Don't let internal politics hijack your desktop virtualization project

Sometimes all it takes for a desktop virtualization project to fail is disagreement amongst your organization about how to manage the final deployment. Try solving things over pizza.

One of the reasons that VDI projects fail is political infighting among different groups in the organization. It's common for a desktop virtualization project to get started without too much fuss, but when it comes time to decide who is responsible for what, disagreement hinders the project rollout.

It's not exactly a new problem, though. We've been dealing with it for as long as we've been connecting users to desktops running on servers. Many organizations have focus groups, but by and large, the desktop people manage desktops, the server people manage servers and the network people manage networks. To make matters worse, these groups don't necessarily talk to one another.

Solving political problems with pizza and beer

With desktop virtualization, you have users' desktops hosted on server hardware, mobile phones used as clients and virtual machines running on laptops and servers -- not to mention all the fancy Web interface, VPN, wide area network optimization and identity federation technologies that are available. So, who manages all this?

More desktop virtualization
project issues:

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Five reasons a VDI project stalls

15 reasons desktop virtualization fails

Why do virtual desktop projects fail?

How do you stop a VDI deployment in its tracks? Scale up!

In classic scenarios that are basically mature server-based computing environments, a server person with desktop experience is usually called on to run a team of people who manages the environment. That works for the servers themselves and even for, say, Citrix Web Interface, but what happens when a company brings in a NetScaler? At that point, the departments have to work together.

Now, picture the desktop team bringing in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) project that requires servers, virtualization, storage, networking, and desktop and application support, and you can see where there might be some problems! If nothing else, every change has to go through meeting after meeting to make sure all the teams are on board, and if one of them has a bone to pick, good luck.

So, how do you deal with this issue before it affects your desktop virtualization project (or your sanity)? There are two answers, the first of which sounds cliché, but is probably the best:

  1. Have a really good relationship with a high level of respect for the other teams
  2. Dedicate an entire group of resources to running the desktop virtualization project

Having a great working relationship with respect for each group is obviously the most efficient way to get things done, but perhaps the hatchet can't be buried.

In those situations, some companies have created a new group just to handle desktop virtualization. The group consists of people with broad skillsets (those folks come at a cost) who can do it all or project manager-type people who can assemble resources to get the job done. The idea is to have an autonomous group dedicated to managing virtual desktops that only seeks outside help as needed.

Clearly, this is the least efficient way to run a desktop virtualization project, but in some situations it's the only way. My advice to the driver of the VDI bus is to take the other teams out for pizza and beers and get them all talking to each other. A desktop virtualization project is a big deal, no matter what technology you use, and addressing the politics before you start is one way of ensuring some level of success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabe Knuth
is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as "the other guy" at BrianMadden.com. He has been in the application delivery space for over 12 years and has seen the industry evolve from the one-trick pony of terminal services to the application and desktop virtualization of today. Gabe's focus tends to lean more toward practical, real-world technology in the industry, essentially boiling off the hype and reducing solutions to their usefulness in today's corporate environments.

This was first published in June 2012

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