VMware Horizon

The PC Pepsi Challenge

In 1975 Pepsi launched the Pepsi Challenge. I know this because my dad worked for Pepsi and we had to drink more than our fair share of the stuff on a daily basis. We were living in the Philippines around this time, which along with a handful of more discerning regions like the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Guatemala and half of Canada-were of the opinion that Pepsi was in fact “the real thing”. Now given the copious quantities of cola I had to drink- I could always tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, but for me, the concept and the marketing behind the Pepsi Challenge was pure brilliance

And so I was amused when I was talking to John Orbaugh the Director of Technology Services for Tyler Independent School District last week about his desktop virtualization implementation with VMware View. Because he told me that when he went to present his proposal for moving to virtual desktops to his board, that he cooked up his own PC Pepsi challenge and used a thin client running View against a physical PC.

Could users really tell the difference? Which did they prefer? I’ll let John tell you more in his upcoming guest blogs, but needless to say things went well for desktop virtualization and that made all the difference at Tyler ISD.

It’s not always easy to convince people to make a change and make the move away from physical PCs as many of us know first-hand. Yes desktop virtualization is about streamlining management and cutting costs. I have seen schools take help desk tickets and cut them in half. I have seen the time taken to deploy a PC go from 8 hours to 8 minutes. I have even seen schools be able to cut log on times from 14 minutes down to 1 minute on 8 year old machines. But desktop virtualization is also very much about both end user perception and experience. I say perception-because end users need to believe that this change will be good. And they also need to see that this change will be an improvement over what they have today.

I regularly tell customers in the state, local and education space (which is what I focus on) to do an assessment before they deploy virtual desktops. This gives them a better understanding of their desktop environments, their peak workloads and what applications are being used. And this sets them up for success by allowing them to properly size their environments. But what I haven’t typically told customers to do before is an “assessment with their end users”. And what I mean by this-is letting end users get in front of a virtual desktop deployment to assess and understand why this is a good thing.

Earlier this week, however I was invited to speak to the faculty and staff of a college looking to move to desktop virtualization. There were about 20 faculty and staff in the room-and a video feed for those couldn’t make it. There were representatives from the libraries, from the math department, from student services. And they had great questions.

Is this secure? How will I migrate over all of my files? What about my particular math applications? Can I toggle between my base image and my VM? Can I still upload applications? What about compatibility with assistive technologies? What about application licensing? What will this look like for me?

I walked through their questions and I outlined how this new technology would impact and improve their world. I talked about improved access across devices (even very old ones) and locations with an interface that they all knew and had come to love, how teachers could now add applications to their course curriculums on the fly (versus having to wait weeks or until the end of the semester), and how they would get better remote access (without getting bumped off the VPN every 30 minutes). And I talked about how the school could now free up space for additional classes-because labs that were previously run in different rooms could be consolidated down in to one or two rooms. Finally I showed them a demo.

This was one of the first times I have been asked to do this. It was a great experience. And I think a key one in helping these end users understand the perceived benefits. I really think that this school should also follow this up with a PC Pepsi Challenge of its own.

So now I’ll throw the question out to you… Are you engaging your end users to get their buy in before rolling out desktops? Are you up for the PC Pepsi challenge?

More from John Orbaugh on this to follow…. You can now read the first post from Jon Orbaugh here.

Courtney Burry; Sr. Product Marketing Manager-SLED, Enterprise Desktop BU