The success of a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) migration project largely rests on user experience. If users are happy with their new virtual desktops, the project is more likely to be a success. At the very least, a happy user is a user that has experienced no significant drop in performance and is able to complete all their tasks with a minimum amount of friction.
VDI migration soft landings are crucial to ensuring users are happy with their new virtual desktops. As a result, soft landings are also important to ensuring the success of your VDI migration project.
What is a VDI migration soft landing? To understand the concept, we first need to look at UAT – User Acceptance Testing.
The Challenges of UAT In VDI Migration Projects
UAT involves testing how new virtual desktops perform in real-world conditions. In an ideal scenario, you would complete UAT before deploying any virtual desktops to users. The aim would be to identify and resolve any and all issues before they get anywhere near a user.
However, the stark reality is that this ideal scenario is not possible. In fact, it isn’t even possible to get close to this ideal scenario. There are tools available that automate all or part of the testing process, but even those tools can’t automate everything.
Replicating the Activity of Users
The reason it is impossible to comprehensively automate UAT is because there will always be unique scenarios that are difficult and often impossible to anticipate. After all, every user is different:
- People in your organisation will use different applications, opening them in different orders, and using varied numbers of apps at the same time
- Different virtual desktops will need to interact with different peripherals, including monitors and printers
- Boot-up times and log-on times are crucial user experience considerations, and both can be impacted by a variety of factors
Then there is the objective of UAT. At its core, UAT is about what people think. There are technical metrics and performance results, of course, but UAT is much more nuanced than simply being a question of technical performance. Instead, you are dealing with the opinions, feelings, and thoughts of people.
So, UAT comes with challenges that make it impossible to tick a box saying the process is complete before virtual desktop deployments begin. Instead, there will come a time in your VDI migration project when you have deployed virtual desktops to users knowing that you haven’t been able to test every possible scenario.
This puts you in a position of real-world UAT, where users are testing the performance, capabilities, and functionality of their new virtual desktop while they are using the desktop to complete their tasks. When they encounter a problem, it not only identifies an issue with the virtual desktop performance, but it can also interrupt the user’s ability to complete the tasks they have been assigned.
When working with physical infrastructure, the situation described above was often very painful. When a user got a new PC or their operating system was upgraded, there was no option but to use a big-bang approach, i.e., remove the old PC and replace it with the new one. Once the change was made, that was it; there was no going back.
The virtual nature of virtual desktops provides an alternative option – the VDI migration soft landing.
VDI Migration Soft Landings
At Access IT Automation, our experience is to utilise VDI migration soft landings as much as possible. This is where users keep their existing machine and the new virtual desktop at the same time. This could be for a period of two weeks, for example. During this time, the virtual desktop can be used and tested, with the previous machine available if problems are encountered.
This is where Access Capture’s Testing feature really comes into its own. It offers automated functionality to assess the performance of apps after they have been packaged in a modern format. It also offers self-service UAT tools that users can utilise during this soft-landing period, enhancing the overall testing process and ensuring productivity levels are maintained.
Then, once the user is happy with their new virtual desktop, the old machine can be taken away.
Demonstrating the Benefits of VDI
Using our VDI migration soft landing approach helps to get users onboard with the overall project by allaying fears and building trust. It is a solution to UAT that doesn’t treat this part of the process as a purely technical challenge, but rather one that is focused on users. In other words, it facilitates a “users first, migration second” approach that is essential for successful VDI migrations.