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Why the help desk needs VDI training too

Help desk workers will get lots of user questions about their virtual desktops, so it's essential that staff know the ins and outs of VDI, including how connectivity works.

End users and IT administrators might be on the top of the list for VDI training, but the help desk needs to be...

up to speed on the technology as well.

When an organization implements VDI, there is naturally a transition period during which everyone has to come to grips with the new technology. Users must learn a new way of accessing the data and applications they use to do their jobs. Similarly, IT administrators must adapt new management techniques and know how to use the VDI software.

The changes don't end there though; the help desk needs VDI training to understand the new layers of complexity due to the abstraction of the desktop operating system. After all, help desk workers are the ones who will be fielding phone calls and online tickets from confused or frustrated users. The help desk might still support Windows (or some other operating system), but the staff will probably have to deal with device and connectivity issues that they didn't before.

The amount of VDI training the service staff needs depends on the help desk's role within the organization. In some organizations, the help desk may only provide basic end-user support, such as resetting passwords. In others, help desk workers might also help troubleshoot backend server or network problems. Whatever the case, VDI training will help these workers assist users more efficiently and keep the entire implementation on track.

VDI training focuses on connectivity

Even if an organization's help desk only provides first-level assistance for end users, the staff needs to learn about connectivity problems that can come up with VDI. In traditional desktop environments, end users likely sit down at their corporate desktops, enter their passwords and get to work. VDI comes with some extra layers of complexity. When a user powers up his or her endpoint device, the device's local operating system has to load, a client component has to establish connectivity to the virtual desktop, and the user has to log into the virtual desktop.

The amount of VDI training the service staff needs depends on the help desk's role within the organization.

The help desk staff must understand all the behind-the-scenes VDI software and network processes, and know the right questions to ask so they can help the user. For example, if a user cannot log into a virtual desktop, the help desk representative needs to figure out if the user is entering an incorrect password or if the endpoint is failing to connect to the virtual desktop. If the device fails to establish a connection, then the representative has to find out what went wrong: Is it something simple, such as an unplugged Ethernet cable, or a more complicated problem, such as the VDI system running out of virtual desktops to connect to?

Device-specific help desk training

The help desk staff may also require device-specific training. Even though the desktops are virtualized, users still use some sort of physical device to connect to their virtual desktops. The device could be a corporate-issued thin client or zero client device, or it could be a user's personal device.

If all the users access their virtual desktops from repurposed PCs or some other standard type of thin client device, then the training should be relatively easy. If, however, users are allowed to connect from all manner of remote devices, the help desk staff needs to be well versed in Apple iOS or Google Android tablets and smartphones, as well as Macs and other devices. If help desk workers were only experienced in Windows support, but they received a call from a MacBook user, it would take longer to resolve the issue.

Although the transition to VDI probably has the greatest effect on end users and IT admins, it is important to make sure the help desk staff receives VDI training too. Otherwise they may have difficulties helping end users resolve their issues, and those users will be less likely to get on board with using virtual desktops.

Next Steps

Train IT for the realities of VDI

Learn how to use new tech without risk

How to get certified to support Microsoft VDI

This was last published in November 2015

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