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Organizational Challenges with #VDI – #Citrix

And yet another good blog post by Citrix and Wayne Baker. This is an interesting topic and I must say that the blog posts still goes into a lot of the technical aspects, but there are more “soft” organisational aspects to look into as well like service delivery/governance model and process changes that often are missed. And as Wayne also highlights below and that’s worth mentioning again is the impact on the network that also was covered well in this previous post: #Citrix blog post – Get Up To Speed On #XenDesktop Bandwidth Requirements

Back to the post itself:

One of the biggest challenges I repeatedly come across when working with large customers attempting desktop transformation projects, is the internal structure of the organisation. I don’t mean that the organisation itself is a problem, rather that the project they are attempting spans so many areas of responsibility it can cause significant friction. Many of these customers undertake the projects as a purely technical exercise, but I’m here to tell you it’s also an exercise in organisational change!

One of the things I see most often is a “Desktop” team consisting of all the people who traditionally manage all the end-points, and a totally disparate “Server” team who handle all the server virtualization and back-end work. There’s also the “Networks” team to worry about and often the “Storage” team are in the mix too! Bridging those gaps can be one of the areas where friction begins to show. In my role I tend to be involved across all the teams, and having discussion with all of those people alerts me to where weaknesses may lie in the project. For example the requirements for server virtualization tend to be significantly different to the requirements for desktop virtualization, but when discussing these changes with the server virtualization team, one of the most often asked questions is, “Why would you want to do THAT?!” when pointing out the differing resource allocations for both XenApp and XenDesktop deployments.

Now that’s not to say that all teams are like this and – sweeping generalizations aside – I have worked with some incredibly good ones, but increasingly there are examples where the integration of teams causes massive tension. The only way to overcome this situation is to address the root cause – organizational change. Managing desktops was (and in many places still is) a bit of a black art, combining vast organically grown scripts and software distribution mechanisms into an intricately woven (and difficult to unpick!) tapestry. Managing the server estate has become an exercise in managing workloads and minimising/maximising the hardware allocations to provide the required level of service and reducing the footprint in the datacentre. Two very distinct skill-sets!

The other two teams which tend to get a hard time during these types of projects are the networks and storage teams – this usually manifests itself when discussing streaming technologies and their relative impacts on the network and storage layers. What is often overlooked however is that any of the teams can have a significant impact on the end-user experience – when the helpdesk takes the call from an irate user it’s going to require a good look at all of the areas to decipher where the issue lies. The helpdesk typically handle the call as a regular desktop call and don’t document the call in a way which would help the disparate teams discover the root cause, which only adds to the problem! A poorly performing desktop/application delivery infrastructure can be caused by any one of the interwoven areas, and this towering of teams makes troubleshooting very difficult, as there is always a risk that each team doesn’t have enough visibility of the other areas to provide insight into the problem.

Organizations that do not take a wholesale look at how they are planning to migrate that desktop tapestry into the darkened world of the datacentre are the ones who, as the project trundles on, come to realise that the project will never truly be the amazing place that the sales guy told them it would be. Given the amount of time, money and political will invested in these projects, it is a fundamental issue that organizations need to address.

So what are the next steps? Hopefully everyone will have a comprehensive set of requirements defined which can drive forward a design, something along the lines of:

1) Understand the current desktop estate:

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