Next Generation IT and VDI. Some thoughts

IT can’t continue to focus on the device, it needs to focus the user persona virtualization to be able to move across the multitude of devices/connection methods out there and on delivering the right applications to the user no matter what device they use.  As it relates to the device-centric conversations that are happening these days I think Citrix had a great way to put this as it relates to ubiquitous access and that is, “Snack, Dine, and Create”.  Develop solutions that take these user access/device scenarios into account and you have a solution that meets the needs of everyone in the enterprise.

The majority of the CIOs on the CIO Executive Series call last week were concerned with the “nuts and bolts” of VDI, i.e. Storage, Security, etc. which again I think they are getting too far into the technical weeds and not enough at the higher levles that they need to be at.  They need to be more focused on the business value benefits of virtual desktops and how it can help drive growth and allow for improved performance/productivity.  They are so focused on the “nuts and bolts” that they aren’t developing the Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation.  This will eventually end up in the typical IT Sisyphean struggle that IT always ends up dealing with.  Most CIOs and IT executives today prefer the “what is” as opposed to the innovation path of “what could be”.  Traditional IT executives are not willing to spend time in the “dragon gap”.  They are under the illusion that the solution to a problem exists in the past, therefore all we have to do is reach back and grab a solution from the “solution shelf” as if we were buying a pair of pants from the read to wear rack.  This does not work in this era of the consumerization of IT.

I spoke of the Service Strategy dilemma that CIOs now face as it relates to VDI.  A lot of the contention that organizations are seeing with virtual desktops (in whatever flavor they use) can be mitigated by actually following some ITSM processes.  With the right service strategy these points of contention can be better understood and handled along with possibly forming a new organization within IT to handle this technology (again covering whatever flavor of virtual desktops are used).

In my opinion all Virtual desktop solutions should be gathered under one new organization within IT.  At this point the organization needs to follow a very standard phased approach, starting with.

1.      Service Strategy Phase: Whereby the new organization within IT determines the needs, priorities, demands and relative importance for a virtual desktop service. The organization then needs to identify the value being created through a virtual desktop service and the predicted financial resources required to design, deliver and support them.

2.      Service Design Phase: Here is really where the rubber starts to meet the road.  The architecture teams kick off the design for the infrastructure, the processes and the support mechanisms needed to meet the availability requirements of the customer.  By engaging the necessary teams and individuals at this juncture of the Service Design, the “turf wars” can be minimized if not completely mitigated.

3.      Service Transition Phase:  With the right teams and individuals assembled and working together, they can then validate that the Service meets the functional and technical fitness criteria to justify release to the customer.

4.      Service Operation Phase: Here is where the creation of the new organization within IT would/should be responsible for all current and future flavors of virtual desktops from server-based computing on down to the client-side hypervisor desktop virtualization that is coming.  This new organization would be responsible for the monitoring of the ongoing availability being provided. During this phase they would also manage and resolve incidents that affect Service Availability.

5.      Continual Service Improvement Phase: The new organization then ties directly into the team that manages and coordinates the collection of data, information and knowledge regarding the quality and performance of services supplied along with Service Management activities performed. Service Improvement Plans are developed and coordinated to improve any aspect involved in the management of virtual desktop services with the new support and operational team.

These steps would lead eventually to the re-architecture of the obsolete IT business model we have today and better enable IT to adapt to the change that the business needs.

The conversation needs to be elevated to beyond the device-centric and mobility conversation to the user persona virtualization and service oriented aspects.  IT needs to stop prognosticating about the trends and start developing the next generation IT organization to keep up with those trends and stop being the “department of No”.

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3 thoughts on “Next Generation IT and VDI. Some thoughts

  1. Pingback: Hier raak ik nou opgewonden van! « RES Software Nederland

  2. Hello Michael,
    Thank you for your blog posting. This is a topic that is near and dear to me. Since 2005, I have implemented and supported various flavors of VDI in both the Enterprise and SMB sectors and I agree 100% with you. There is entirely too much emphasis on each product in the VDI stack that often times, the business requirements get diluted to the point that the entire reason for doing VDI is completely forgotten. Then, IT does as it always has – Lumber along, firefight, come in over budget, and ultimately late on delivery to the ever present user rejection phase, or as the users put it “This Sucks”.
    I also love that marketing slogan that Templeton used at Synergy last year. However, instead of “Snack, Dine, & Create”, it should be “SNACK, DINE, & FEAST”.
    What IT managers and executives need to realize is the benefits to the business through the autonomy of endpoints. Let the technologist worry about the products. More importantly though, technologists, engineers, and operations personnel must realize why the business is implementing said technology. It is not because it is cool. It is to enable users to perform their work more efficiently to ensure maximum revenue generation. This was a much missed point in IT from 1996-2004. Many shops built these little IT consulting companies within their organization. It got to the point where it became more about IT than the product of the actual company. No wonder ITIL and out-sourcing became so popular!
    Lastly, along with the complete ITSM stack you mentioned, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of delivering applications and not desktops. The users, customers, and owners do not care how slick your build is or how fast you VMs boot if they cannot access the applications they need to get work done. A clever and over engineered SBC solution will not make up for a poor network design or lackluster back-end server infrastructure. In all the Citrix installations I have done, at the end of the day I always seem to be an expert in application XYZ. As a Citrix engineer I think I have spent more time re-engineering poorly implemented application topologies than actually supporting XenApp. 
    Clean your house, think about your Apps first, leverage the ITIL framework and then think about giving your users the flexibility and autonomy of a cool and slick VDI solution, all whilst keeping your eye on those business requirements!

  3. Nice description 🙂
    Can you kindly tell me what are the complexities faced in each of the virtual desktop solution ITIL stages you described?
    Like how uncertainty creeps during the service strategy phase of VDI?
    how heteroginity creeps during the service design phase of VDI? etc

    Thank you

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