Implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure is no small undertaking. Thousands of decisions go into building such a system, each more critical than the next. In architecting a virtual desktop (VDI environment), a smart system architect will ask “What is the best solution for the environment?” An even smarter architect will ask, “Does the solution meet the end user’s needs?"
And the brilliant Citrix architects will look at all eleven systems your virtual desktop infrastructure will interact with (storage, group policy, network infrastructure, etc.) and make sure every system is optimized for virtual desktop delivery before the first desktop rolls out.
If Citrix logins are longer than 30 seconds, we call that broken. The good news is we can help you fix it.
Your workers — your computer users — of course, are the backbone of your business. Building an environment that meets business goals is useless if it does not also meet the needs of the folks who will be using it. And consider that you probably have different categories of workers. Task workers, for example, will likely have different needs than “power” or “knowledge” workers.
As you’re architecting your network, research your company’s user types. Go talk to them. What’s important to each? Is a fast login time important? Is it eliminating multiple sign-ons? Are you providing the right tools for each user? Can they use their favorite web browser? Do graphics load quickly? How are they going to print? Where do they need to print to? Will they want to work from outside of the office?
If you fail to consider users’ needs, you’ll suffer the consequences:
- Decreased productivity — Frustrated users don’t get as much done. Whatever the cause of the frustration — login times, slow applications, inadequate graphics rendering — they'll accomplish less not only because of the problems, but also because they’re just mad and tend to stew about it rather than working. Getting the user experience wrong is the single worst thing you can do. The pushback will start immediately and the IT department will be public enemy No. 1.
- Increased errors — Frustrated, angry users aren’t thinking straight. They make mistakes. Mistakes hurt your business.
- Increased support costs — You’ll spend a fortune helping users try to use a flawed system. Ticket counts will go up, your staff will get busier, projects will start to lag, you will think that you need more staff. The team gets more and more reactive as project dates begin to slip. Done right, your support costs should be considerably less expensive in terms of staff requirements and time to manage. If your VMware or Citrix virtual environment is not performing as advertised, it is not the technology, it is likely the design or deployment.
- Increased training costs — You’ll spend a fortune training users try to use a flawed system. Virtual desktops and/or virtual application delivery does not have to be a complex exercise. The more time you spend building simplicity of function into the experience the more you will be rewarded with reduced training and onboarding costs.
- Decreased job satisfaction — You don’t really want a building full of unhappy workers, do you? They are not just unhappy, mind you, they are unhappy with you and the negative impact you are having on their ability to get their jobs done. Best way to mitigate this problem? Go hang out with them. Learn all of your use cases and understand what it is like to be them. I bet it will open your eyes.
- Increased employee turnover — Knowledge workers are in demand. Good ones are hard to find and can be harder to keep. Great ones can work anywhere, and they know it. You certainly don’t want to be training new employees every 6 months because the old ones can’t stand working in a miserably slow and buggy VDI environment.
As you can see, failing to completely consider users’ needs can lead to some fairly dire consequences and a whole lot of expense and time spent where there should have been significant savings.
Understand your use cases first-hand if possible, and get a good architecture built on a hardware platform that is highly available. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp are only as good as the software/hardware/network infrastructure they are built on.
At Whitehat, we apply more than 400 modifications to the networks we build and manage to make sure every interrelated system, from mass storage to Active Directory/Group Policy are optimized for the best user experience possible.
Done right, login times can be less than 10 seconds. Some environments have a lot of overhead that makes sub-10-second-login times impossible, but, regardless of environment, login times should never be longer than 30 seconds.
If your login experience is longer than 30 seconds, we would call that broken. The good news is we can help you fix it. The better news is that if you take us up on our Citrix 30 Second Challenge, our work might be free.