Many folks who are implementing end user computing solutions (VDI, application virtualization, etc.) ask the same age-old question – “How can I be successful?” Well, the answer is quite simple – plan the work, work the plan. Jumping in with both feet and going right into the build and deployment of VDI, for example, may help you meet a tactical need and get you to a few hundred desktops. However, when you try to “scale” that environment, introducing other use cases and elements into the solution, that’s when folks start hitting road blocks or brick walls. Taking a little extra time up front, as well as doing some careful planning, will help keep your end user computing services deployment moving forward. Here’s a 30,000 foot view on the major planning elements and lifecycle one should consider for success:
- Establish an End User Computing Strategy – It’s important to ensure your plan aligns with the company’s business and IT-related strategic plans. Also, it’s critical to identify realistic business/technical objectives and any current challenges or pain points resolved with end user computing solutions. A good starting point is to transform your end user computing strategy to an “EUC as a Service” platform – modular in nature so other products and solutions can be easily integrated, with clearly defined service offerings and classes of service, and scalable (both up and out) for the enterprise.
- Assess your environment – Understanding the footprint and usage patterns of your desktops, applications, data, as well as how users “use” the desktop day-to-day is critical for properly designing your solution and identifying and confirming business requirements. It also helps you identify potential risks and constraints right up front.
- Proof of Concept – PoC’s should be conducted based on defined & measurable success criteria. Basically, the PoC should be the “does it work” phase. Of course, this should be done in a controlled testing environment; PoC’s should not be rolled out into production.
- Plan & Design – Design your solution based on strategy and requirements, and not around product capabilities or features. Also, be forward–thinking and strategic when working through the plan and design; tactical designs require lots of updates and are just that – tactically done to serve a specific purpose. Finally, leave no stone unturned during your design – be thorough and keep an open mind. Integration of 3rd party products or changes in the way you do business may be necessary to align with your end user computing strategy/vision and your business and technical requirements.
- Operational Readiness & Preparation – This is a phase many people overlook, and what I refer to as “how do you keep the engine running” phase. End User Computing is a different technical and operational paradigm. It requires most people to adopt new policies and procedures (or adapt/adjust old ones) to effectively maintain and manage their EUC solution. You can have a new car and it runs great, but if you can’t maintain it – it will break down, eventually and always at the wrong time. Take the time to review and adjust your user on-boarding and operational polices, procedures, and resources to build an effective support model and truly achieve the operational benefits of EUC solutions.
- Build & Validation – This phase is where you build out the solution and conduct cursory functional testing of your design. Make sure you build it into your plan and design blueprint and have testing plans that align with solution requirements. It is also important to be thorough and test all aspects of your design (network, storage, functions/features, etc.). Based off of your findings, you may have to adjust your design.
- Scalability & Functional Testing – Another phase that’s typically overlooked. The assessment phase will provide some insight on how your solution can scale and what density numbers you POSSIBLY could achieve; the scalability test is the proof in the pudding. It will not only help validate your solution will scale, but that dependent infrastructure can scale with it. It also paints a data-backed picture on how your solution can scale out (for capacity planning purposes) and helps flush out any misconfiguration or problems before the pilot phase of the project.
- Pilot – Just like the PoC, the pilot phase is where you actually have a controlled user population testing the solution in production. Ensure you get user feedback on end user experience – this is one of the most important measurements of success. Also, be proactive – monitor the performance of the desktop and provide users with an easy way to get support and provide constructive feedback.
- Production & Support – If you’ve followed the phases and high-level guidance outlined above, you’re most likely well on your way to EUC success.
Good luck, and remember – plan the work, work the plan!
|Justin Venezia has worked at VMware for three years as an architect within VMware’s End User Computing (EUC) Global Professional Services Engineering team. He has deep expertise in EUC strategy development and deployment of large-scale end user computing solutions.|