Simon Townsend, chief technologist at AppSense, draws-up a roadmap for a fruitful virtualisation journey
While the majority of virtualisation deployment projects have historically been undertaken to cut costs, it is an inconvenient truth that many fail to achieve this goal due to lack of user acceptance.
In my experience most enterprises make the choice to deploy virtual desktops and applications with a single goal in mind: lowering their costs. Indeed this was verified by research that AppSense carried out with Forrester earlier this year, surveying 300 IT professionals internationally, confirmed that the primary driver at the outset of most virtualisation deployments is cost savings (33 percent).
The problem is that this approach fails to take into consideration the most important element of any IT deployment: the user. As a result many projects are delayed or go over budget by trying to rectify user dissatisfaction. It will come as no surprise that the most cited reason for virtualisation project failure is lack of user acceptance due to a poor user experience (75 percent) and that the Forrester report into the findings recommended that getting the user-experience right should be at the heart of any virtualisation deployment.
While cost savings matter, organisations tend to find that desktop and application virtualisation contribute something far more valuable to their companies: reinventing the way their workers conduct business. Employees are engineering a revolution in work styles: they’re always thinking of new and better ways to work – how to spend less time on things that don’t matter and more time on things that do.
This is perhaps why our research found that cost savings ultimately did not determine the success of the deployment. It showed that virtualising desktops and applications contributed far more valuable benefits to companies. Virtualisation ultimately reinvented the way their employees conducted business by making them better equipped to work in public places; while travelling; when at home; and from personally owned devices.
60 percent of organisations surveyed reported that the success of their project ultimately relied upon end-user satisfaction and acceptance of the solution. This highlights that the benefits of virtualisation can only be truly realised when the solutions are deployed correctly, with the focus being on delivering the best possible user experience. So what are the key component for a successful physical to virtual migration? And how can that all-important positive user experience be achieved?
Make the user experience your prime objective
As most IT managers eventually realise, the value of virtualisation comes from improved workforce enablement, not primarily from a reduction in cost. Those organisations that put user experience first saw productivity increase (51 percent) and enhanced employee satisfaction (34 percent). Put employee use cases first when building the plan and don’t cut corners where user-experience may end up being compromised. Trading the productivity of the organisation as a whole for small gains in IT efficiency is a false economy.
Put together an overlay team to deploy
Any physical to virtual project team must have the skillset and expertise to cover the competencies of desktop, server, network, and storage. Hold the core team members accountable for the quality of their work in each phase of the project, alignment with executive and key stakeholder objectives, to meet project milestones and commitments.
Invest in Infrastructure
With user experience in mind, organisations need to select the tools that will boost application performance, including faster networks, shared graphics processing units and WAN optimisation. Fundamentals still matter, so businesses need to allow for ample server density planning and invest in tools that will make managing profiles, privileges, and policies easier. Virtualisation can improve multiple areas of a business with respondents reporting faster disaster recovery (41 percent) and better security (29 percent) as a result of deploying on the best possible infrastructure. By investing in areas that will accelerate user acceptance, such as application and personality persistence, elevated rights management technology for installing software, and employee self-service, will ultimately end-up helping an organisation achieve their cost saving goals.
Bring in a partner to train and assist
Training users to use the tools and platform the business has selected, will increase user acceptance and drive flexible work styles throughout the organisation. The value of training is underlined by the fact 75 percent of respondents said that user acceptance was the biggest roadblock to success, with a third of IT managers saying they would have invested in training if they could start their deployment again from scratch. If training isn’t a core competency in the company, bringing in a partner to communicate, teach, and evangelise could be critical to the success of the deployment.
By focusing on user experience and ensuring user acceptance, organisations will find that their virtualisation deployments face fewer technical issues, achieve greater user acceptance, and realise cost saving goals – 70 percent of respondents stated that they were ultimately satisfied with the financial returns once they got the user experience right. The key take-away is this: when organisations make user-experience the vehicle of choice for their physical to virtual migration not only is the journey smoother but they reach their destination far quicker.
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