I’ve recently worked on several XenDesktop implementations which got me thinking about tips I could share that help make these projects successful. For example, there are steps you need to take in the planning phase that, if handled incorrectly, will lead to a lot of frustration for both your end-users and your IT team. There are also pieces you need to consider after deployment to make sure you will continue to be successful. Below are five tips to keep in mind when you’re deploying XenDesktop.
Know Your Client Device
One large component you need to grasp before getting started is to have an understanding of the different devices that will be in your environment. Are your users operating Macs, PCs, or Linux Desktops? Each device has limitations on what it can and cannot do. This obviously presents challenges that need to be thought out. For example, the Citrix universal printer driver is not supported on Macs. This means that people who are expecting local printers to be available once they are connected into a session are going to be disappointed. Failure to account for factors like this can cause you to have to go back afterwards and adjust end-user expectations.
Know Your Client Connectivity
Another important piece before you get started with your implementation is to have a thorough understanding of your client connectivity. You should already know what you have for connectivity in your environment because you have full insight into it. However, do you know what equipment your users are utilizing when they are at home? Are they using a wireless or wired connection? Is it a cable modem or DSL? What if someone is still operating on dial-up? These can all have impacts on your implementation. Understanding these factors helps you know what you need to do from a Citrix policy standpoint to ensure a smooth experience for any end user working remotely. The key is to prepare for a worst case scenario (i.e. someone on slow dial-up) and create your policy for that and tweak it as needed. The Citrix policies that can be created control the look and feel of the environment, how well they work, alerts and notifications, and more. You need to determine which ones you want to enable and how they are going to work with different types of connectivity.
Know the Applications You’re Intending to Deliver
You need to understand how your applications perform in an environment so that you can scale your environment correctly. For example, how many XenApp servers are you going to need to handle your total user workload? Are you going to need a 3rd party tool (i.e. Liquidware Labs) to get the proper insights into what is happening with memory, processor, and disk utilization when the application is running? It depends on the nature of the application as to whether you would need a 3rd party tool. Some common applications such as Microsoft Office have known utilization as they are used by most organizations whereas some proprietary applications are not as commonly known.
Involve the Proper Teams from the Start
Another common mistake I have seen organizations make is not bringing all of the proper stakeholders together before embarking on an implementation. This can’t be a siloed approach. You need to make sure the server, networking, security, and compliance teams are involved (in addition to any 3rd party partners). It is critical to cover all aspects of the deployment to make sure you aren’t missing any key pieces in the process that could come back to bite you later.
Plan for the Proper Handoff from the Implementation Team to the Post Support Team
At some point, the project will be handed off from the implementation team to the post support team. Make sure that everyone from back-end infrastructure support to front-end help desk employees are involved in the process. Also, be sure to arm your Help Desk team with the necessary information to be able to quickly resolve common questions. This will help avoid escalations to higher level employees. GreenPages' Help Desk assists many of our clients with issues that arise from their virtual desktops. Our Managed Services division also monitors and manages virtual environments so that issues are brought to your attention before you’re aware.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out. GreenPages can help design virtual environments, deploy the virtual desktops, and manage the environment afterwards.
By Peter Crepeau, End User Computing Solutions Architect