The Desktop Transformation Assessment (DTA) forms an integral part of the overall Desktop Transformation Model (DTM) by providing clear guidance on how to turn “Wow” into “How”.  During this series of blog posts, I’m discussing the seven key phases that make up the DTA:

  1. Define Business priorities
  2. Application Assessment
  3. User Segmentation
  4. Capabilities Assessment
  5. High-Level Design
  6. Desktop Transformation Roadmap
  7. High-Level project plan

I recently described the process behind the application assessment and provided an overview of the different characteristics that should be analyzed.  Now it’s time to start the user segmentation process, which separates out the user community into different groups based on a common set of criteria.

So, where should you start?  I recommend creating a master user list that includes job role, location, application set and mobility requirements.  The Microsoft CSDVE utility can be leveraged to export user details from Active Directory into a CSV file.  Each user or job role is then analyzed so that it can be assigned to an appropriate user group.  The characteristics used to define each user group will vary between projects, but typically include the following:

  • Primary Location. If users are hosted across multiple active data centers, it may be necessary to assign a primary data center to each user group.  The selection of a primary data center is typically based on user location or the location of backend resources.  For example, on a recent project separate user groups were created for a number of job roles based on whether the primary data center was in the United States or Canada.
  • Application Set. Members of a user group don’t necessarily need to share the same applications, especially when application streaming is used.  However, all installed applications should at least be compatible with each other.  The complete list of applications required should be identified so that an appropriate performance rating can be assigned.
  • Performance Requirements. Each user group should be classified based on the level of performance required (light, normal, power and heavy).  I typically provide an overall performance rating per user group based on the performance requirements of the application set.  The performance rating will influence the FlexCast model selected and the resources allocated.
  • Offline Access. Job roles that require offline access are good candidates for a Local VM FlexCast model and/or application streaming (depending on the compatibility results from the application assessment).  It’s important to establish whether the applications required offline can function without network connectivity.
  • Redundancy Requirements. Separate out user groups based on their criticality to the business so that an appropriate level of redundancy and disaster recovery can be allocated during the High-Level Design.

Now that you know the main characteristics of each user group, it’s time to assign an appropriate FlexCast model that is capable of meeting their individual needs.  Here are the options:

  • Local VM. Delivers a centrally managed desktop image to physical end point devices allowing the user to disconnect from the network.  These types of desktops are usually required by sales, consultants and executives.
  • Streamed VHD. Leverages the local processing power of rich clients, while providing centralized single-image management of the desktop. These types of desktops are often used in computer labs and training facilities, and when users require local processing for certain applications or peripherals.
  • Hosted VDI. Offers a personalized Windows desktop, typically needed by office workers, which can be securely delivered over any network to any device. Hosted VDI desktops can be dedicated or shared among many users. These virtual desktops can be physical or virtual, but are connected to remotely.
  • Hosted Shared. Provides a locked down, streamlined and standardized environment with a core set of applications, ideally suited for task workers where personalization is not needed or allowed.
  • VM Hosted Apps. VM hosted apps allows applications that are not compatible with multi-user operating systems to be installed centrally on a single-user Windows operating systems and delivered seamlessly via an ICA session.

I find that a spreadsheet is the easiest way to present the information collected, for example:

Although the user segmentation phase of the DTA can seem complicated when you’re first setting out, it’s really all about collecting and organizing the data. Hopefully this outline will make the task seem a bit less daunting and help you through your next User Segmentation.  Check back soon for details on the next step in the DTA – Capabilities Assessment.

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