It’s not hard to get excited about all the benefits of Virtual Desktops (VDI): Productivity, Mobility, Security, BYOD, any device anywhere, employee satisfaction and cost savings for device refreshes. The danger comes when the excitement is so great that it sometimes outweighs critical steps in tuning and deployment. The sad result is a negative experience and a distorted view of how great VDI really can be. Let me explain.
Building a Race Car
I like to use analogies when thinking about a problem or solution. When the word “tuning” came into play, my brain quickly took me to race cars. When building a race car, many different major parts come into play: the Engine, Transmission, Drive/Steering Axles, Chassis, and Suspension, to name a few.
There’s plenty of basic tuning and additional fine tuning that have to take place between when you take the parts out of the box and when you bolt them all together. When it’s road ready, you have even more tweaking based on the track, the weather and even the altitude.
Not to mention the proper selection of those parts even before the unboxing and bolting together can happen. For instance, if we order an off-road, high-travel suspension for a NASCAR race car, we will have missed the mark by great proportions before we even crack open box #1. If we pick a high-gear transmission meant for the top speeds of the Bonneville Salt Flats for our ¼ mile drag race car, again we have widely missed the target.
Building Your VDI Solution
The two examples above are fairly obvious, but we see equivalent mistakes all the time when it comes to deploying virtual desktops / DaaS. Enterprises make foundational decisions around the hardware architecture without understanding that VDI is a very different use case than Three Tier Application Architecture.
Here’s a common scenario: you or your DaaS provider have chosen the right architecture, and you’ve done a great job identifying your use case. Check.
You’ve selected all of the applications for the use case and properly decided whether or not those applications should be streamed or included in your golden image. Check.
And so – with great fanfare – you roll out the new Virtual Desktop to all of your end users who have been identified for this use case. Time to celebrate!
But…then the phone starts to ring, and the support tickets and emails start to pile up. Something’s not right. Your end users are unhappy, and even worse for the business, are not productive. They’ve taken a big step back instead of forward, and they blame you and the technology.
What Did You Miss?
You picked the right architecture, selected the right provider, and tested all the applications to prove that they all worked. Yet you’re squarely in the middle of a “productivity frenzy,” just as if the Network or a critical system (Order fulfillment, Point of Sale, Financial, Manufacturing system – pick one that gets the C levels calling) was down. Your shiny new race car is limping along in last place.
These are the times we never forget, when we knew a well-known process from another technology that we should have applied to the new technology. In this case, it’s UAT – User Acceptance Testing. We do UAT all the time in software deployments. We want to ensure the software works, works under load, and works in all locations and from all devices or browsers that we expect to be used to access it. You make changes and tweaks to the software based on a small sample of power or experienced users involved in the UAT.
VDI tuning is the same idea as UAT, just with slightly different knobs, buttons and switches. Just as in software deployments, a half turn of a knob here creates the need to push a button or flip a switch there. You’re making changes to effect the end users’ experience and/or drive the most performance out of the resources you have. Whether it’s race cars, software or VDI, learning the effect of each part and reaching an optimal state of performance takes experience or trial, error, and time.
So before you get too excited about how amazing your new VDI deployment’s going to be, step back and make the time to tune your technology. Take advantage of your available expertise, learn yourself, or listen to the feedback from your service provider.
The advantage? You’ll have very happy end users… and drivers.