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Desktop and application virtualization: Convincing management and end users

Learn how to discuss desktop and application virtualization's benefits and how to pitch them to upper management as well as end users.

Communicating the benefits of new technologies, like desktop and application virtualization, is hard as there aren't many examples to cite. An IT manager told me that usually choosing and implementing the technology is easy; but getting all impacted users and departments actively involved is not.

This often-reported problem has inspired my new series in which I pass on advice from and examples of IT managers who have successfully deployed new virtualization technologies.

In this tip, I'll discuss desktop and application virtualization's benefits and how to pitch them to upper management and users. I'll follow this tip with another on managing virtual desktops and applications, specifically thoughts from IT managers who are in the thick of it. I discuss challenges, pros, cons, and what they would have done differently. If you have application or desktop virtualization project advice to share, please email me via editor@searchvmware.com.

Corporate managent and desktop/application users

There are two constituents that need to be communicated with and involved in any major infrastructure overhaul like desktop and application virtualization and consolidation: corporate management and the desktop/application users. As the IT manager of a large cable company said, the technical solution is the easy piece, and all departments impacted should be actively involved in the entire process.

Data center managers are commonly used to communicating with corporate management, but not necessarily with end users. It's no different. Detail the efficiency and financial benefits that will be gained by moving to a virtualized desktop and application architecture. You will need to perform a detailed analysis of how you expect the change will affect the bottom line in your company. Below are some areas where other companies have achieved great benefits:

  • Centrally managed desktops and applications
    • Increases desktop and application management efficiency
    • Lowers the cost of having to send or hire personnel to manage multiple sites
  • Secures corporate applications and data
  • Provides greater infrastructure scalability
  • Allows for better software license management
    • Possible savings on user licenses
    • Applications provided based on business need
  • Eases ability to create a managed redundant, load-balanced infrastructure
  • Can lower power requirements at each desktop thereby lowering total corporate power consumption
  • Ability to easily support telecommuting
    • Increased cost of gasoline leads to increased costs for employees
    • Reduced corporate space, power, cooling/heating needs
  • Secure desktop access anytime, from anywhere
  • Better utilization of resources
  • Possible cost savings on IT technology when done at refresh intervals

These are just a few of the corporate-based benefits to consider within your own environment. The challenge is in how you communicate the benefits of consolidating desktops and applications to the corporate employees who will be using this new environment. The answer, of course, is to know the needs and concerns of the users.

Communicating the benefits

Those needs are likely to be different for each of the departments within the company, and there may be some departments where there is only partial consolidation of desktops and applications, such as engineering groups. Here are a few of the benefits end-users have gained from a consolidated desktop and application environment.

  • New desktops can be provisioned more quickly. One IT manager relayed that the time it takes to provision new desktops has gone from 30 minutes or more to about 10 minutes. This means that new employees get online quicker and current employees can transition to new jobs within the company and be productive right away.

  • If the consolidated desktop and application implementation includes the use of thin clients on the desktop, this provides the employee with more room in their office as well as less heat and noise.

  • Ability to access your desktop anywhere/anytime allows employees to easily access their desktop environment at every company office, no matter where the office is located without having to haul a heavy laptop around with you everywhere you go.

  • This environment provides support for employees to work from home, using their own home computers while accessing their corporate desktop and applications all while protecting corporate data assets. When employees can work from home, it reduces the need and cost to commute to work. With gasoline prices at an all-time high, commutes can cause a real hardship to some employees.

  • Reduce wait time to gain access to new applications – If the application is already in-house, gaining access requires nothing more than a modification to an access list. No more waiting for IT to arrive and load the application onto your desktop.

Benefits may vary with each environment but overall, desktop and application consolidation provides compelling improvements for both the corporation and end user. Communicating these benefits is the first step in creating a successful consolidation project.

About the Author: Anne Skamarock, Research Director at Focus Consulting, has been involved with computers and associated technology for nearly 30 years. She has worked as a software engineer, technical sales, marketing and management for both large and start-up systems and storage companies such as SRI, International, Sun Microsystems, Solbourne Computer, and StorageTek. She has recently finished her second book as co-author of Blades and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs.

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