unified storage products with clear OPEX benefits. Citrix and VMware are the leaders in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure deployments. The infrastructure group should just take VDI on and make it three for three, right?
With server and storage utilization, the end-user is only peripherally involved. As long as the applications based on the virtualized infrastructure perform well, the user sees no difference at all. All changes in process are within the IT department. With VDI the user experience is the single most important key to success.
What we heard from practitioners on the 1/25/2011 Wikibon Peer Incite meeting were clear imperatives for successful VDI implementations:
- VDI implementations should be led by people experienced with PC and desktop deployment – infrastructure staff should be restricted to a support role;
- IT infrastructure staff are NOT typical end-users;
- Segment user groups by the applications run, the locations used and IT experience;
- Pick a homogenous group of users in the same location where the business case is clear as a starting point;
- Collect data automatically on the exact usage of application run, the infrastructure used (e.g., file & print), and desktop functionality used;
- Run a small VDI pilot to understand VDI and its impact on the organization;
- Ensure that storage is architected properly and can meet peak IOPS requirements such as boot storms;
- Success can be measured by a group of users actually using the new VDI infrastructure, and realizing the projected savings.
One of the greatest challenges for CIOs is managing access, ensuring security, and integrating the plethora of end-user devices that employees are carrying. End-users find it useful to access a screenshot of a desktop on their end-user device, but it is not integration. Integration is being able to print from an end-user device directly to an IP printer, lookup and change meetings and reservations directly, interact with data required directly.
The pace of innovation in end-user devices and applications is unrelenting, and VDI cannot possibly innovate fast enough to keep pace. VDI can make a contribution to integration, but selling VDI as a strategic solution for end-user device integration will almost certainly lead to unfulfilled expectations and project failure.
Action Item: Keep VDI implementations simple in scope and led by desktop experts, migrate users in small homogeneous groups one group at a time, and focus on great end-user experience and budget savings.