Desktop virtualization enables companies to achieve their top business objectives, such as expanding user flexibility, increasing security and reducing costs – but it can be difficult to know where to start. In my experience, I’ve found that there are four key questions that always get asked at the beginning of any transformation project: what do I need to do first, will it work in my environment, and, in the words of any good project manager, how much will it cost and how long will it take?

Citrix Consulting are here to help answer these questions and get you started on your way to desktop virtualization. For years, Citrix Consulting has been successfully delivering Desktop Virtualization Projects to our customers, and we’ve compiled all that experience, best practices, and tricks of the trade into the Desktop Transformation Assessment (DTA). The DTA forms an integral part of the overall Desktop Transformation Model and provides clear guidance on the steps needed to turn “Wow” into “How”.

I’ve been lucky enough to use the DTA in the field and, through a series of blog posts, I’d like to share the process behind the DTA and some of the lessons learned on customer sites.

So first things first, let’s take a high-level look at the seven main phases of the DTA:

  1. Define Business Priorities: The first step in the DTA is to define and prioritize the key business drivers behind the desktop transformation initiative – including flexibility, budgetary constraints, redundancy, security, etc. By identifying these drivers, you’ll start outlining the key inputs needed for your High-Level Design.
  2. Application Assessment: Once the key business priorities have been established, you’ll need to review the application estate to determine the most appropriate delivery mechanism(s) for each application.  The characteristics assessed should include architecture, performance, compatibility, dependencies, location of backend data and peripherals.  There are a variety of third-party tools that can be leveraged for this purpose.  The application delivery models available include local install, application streaming, published applications and VM hosted apps.
  3. User Segmentation: The next step is to divide users up into different groups based on common criteria – including primary location, performance requirements, application set, mobility requirements, redundancy requirements, business value, etc. This will allow you to assign an appropriate FlexCast model to each user group based on the requirements identified.
  4. Capabilities Assessment: Now that you have the business priorities and user segmentation done, you’ll need to review the existing environment to determine current capabilities – for example you may find that you can leverage an existing storage solution or XenApp environment. You’ll also want to assess any planned projects and initiatives so that they can be accommodated within the High-Level Design. And of course you need to capture and prioritize any potential risks that could affect the success of the proposed transformation.
  5. High-Level Design: Now that you’ve gathered the background information, and accounted for future projects, you’re ready to create a High-Level Design that incorporates the different FlexCast models identified during the user segmentation. In this phase you’ll need to detail the hardware, storage, networking and software infrastructure required.
  6. Desktop Transformation Roadmap: Now you’re ready to build a roadmap that prioritizes the implementation order for the different user groups by comparing their time to value (the amount of time required to implement the chosen FlexCast model within the current environment) against their business value (the importance of the user group to the company).
  7. High-Level Project Plan: And of course the final stage is building the High-Level Project Plan that will document the steps required to move from the Desktop Transformation Project to user rollout. This plan should include a Detailed Design, Testing Schedule, Rollout Plan, Project Dependencies, Key Milestones, Internal/External Resources Required, etc.

So that’s a top-level outline of the major DTA phases – thanks for reading. Please check back soon for a deeper look at the first step in the DTA – how to Define Business Priorities.

Andy Baker – Architect
Worldwide Consulting
Desktop & Apps Team
Virtual Desktop Handbook
Project Accelerator