Keeping IT turf wars at bay with VDI

Desktop virtualization projects require changes in job functions and collaboration between teams. Frankly, that just freaks out some people.

The upheaval that desktop virtualization can bring to a traditional Windows enterprise calls for mental and emotional preparation on the part of nearly all teams in IT. Job functions change, and technologies overlap. It's not always pretty.

Citrix Systems recently said that one of the most common problems with deploying its XenDesktop package is getting the server, desktop, networking and even help desk folks to coordinate and cooperate. Ignoring this effort at unification could come at your peril.

One point of contention among IT staffers is accepting the technology in the first place. Some conservative IT pros don't believe in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and will rail against a virtualization project.

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"People get very emotional about virtualization in good ways and bad [because] virtualization brings about change," said Tony Wilburn, a desktop virtualization consultant at Arlington, Va.-based IT services company Betis Group Inc. "Those that are resistant to change have to be dragged into the future kicking and screaming."

And whether everyone supports virtualization or not, it's tough to get administrators to support the installation of a technology that directly affects their job functions. In fact, many companies look at desktop virtualization as a way to reduce or reallocate IT staffers, reports Enterprise Strategy Group.

Virtual desktops and land grabs
One IT manager at a large Omaha-based media company said his team's interest in the flexibility that virtual desktops can provide is often overshadowed by concerns about what the technology will require of each individual.

"I regularly remind them we are here to do what's best for the business and need to be receptive to change," said Dan Powers, IT manager at Cox Communications, which has virtualized desktops using VMware View and AppSense.

"Those who are closed-minded will have growing pains and may find themselves in job-impacting situations," he said. "Those who accept the changes that are coming will have opportunities to lead the charge and be the first in what will undoubtedly be a tide of new opportunities."

Betis Group's Wilburn said the entire support structure for a desktop and help desk teams must change, resulting in interpersonal tensions. "Problems usually stem from jealousy and misunderstandings," he said. "The desktop team is invariably frightened that this will be end of their job. And for many of them, it is the end of their job as they know it."

Since desktop virtualization moves desktops into the data center, it can provoke battles over territory. Should the desktop team set up the servers and pass them on to the desktop team, or does the desktop team get access to data center? And members of the networking team are a completely different story, Wilburn said.

"Unless they have been thoroughly coached on how virtualization works, it's hard for them grasp the changes," Wilburn said. "When you start troubleshooting an issue, the network team is going to point to an abnormally high amount of traffic coming from one server. From a virtualization point of view, that is to be expected, but it can be difficult to get a network person to understand the traffic from that server is equal to 60 or more desktops."

Some misunderstandings and squabbling are to be expected throughout VDI projects, but if proper expectations are set and the IT teams are educated from the very start, interpersonal problems can be minimized. Keep your fingers crossed.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter.

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