This is a question that comes up repeatedly during VDI conversations, the short answer is yes but hopefully over this post I will explain why the importance of this task should not be taken lightly.
What is a Desktop Assessment?
What are the most commonly used programs? Who uses HD streaming video? Who requires access to assets after the normal workday? All are example questions you should know the answer to before starting on changing your desktop estate.
A Desktop Assessment is a set of workshops, questionnaires, and desktop monitoring software that allows to you to retrieve, collate and analyse data about how the desktop estate is running but more importantly how it is used and by whom.
What is the point of one?
A Desktop Assessment is the detective work of a VDI project, it helps to ascertain the following
- How suitable the environment would be for Virtual Desktops
- What User Workload Scenarios exist within the environment
- Identify Business Applications and expected end devices
- Process maturity and suitability.
- Feeds into EUC Strategy
Would you let a mechanic start work on your car without an estimate?
To me this is part of what a Desktop Assessment is meant to solve, you wouldn’t expect kit or a project to be signed off without an understanding that it is suitable. Granted in greenfield sites it may be possible to design from scratch, but in an established environment, to start without an assessment is guesswork. It may well be educated guesswork, but it is still guesswork you would be presenting to your stakeholders.
Use Cases are EUC gold.
Understanding user cases, their work habits, and their applications can make or break a Desktop Strategy. At the end of the day a desktop is the users main contact into the business. Get it wrong or not consider their needs and it will come back to bite you. When IT gets it wrong, users generally don’t forget it (rightly so). No one wants to be the person who put in “that” project.
Admins don’t know their Business users
It’s a simple truth but one that is not readily acknowledged. Administrators lives are run around infrastructure and the pain points of said infrastructure, they generally don’t know what the HR department uses their PC for through their work day, or that the Sales department have a need for streaming video. An administrator might understand that a higher specification pc is required for certain apps, but applications are only part of the story when considering the holistic view of a use case.
Use Case has No case
In most businesses, use cases are simply not understood or how important they can be for EUC. Sadly when a project has them on the agenda to be collected they are usually the first to go in an attempt to save budget or time.
Forget the workloads, think of the behaviours
A debate stirring statement but deliberately so. A lot of the desktop solution software focuses on what the actual Application and Image installs on the desktop currently are, and how they would be ported to a VDI environment. In most cases an image would not be forklifted into a new environment, however it is important to understand how the users are interacting with the workloads so that the new “Gold Images” can be created.
Exception to the rule
As always there are exceptions. There will be people out there that put in VDI or EUC solutions without any of this Desktop Assessment stuff, and hats off to them. I am not taking anything away from how those projects have been achieved. This simply serves as a reminder that as IT we sometimes overestimate what we know about the user population, and underestimate what damage we can do to their abilty to work (and our budget) if we don’t take stock of what we have, and what we need to achieve.