Is this your VDI implementation? Epic FAIL.

I suppose it’s that time of year again…the reappearance of green foliage, warm temperatures, and nerdy IT tradeshows – which means that I need to come out of hibernation and throw out my annual blog.

With the recent Citrix acquisition of AppDNA, I find myself answering the same question for analysts, pundits, and customers alike – why?  Over the course of the past couple of months as I have dutifully tried to avoid complete assimilation into the “big corporate” culture, I have found that the best way to talk about the strategic value of AppDNA to the Citrix VDI implementation story is through analogy…and that is what I am planning on doing in today’s blog.  They say, write what you know, and as it turns out, I know parties.

Let’s start with the premise that planning and executing a successful VDI implementation is on par with planning and executing a successful party.  The first thing that you have to come to grips with – this party is not for you, but rather for the target audience.  It will not be cheaper than stumbling along with the status quo (which is your current IT infrastructure), so if you are under that assumption, you are off to a bad start.  Instead, you are throwing the party to bring your friends together so that you can have them get to know each other, talk about how amazing you are for throwing the party, and recoup numerous favors from them at a later date (soft costs).  The same is true of VDI implementation – chances are that it won’t be cheaper up front, but it provides flexibility, mobility, and rich end user experience without sacrificing security.  Let’s face it…everyone wants to look super-awesome in meetings with their iPads.  The gist of this rambling is simple – know what the business drivers/benefits behind VDI look like for your enterprise, otherwise don’t even bother planning.

Now…on to the planning.

Guest List – User Segmentation

Now that you have decided to move forward with your party, we have to figure out what the guest list looks like.  Am I going to invite my degenerate high school friends, frat boy college buddies, co-workers, executive management, or diplomats?  Same goes for the VDI planning process – if we are looking to plan a tiered rollout, we need to understand what parts of the org are up first.  Getting the guest list finalized is easy enough, but understanding what they will need in order for you to throw a successful party is where the real planning comes into play.  Is this a red solo cup party where I can throw out 2 kegs of Natty light and call it a day?  Or will I need some nice vintage Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernets with beautiful stemware?  Perhaps a selection of rocks glasses for those that choose to have their two fingers of scotch neat?  Will I need slices of limes or bleu cheese stuffed olives?

It’s VDI o’clock…do you know who your users are?? Professionals, air band artists…or both? (Yes, these guys will be at Synergy).

Think of these scenarios as use cases for your target audience when planning the VDI delivery models.  Is this going to be an offline user that thrives in a mobile environment?  Will the users only be using their iPads to execute transactions on the retail floor?  Is it someone that is always connected and doesn’t have grotesque hardware requirements?  Taking the time to understand and plan for these use cases upfront will ensure that you have the right materials for a successful “party”.

Here is where the challenge becomes a bit more unclear – what if someone falls into multiple use cases?  For instance, on a hot summer afternoon, I have no problems crushing 12 Miller Lites, but if I am having a nice dinner, I might want to start with a vodka on the rocks, splash of soda, and bleu cheese stuffed olives followed by a dry red wine with dinner, and a single malt Lagavulin 16 as a nightcap (incidentally, if you run into me at Synergy or Summit, these are all drinks I enjoy if you are buying).  The point to take away form this is not that I enjoy the occasional cocktail(s), but rather I can be a fairly tricky use case.  VDI user segmentation is no different.  With the proliferation of “connected devices” and the move toward user centric computing, IT really needs to be on their toes to understand the architecture/delivery streams that need to be in place to quench all of these thirsts.

Now it’s time for the teaser.  Stay tuned for next week’s blog when I tell you how the bartender known as AppDNA can help mix the right drinks/stemware for any party.

Until then, check out the no-charge Desktop Transformation Accelerator and Lakeside tool to assess who are your users and what they like to drink (aka which apps/devices are important to them?).

For those of you that will be attending Citrix Synergy in San Francisco, I would love to hear about your VDI planning experience(s).  You can find me blasting words at the following Synergy breakout sessions.