A VDI migration can deliver significant immediate and long-term benefits for your enterprise. Now for the bad news: your users will make or break the migration, regardless of the technical resources or tools that you throw at the project. Without the support of users, your VDI migration project will stutter, stumble, and fall. So, the secret to success is getting those users on board.
The question is how.
How do you get users on-side with a VDI migration project? How do you alleviate fears and anxieties? How do you ensure a good user experience not just with the new virtual desktop, but with the migration process?
Face Up to the Reality that You’re Starting from Behind the Start Line
The first point is to understand the user reality in most modern enterprise environments. The fact is people like having their own kit. They like the physical computer that sits on their desk. It’s what they know, they are familiar with its performance, and they are comfortable with how it operates.
Migrating to a VDI, on the other hand, is an alien concept. While your IT team and decision-makers involved in the project will be advanced in their thinking, you will be behind the starting line with a lot of your users. As a result, you’ll need an effective strategy to get them on board.
Communicate, Communicate Some More, and then Communicate Again
A core objective of your VDI migration plan should be to establish and foster a situation where the migration is being done with users, rather than to them. Effective communication is crucial to achieving this objective.
Communication with users should start as early in the process as possible. It then needs to be constant, with users informed of every significant milestone on the VDI migration journey.
It isn’t just about communicating progress, though, as it is also important to communicate practical support and guidance on how individual users can help the process and make it as smooth as possible. For example, cleaning up files or folders that are no longer necessary.
It’s also important to think about how you will communicate with users. In particular, how do you get that large proportion of users who rarely, if ever, open internal communications? How do you get those users to read or watch, and how do you encourage them to engage with the process? Tools like Symphony Signal can help, as Signal lets you communicate with employees directly on their desktops.
Finally on the communication point, users might express concerns or have queries the more they learn about the VDI migration plans. It’s important to answer these queries and address the concerns as part of your communications.
It’s All About End-User Salesmanship
A crucial part of the communications you send is to sell the benefits of the VDI migration for users. There are business and financial benefits as well, but what’s in it for users? How will their lives be made better? How will working from a virtual desktop change what they do?
The key message to get across is that a virtual desktop makes it possible to work from anywhere and on any device. All you need is access to the internet, and you can log in to your desktop. Users will also get the same user experience every time they log on.
When articulating these benefits, make them as relevant to users as possible. It’s also important to communicate the benefits to users at an individual as well as a global level. In fact, it’s more than communication – it’s salesmanship. Users need to be sold on the benefits of virtual desktops.
During this process, it is also important to strike the right balance between selling the benefits of virtual desktops and setting realistic expectations. For example, there are likely to be users who won’t benefit from the switch to a virtual desktop. For these users, it’s important to articulate the enterprise-wide benefits of the VDI project.
Furthermore, from our experience of VDI migration projects, the users who stand to benefit most from a VDI migration (remote and mobile employees) often experience the most challenges, usually due to poor internet connections when working remotely. It is helpful to explain this upfront and provide users with tips to alleviate the issues they may face.
Don’t Over Promise and Under Deliver
As in all areas of sales, it is easy to go too far, where you over promise and under deliver on the VDI’s capabilities. You need to think about this in relation to VDI performance (which we covered in a previous blog), in addition to the differences between persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops. A quick recap:
- Persistent VDI – persistent VDI is one-to-one, so all personalised settings remain every time a user logs on. However, persistent VDIs also require more storage and a different approach to backup and disaster recovery. Having a lot of persistent VDIs also adds IT management complexities.
- Non-persistent VDI – non-persistent VDIs are one-to-many, so there is a golden image of the desktop that is presented to all users whenever they log on. This means personalisation of the desktop is not possible, but security and management are both easier, and less storage is required.
- Non-persistent VDI with a persistent user experience – there is a middle ground scenario that is also an option in some situations. This is where you have a non-persistent VDI with many of the management and security benefits. However, there is also a persistent area within the virtual desktop where users can store data, personalise apps, and change other, limited settings.
Users familiar with a traditional desktop will be familiar with being able to personalise it. However, from our experience at Access IT Automation, only about 20 percent of the user estate in a VDI migration project end up with persistent VDIs. In other words, only 20 percent of users will be able to fully personalise their new virtual desktops. Depending on the application strategy you choose, there will also be a percentage of users who can personalise some aspects of their virtual desktop. This needs to be understood, explained, and managed.
Finally on this point, the importance of fully understanding your application estate cannot be overstated. You need to understand the applications that are required in your organisation and how those applications are used. From there, you can accurately size your VDI to ensure it meets current and future needs. Without going through this process, you will be constantly chasing your tail, continually purchasing additional resources to deliver an acceptable level of performance to users.
Don’t Forget About Training
It’s also important to identify users who will need additional training. This won’t apply to everyone, but there will be users who feel anxious about the upcoming VDI migration. By providing training, you can prevent frustration once the migration is complete and improve user satisfaction levels.
Be Like Maverick in Top Gun on Alert Five
At the end of the first Top Gun movie, Tom Cruise’s character Maverick is not included in the initial team that is sent into battle. Instead, he sits in his plane on the aircraft carrier in a state known as Alert Five, i.e., he is ready to launch and provide support within five minutes.
You don’t need a fighter jet for a VDI migration, and you don’t necessarily need to provide support within five minutes. However, it is essential that you have systems and tools in place to react quickly when VDI migration users request support. With tools like Symphony Assistant and Symphony Agent, you can even automate parts of the support process. Not even Maverick could do that!
Monitor Adoption Rates and App Performance
Ongoing monitoring of essential metrics like user adoption rates and app performance data can help you identify user experience issues before a ticket is raised. The aforementioned Symphony Agent product can again help with this part of the VDI migration process.
Getting User Buy-In
User buy-in to a VDI migration project is not guaranteed. In fact, without an effective plan, it is much more likely to be the opposite. That said, it is possible to not only get the buy-in that you need, but also get to a situation where users support and facilitate the migration process. That should be the objective of your VDI migration strategy.