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Monthly Archives: December 2013

What Did You Miss? Best Blog Posts for 2013

When you consider the constant flow of information we are submerged in on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that great insights occasionally escape our notice. As we reflect this week on the  last year, we thought we’d share a few of our most read and most shared posts from 2013—just in case you missed one. We hope they’ll help you step into 2014 with confidence, knowing you have these helpful tips in your back pocket (and that you can check back any time for new ones). Enjoy!

Four Commonly Missed and Easy to Implement Best Practices (Horizon View)
– By Nathan Smith, VMware EUC Consultant

It All Starts Here: Internal implementation of Horizon Workspace at VMware
– By Jim Zhang, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

4 Ways To Overcome Resistance to the Cloud
– By Brett Parlier, Solutions Architect, VMware Professional Services

Quickly Calculate Bandwidth Requirements with New vSphere ‘fling’
– By Sunny Dua, Senior Technology Consultant at VMware

Slowing Down for Strategy Speeds Up the Move to Mobile

By Gary Osborne, Senior Solutions Product Manager – End User Computing

Today’s workers are more reliant on—and demanding of—mobility than ever before. They need personalized desktops that follow them from work to home. They need to connect from multiple devices through rich application interfaces. The challenge for IT organizations is that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives are often wrapped in, and encumbered by, tactical issues—perpetually pushing strategic discussion to the back burner.

Working hard, but standing still

By focusing on a tactical approach, many IT organizations find themselves on the BYOD treadmill—they get a lot of exercise but never really get anywhere!  Developing an overarching strategy before setting out on the journey provides much needed guidance and positioning along the way. This isn’t a step-by-step plan, but rather a clear vision of the business challenges being addressed and the value being delivered back to the organization. This vision, including direction, a clear definition of phased success, and defined checkpoints along the way, should be articulated and understood throughout the organization.

Getting your organization to buy into the importance of an overarching strategy can be a tough sell, especially if near-term goals are looming. But it will pay off many times over. According to a recent study by IBM, “Those IT organizations that treat mobile as both a high priority and a strategic issue are much more likely to experience the benefits that mobile can bring to an organization. The July report, Putting Mobile First: Best Practices of Mobile Technology Leaders, reveals a strong correlation between mobile success and establishing a strategic mobile vision, along with external help to implement it.

Take the time – but not too much

Those IT organizations that achieve measurable success with their VDI and BYOD initiatives found the right balance between too little time developing a sound strategy and the all-too-common “analysis paralysis” of taking too much time. we  We have worked with customers that have found that balance in part by keeping a clear focus on the business value that BYOD solutions can provide and an eye toward what they need to achieve and deliver to the business to declare success.

Jumping straight to the tactical activities and placing orders for “guestimated” infrastructure without knowing the strategy that will support it are two of the most common pitfalls I see lead to failed or stalled BYOD initiatives. By focusing on the value mobility can deliver to the business rather than get bogged down in the technical details, a strategic exercise can be completed swiftly and deliberately, meeting the speed of change in today’s mobility.

Gary Osborne is an IT industry veteran and is part of the VMWare Global Professional Services engineering team responsible for the End User Computing Services Portfolio.  Prior to his current role, he provided field leadership for the VMware End User Computing Professional Services practice for the Americas.

IT Must Overcome Internal Resistance to Maintain Platform ROI

By Samuel Denton-Giles, Business Solutions Architect at VMware

When deciding to adopt a new architecture or technology vision, IT organizations spend a lot of time and resources to make sure the solution fits the business’s needs, that it is cost effective, and that it can scale as the business grows. Unfortunately, I often see those visions chipped away at by daily organizational pressures, ultimately undoing the potential benefits bestowed by the new strategy.

Does this sound familiar? Someone senior from a line of business or a large vendor decides they don’t want to use a new platform. Because IT doesn’t have as much clout, they are overridden and a parallel technology is implemented, sabotaging economies of scale and the ROI for the new platform.

In order to demonstrate the value of its investments, especially in large-scale implementations such as the software-defined data center or private cloud, IT will need a clear strategy to ensure new technology is adopted and used as intended. Below, I outline two strategies I’ve seen IT organizations successfully utilize to rein in architectural drift.

Find a Champion

The best way to maintain agility while making sure new platforms are adopted as intended is to find a champion with the influence to successfully defend IT decisions. This champion should be a line-of-business leader or other executive who can explain the reasoning behind the platform and the costs associated with changing it.

The first challenge of this approach is finding the right champion. The second is to shift the way IT relates to stakeholders generally, promoting earlier and more frequent socialization of ideas and solutions. The IT organization at an oil and gas company I work with is a good example of the benefits of both.

The head of one of the company’s four main divisions cared about cloud and his business unit helped drive many of the technology requirements. Although the group’s CIO was already very active with the business, he tended to talk with LOBs but then work in isolation to deliver a finished technology solution. Because the changes required for a cloud implementation were so broad, the investment so large, and the impact on the business so high, the IT team decided to involve their champion on the business side from the outset to help shape strategy.

This approach not only ensured the platform met the business’s needs, but also strengthened IT’s position through a champion who could explain exactly why decisions had been made and help persuade the business to follow them.

Productize the Platform

The second approach places a high priority on the stability of the platform. In this case, the platform is treated like a product, with set updates at defined intervals (say, every six months). I have seen this approach work well at a large financial institution where the IT organization decided to certify every version of software that made up the platform, from the applications at the top to the firmware in a physical box at the bottom. Any feature request goes through a rigorous testing cycle, and then can be assimilated with all concurrent changes in the platform’s next “product release.”

The IT organization’s biggest hurdle was convincing the business that the review process was important, despite their frustration with longer timelines. It helped that they had an executive mandate to make stability and security the top priorities. In addition, by providing a very specific process for change requests, IT eventually weaned the business off continuous, knee-jerk changes.

To help maintain agility within this controlled environment, the IT organization also implemented a self-service, cloud-provisioning function, allowing them to rapidly deploy services within the capabilities of the platform. And if the business’s needs can’t be met, as a last resort they can step outside the process, but only with executive sign-off and non-production development until testing is complete.

Neither of these approaches to organizational resistance is easy, but the alternative is untenable. By making an up-front investment in relationship building, stakeholder involvement, and clear process documentation, IT can strengthen its influence in and benefit to the business.

Application Remediation for Windows Migration Got You Down?

By Oscar Olivo, Senior Consultant, VMware’s Professional Services

With the expiration date for Windows XP looming—April 8, 2014—many IT organizations are looking for the most efficient path to migration. One potential stumbling block is that, when migrating to Windows 7/8, IT also needs to move from a 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system to provide greater performance and compatibility with newer software.

The Problem

This presents a problem from an application compatibility standpoint, as legacy software that is critical to the business may not even install on a 64-bit operating system, much less run properly.

For the applications that require remediation, not all organizations will be able to upgrade to the latest version of software for the following reasons:

  • The newest version of the application may not work properly on a 64-bit OS.
  • The cost of licensing to upgrade to the newest version of software is restrictive.
  • The server infrastructure accessed by the application may require an older version of the client software (e.g., Project 2010 client is not supported with Project Server 2007).
  • The in-house development efforts to certify existing applications as 64-bit compatible are too costly or the internal development resources are not available to do so.
  • The plan to update/migrate off the software that needs remediation will not meet the April 2014 XP end-of-support date.

The Solution

Luckily, VMware ThinApp allows applications to be virtualized on a variety of 32-bit and 64-bit platforms. This means that applications virtualized on Windows XP 32-bit can be run on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x 64-bit operating systems—an effective method of remediating applications and driving the migration off Windows XP.

In this situation, it is important to note that applications might still contain operating system elements, such as DLLs, executables, and registry entries (in addition to the needed application files). The more of these files that are contained in the virtual application, the greater the difficulty in patching and securing the application once support for Windows XP SP3 is phased out this coming spring.

The Caveat

Although ThinApp can assist in remediating applications, it is critical to define the length of support for these use cases. Each affected business unit needs to understand the security, operational, and (possibly) cost implications of continuing to run legacy software, even in a virtualized state. Having an end state for each remediated application will not only drive standardization to newer software versions, but (most importantly) will also maintain momentum toward a supported, modern operating system.

Read more about why you can’t afford to put off your Microsoft migration over on the VMware Accelerate blog.

Oscar Olivo is a Senior Consultant with VMware’s Professional Services Organization, bringing to the team more than 19 years of IT experience in financial, consulting, and healthcare environments. In addition to being a VMware Certified Professional (for Desktop and Data Center Virtualization), he is fluent in Spanish, English, and currently learning Japanese. Oscar is also a proud University of Michigan alumnus, which at times puts him at odds (literally) with some of his mid-western co-workers.