As the IT infrastructure manager at Digital Intelligence Systems LLC (DISYS), an IT solutions company, I recently initiated the build-out of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to support our large mobile workforce, and learned some important lessons along the way that may help smooth the way for your VDI rollout.
Here are three key recommendations to get going:
" First and foremost, you have to know your technology environment and make sure you have the right infrastructure in place. In our case, we were already running a highly virtualized data center, so VDI would require additional infrastructure but a ground-up rebuild. But, can your infrastructure support VDI now and into the future? To answer this question, you have to clearly understand your intended use cases. What are current storage and processing needs? How many users do you intend to deploy VDI to? What will your deployment look like in six months or a year?
[ VIRTUAL DESKTOPS:User tips from the trenches]
" Second, study the end users at your company. Look at the employees in each department. Make your decision based on usage of different devices and applications, and whether employees in given departments are mobile or rarely travel. This will help you determine ahead of time whether or not a group of employees is a good test case for a VDI pilot program.
" Third, if the technology environment and the end users are right, execute a pilot VDI program. A pilot will allow you to see what works and what doesn't, and will help with mitigating risk when full deployment occurs. In the long run, a pilot will allow you to deploy a VDI infrastructure that is more cost-effective and more on-target with the needs of employees and, ultimately, customers.
Keeping a VDI pilot flying
During a VDI pilot, a number of challenges and issues are bound to arise. Here is what we learned along the way:
" First, we had to deal with the reality that not all departments were really ready or even a good fit for VDI.
" Second, we had to overcome the fact that not all applications and IT programs in the enterprise supported VDI or made sense. For example, Photoshop in the marketing department was not transferable to VDI. In addition, we found that VDI would not work successfully for employees in remote locations that did not have access to a 4G network.
" Third, we didn't realize how much storage some departments were using -- especially upper management!
Ultimately, we came to the realization that to support the full VDI initiative and several other internal IT projects, we needed to upgrade our core infrastructure.
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