The 7 Big, Bad Pitfalls of Desktop Virtualization Deployment


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The very avoidable ways things can go wrong (and how to avoid them).

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The 7 Big, Bad Pitfalls of Desktop Virtualization Deployment

  1. 1. The 7 Big,Bad Pitfallsof DesktopVirtualizationDeploymentThe very avoidable waysthings can go wrong(and how to avoid them)
  2. 2. IntroductionDon’tmess it up.But just because the why of desktopvirtualization is well-established doesn’tmean the how is always a given.The risk ofover-simplifyingDone properly and systematically,deploying virtual desktops is actually quitestraightforward. But that doesn’t mean it’sa ‘plug and play’ technology (it isn’t) or thatone flavor fits every situation (it doesn’t).The key is to think about your businessand make sure your strategy, deploymentplan and rollout program are right for yourspecific circumstances.That’s what this eBook is all about.It distills the expertise of our topconsultants and their experiences acrosstens of thousands of deployments intoseven simple tips.Desktop virtualization isn’t justa vendor vision any more.Today, it’s best practice for mainstreamenterprises of every size – and the benefitsare proven and documented.The business case varies by company buttends to include these drivers:Agility – virtual desktops deploy quicklyand pivot on a dimeManageability – faster provisioning,easier moves, changes, patching, testing,upgrading and migratingSecurity – with tighter control over thestuff that matters: your dataHappy users – with access to theirdesktop from anywhere (and almostany hardware)Some of the tips may seem like commonsense. And they are. But they’re also themost common mistakes that even themost experienced IT departments make– and we see them over and over again.The good news: desktop virtualization iseasy if you do it right.The better news: we’re here to help.The ProjectAcceleratorWe’ve captured even moreof our best-practice advice ina free project management &deployment toolset called theProject Accelerator.Answer a few questions inAccelerator and it will guide youthrough your deployment, fromAssess to Design to Deploy andManage. Including samplearchitectures, hardware estimatesand lots, lots more. Give it a
  3. 3. At Citrix, we preacha systematic, three-stageprocess for any desktopvirtualization rollout:AssessEstablish your goalsthen decide whichuser groups will bevirtualized and theorder that will deliverthe most value, quickly.DesignThink through yourvirtualization model,project architecture,hardware needs andinstallation issues –from Active Directory tostorage and networking.DeployBuild the foundationfor a great virtualdesktop experiencefor users, then roll itout methodically.A simple,three-stepmethodologyThe pitfalls discussed in the following pages tend to bethe result of a breakdown in this simple methodology.Introduction
  4. 4. The Pitfalls
  5. 5. If virtualization programs run intoproblems, it often comes down to thissimple issue: different people wentinto it for different reasons – and theynever resolved the agenda-clash.Unlike many IT projects, desktopvirtualization touches almost everydepartment – including networks,desktops, storage, security, data center,support and beyond. It’s important tobuild a team that includes all of these –and to make sure everyone agrees onthe goals.The truth is, there are many reasonsto virtualize your desktops. And almostevery decision you make as yourdeployment progresses will varybased on your goals.Prioritize your goals.Rank the main benefits – probablyincluding some of these:• Increase security• Support virtual work styles• Increase business agility• Improve device independence• Bring your own device• Branch expansionIf one team member or departmentis thinking it’s all about remote accesswhile another is driven primarily by securitygains, you could hit problems (and bothgoals could end up being compromised).Not starting with clearagreement on goalsActions• Run a goals capture andconsensus-building exerciseon Day One.• Come out with a prioritizedgoals list.• Include every IT departmentin your planning.• Make sure everyone agreesto the goals and priorities.• Post the goals on your projectintranet or collaboration space.Surfacing, prioritizingand aligning everyonearound an agreed setof goals is the first, mostimportant step in anyvirtualization program.
  6. 6. No two users are alike.Sales teams are very different fromengineers, accountants or traders. Eachgroup make different demands on theirdesktops and may need a very differentapproach to virtualization.Approaching desktop virtualizationas a ‘one size fits all’ exercise almostguarantees that some (if not all) of yourusers will be frustrated.Identify your distinctuser groups so youcan design the rightdeployment for each.Take the time to do this carefully andyou’ve dramatically improved yourchances of a successful deployment.The five dimensionsThere are five main things to think aboutwhen you identify and define user groups:Applications –what do they use, how much and why?Primary location –where do they spend most oftheir time?Mobility –do they need to work offline?Risk tolerance –what’s the business impact of downtime?Endpoint capabilities –thin client or the latest PC spec?Which peripherals are essential?Treating all yourusers alikeActions• Put a team together to focuson creating user groups.• Complete a needs matrix basedon the five dimensions.• Decide which group(s) tostart with, looking for fasttime to value.• Start mapping groups tothe different virtualizationdelivery models.
  7. 7. EnergyCompanyHealthcareCompanyFinanceCompanyGeophysicistsOffice 1Office 2Field Sales AppsComplexOffice apps + BillingOffice appsStandard office + CRMSimpleSimpleComplexOffice appsOffice + CRM + BankingComplexOffice + CRM + BankingSimpleLocationFieldHQHQRoadHQRoadHQHQHQ + BranchHQRoadBranchMobilityHighLowLowHighLowHighLowLowMediumLowHighLowRiskToleranceMediumLowHighMediumMediumHighLowLowMediumLowHighLowEndpointsTablets PC Thin client Laptops, TabletsThin clientLaptops, TabletsThin clientThin clientLaptops, TabletsThin clientLaptopsThin clientNurse Home Health NurseRadiologistTranscriptionistBank Manager Trader Financial ConsultantCashierExamples:
  8. 8. Beware of a vendor who wants tolump everyone into the exact sameflavor of virtualization. There aredifferent models to consider (wecall this FlexCast but you can callit ‘fit for purpose deployment’):• Remote PC – secure remote access tooffice-based PCs from any device. Aneasy option for companies who haven’tyet reached full desktop virtualization.Typical group: office workers who workremotely part time.• Hosted VDI – a personalized Windowsexperience, delivered over any networkto any device. Central management withfull personalization. Up to 150 desktopsper server.Typical group: product managementand administrative staff.Virtualizationdelivery models• Hosted Shared – locked down,streamlined and standardized ona core set of applications. Little or nopersonalization. Up to 500 users perserver. Big cost savings.Typical group: call center.• Local VM – centralized, single-instancemanagement with ability to use laptopsoffline. Auto-sync of OS, apps and dataon connect to a suitable network.Typical group: sales force.• Streamed VHD – leverage richclient processing power withcentralized single-image management.Easy, low-cost start-up that usesexisting PC resources to minimizedatacenter overhead.Typical group: government lab withsecure, specialized (and oftendiskless) hardware.A pause to talk about
  9. 9. Never buy hardwarebefore the Assessand Design phasesof your project.It’s important to estimate justhow many servers and how muchstorage you’ll need for yourvirtualization program.If you underestimate, you’ll either delivera poor user experience (with too manyusers per server) or be forced to go backto your sponsors for more budget (whichnever looks good).But if you overestimate your infrastructureneeds, you can kill the business casebefore you even get started.Failing to accuratelyestimate your hardwareneeds up frontThis is a classic mistake for first-timevirtualization teams and it’s easy to avoid.Just make sure you’re buying what youreally need – by going through a properAssess and Design process first.Actions• Hold off your hardwarepurchases until you’vecompleted your Assess andDesign processes.• Start your project in the ProjectAccelerator – it will guide yourAssess and Design phases andhelp with the resulting hardwareestimates.• Plan for extra capacity in case asingle controller fails. If the loadcalls for two controllers, deploythree (the N+1 rule).The virtualization plan and sizing chart breaks downyour needs by user group, and prioritizes how youroll out your virtualization environment.
  10. 10. Application migration is too often anafterthought in desktop virtualizationprograms. But apps are a criticallyimportant variable.The best-run virtualization program will stillstruggle – and users will revolt – if you can’tbring the business’s most important appswith you.Start with a surveyThe first step in understanding yourapplication estate is simply to know whatapps you have, who’s using them, howthey use them and how often.Automated survey tools can be essentialhere – but you’ll also want to validate yourfindings by sitting down with somerepresentative users and talking to themabout the applications they depend on.RationalizeA virtualization program is the idealopportunity to rationalize your applicationestate, killing off apps that no one uses orwhen a better alternative exists.A rigorous rationalization process canremove 20-40% of your applications,saving money on licensing and support– and saving you the time, money andeffort of migrating them to yourvirtualized platform.Failing to understandyour apps before migratingActions• Inventory your applicationsand their usage.• Work with users to determinewhich apps you want to keep.• Run a rigorous app-compattesting program to spotremediation needs early.The App-CompatimperativeIt’s important to make sure that allkey applications are compatiblewith virtualization before you gotoo far in any direction. At somepoint, you’ll need to test but there’sa fantastic applicationcompatibility tool that can speedup this process dramatically. It’scalled App-DNA and we liked it somuch we bought the company.Invest the time inanalyzing yourapplication estate andidentifying any appmigration problems.
  11. 11. When you move to virtual desktops,you’re not really migratingdesktops or applications – you’remigrating users.Get it wrong and you’ll hear a high-pitchedscreeching sound – that’s your businessgrinding to a halt.But get it right and you’ll have delivereda fantastic new experience to your users– and a new way of bringing IT tothe business.Selling the benefitsNobody likes change unless they see thereason for it. As the standard-bearer foryour virtualization program, you need tosell users on the advantages.Your user groups will help here. Map thebenefits of virtualization to each group’sneeds and ways of working. For roadwarriors, the ability to access a desktopfrom anywhere will be important. Forothers, you may want to emphasize theability to Bring Your Own Device; or workfrom home; or speed up changes.And don’t forget to tell users about thebenefits to the entire business. The morethey understand the goals, the moreon-board they’ll be.Leaving your usersout of the loopActions• Earmark time and budget foruser input, handover, training,education and support.• Manage expectations: don’tover-promise; tell it straight.• Test, test and test againto make sure you have the userexperience you need… beforeyou roll it out.Keep the userexperience central toyour program – andbring users along withyou step-by-step.Include users earlyThe best migration processes include timewith users before, during and after. And it’snot just for selling the change – it’s forlistening to their needs and learning aboutthe way they like to work.Time spent with users is always repaid.User experience testingNo amount of listening and handholdingwill help you if the user experience on thenew desktops is poor.Make sure you test the performance ofyour desktops before rolling them out tothe world. Get it right and you’ll deliver anexperience at least as good as their olddesktops – with lots of added benefits.
  12. 12. A Proof of Concept (PoC) is animportant step for most virtualizationprojects – to make sure you can standup a simple design with the hardwareand applications you expectto support.But a PoC is very different from a fullyscaled-up production environment.Unfortunately, many desktop virtualizationprojects go off the rails because theysimply scale up the basic PoC architectureand roll it out to a massive user base.Desktop virtualization is big news. It canbe tempting to get so excited about yourPOC that you simply promote it toproduction and let end users have at it…resist that temptation.And even when you do create a newdesign for your first roll-out, think in phasesinstead of one big leap. Your life will bemuch easier (and your deployments will bemuch more likely to stand up first time).Don’t just scale upyour Proof of ConceptActions• Design for a scalableenvironment not just a PoC.• Roll out in phases if you can.• Test each rollout phasewith proper resilience andscalability testing.• Use the Project Acceleratorto create an architecture andsizing plan.It’s critical to designfor scalability once yourbasic Proof of Conceptis done.
  13. 13. Businesses change. A lot.But many desktop virtualization programsseem to fixate on current needs only. Sothey out-grow the architecture far soonerthan they’d planned.Part of planning for the future is to lookat your entire virtualization programup-front – even if you’re starting witha single group and rolling out slowly.Knowing where you’re going will informsome short-term decisions.Not planningfor the futureBuild out your architecture based on the specific needs of each of youruser groups. This diagram (produced by Citrix’s Project Accelerator)illustrates how different user groups’ needs map to desktop deliverymodels and supporting infrastructure. Get this right, and you’ll havea robust platform to deliver your project.Think big.Start small.
  14. 14. Actions• Ask key line-of-business leadershow their world will change in thenext 12-24 months and make sureyou plan for it.• Get your bigger picture strategyin place before you do the designfor your first group.• Estimate the maximum userbase and plan your hardwareaccordingly.• Use the Project Accelerator toeasily create an ArchitectureOverview that incorporates all ofyour potential target user groups.Successful deployments are all abouttaking baby steps. That means startingwith a single use case and a small group ofusers. Most companies choose to startwith the easiest use case for the quickestwins. Others like to start with the hardestuse case to torture-test scalability andperformance issues.Not planningfor the futurePlan to scaleThe key is to always keep one eye on widerorganizational needs as well as the needsof each tactical group.Build your infrastructure in a way thatyou can easily scale it. For Citrixcomponents that is typically pretty easy,since you can just scale-out horizontally(i.e. add more controllers).For the underlying infrastructure, it takessome planning. You need to estimate themaximum number of users and plannetwork (i.e. subnet or throughput),storage (i.e. disk space or IOPS), rackspace and power accordingly. When youunderstand how to scale the infrastructureand where the bottlenecks could be, youcan build a good rollout plan.
  15. 15. The benefits of desktopvirtualization are beyond disputeand best-practice deploymentprocesses are also wellunderstood. But we still seeprojects that grind to a haltbecause they’ve fallen into oneof the pitfalls discussed here.You cando thisWe hope this summary of the 7 majorpitfalls will help you steer clear of theproblems and sail straight to value.Follow the three stepsTake your desktop transformation projectone step at a time and you’re much lesslikely to stumble:Assess – decide what you want to dofor which usersDesign – create the right architecturefor your users and goalsDeploy – implement your design, stepby step – testing for performance andscalability before going liveBest-practice advice for each step in thisprocess is captured in the free ProjectAccelerator – our web-based projectmanagement environment that guidesyou through each step, generatingrecommendations and plans specificto your needs. Give it a go.project.citrix.comConclusion
  16. 16. We’ve captured the best practices of ourtop consultants and packaged it up tomake every step easier.Answer a few questions about your usersand apps in the Assessment module andwe’ll generate your recommendedpriorities, models and designs – includinghardware estimates.About theProject AcceleratorProject Accelerator iswhere people like youmanage their move todesktop virtualization.The Assess sectionhelps you define andfocus your project.Try it right
  17. 17. When you’re done with theAssess section, downloadyour Virtualization Planand Sizing doc, plus anArchitecture diagram toget you started.Your Virtualization Plan Sizinggets you off to a great start.The Accelerator generates a five-layerArchitecture Overview for you.About theProject AcceleratorTry it right
  18. 18. MoreresourcesOur XenDesktop BlogFor best-practice advice fromsome of our top peopleThe XenDesktopSupport ForumThere’s not a lot this communitydoesn’t know about desktopvirtualizationThe XenDesktop DesignHandbookWith reference architectures,planning guides and lots moreThe Citrix Knowledge CenterDig in - we share everythingwe knoweDocumentationAll our documentation in aneasy-to-use formatThe Ask the Architect blogAn excellent team blog by someof the best in the businessPodioThe social collaboration platformthat you make your own.AppDNAThe application compatibilitytesting tool that accelerates andde-risks migration.
  19. 19. AboutCitrix ServicesWe’re Citrix consultants,teachers and supportengineers and we’re allabout one thing: makingsure you succeed.With our help, you’ll deploy high-performance, robustvirtualization and networking projects, faster and withdramatically lower risk and higher return.From free online tools and 24x7 support to intensivetraining, live events and deeply committed consultingengagements – we’re here for you.How we can helpCitrix ConsultingIntensive engagements for complex, critical or just plainmassive projects.Citrix SupportAlways-on support services that leverage everything weknow about best-practice deployment and maintenance.Citrix EducationThe fastest, most efficient way to get your team thevirtualization skills they need. Online, on-siteor in class.Plus free tools resources, including:The Knowledge CenterOnline forums, documentation andsupport resourcesCitrix Auto SupportThe automated online troubleshooter andhealth-checker.Be sure to check out Project Accelerator:Project AcceleratorThe project management environment for yourentire desktop virtualization project.