Change is difficult for everyone, and enterprise computing is no different. The degree of difficulty can be minimized based on the strategic approach and project plan, as well as maximizing end-user acceptance.
But first, what exactly is a cloud desktop? A cloud desktop, which is commonly referred to as Desktop as a Service (DaaS), presents a full operating system workstation and applications as hosted externally by a cloud infrastructure. The user device is largely irrelevant and can be a tablet, desktop computer, laptop, or even a smartphone.
Strategic Approach to Cloud Desktops
Enterprises that successfully adopt cloud desktops incorporate solid justifications; lack of clear goals or simply joining a technical wave are not good enough reasons. Common drivers for initiating this type of transition are based on cost savings, offloading IT services, lack of availability of qualified IT personnel, data center hardware maintenance, licensing intricacies, application integration issues, and other complexities. Typically, cloud desktops are considered for not just one reason but instead multiple business and technical requirements.
The size of the enterprise bears weight as well. Small businesses are more likely to be plagued with most if not all of the above drivers and thus have a more immediate need to make a strategic change in short order. Small businesses must be flexible and agile, and strategy is often determined by the business owner or a few members of management. Although cloud desktops can positively benefit large companies as well, these larger entities often have IT staff, expertise, and equipment and thus spend more time defining strategic direction and facilitating change.
Selecting a partner that aligns with your strategic approach is an important success criterion. Querying the partner about the number of years in business, the number of virtual desktops supported, how little or how much technical support is provided to users, service level agreements, customer administrative interface and expectations, as well as testimonials will weigh into the decision. In addition, a trial period will provide a realistic demonstration of potential partner capabilities and services.
Planning for Success
The adage, “failure to plan is planning to fail,” is certainly true when it comes to cloud desktop implementations. The project plan should include clearly defined goals. In addition, key aspects of the project plan include testing “what if?” scenarios, application integration, databases/file storage and repositories, and network connectivity, as well as the actual transition process.
In addition, the actual cutover may require consulting, technical, and/or training assistance, depending on the complexity of the current computer environment. For example, if the new virtual cloud desktop environment will be based solely on Microsoft Office applications, even including Dynamics CRM, Visio, SharePoint, or other add-ons, these can easily be incorporated into the cloud. However, more complex client/server applications including backend resources will necessitate additional time, integration effort, and storage requirements that should be incorporated into the project plan.
User Acceptance and Transition
Ensuring that users are content with a new computer model, as well as a satisfactory transition, are the most critical keys to success. If users do not fully embrace the new computing system, achievement of project goals and work effort may be compromised.
If users are complaining about slow computers, application response times, the time necessary to upgrade anti-virus software and the like, they will probably be receptive to a new system that addresses these items. But keeping in mind that a percentage of users are resistant to change no matter the benefit, it is important that communications regarding upcoming changes are clear and concise.
Engaging some users in a pilot is an excellent way to minimize resistance to new cloud desktops. These early adopters should be composed of individuals from various departments and work titles, and they should be encouraged to share their experiences with their co-workers. As a result, their co-workers will build up excitement for the upcoming change and be receptive to it.
User training helps drive adoption. Whether that training is formal or consists of a few short videos, these tools help by addressing questions and potential issues before they alienate new users. Access to Q & A materials will serve as reference materials.
Some users may be fearful that their jobs or their co-workers’ jobs will be eliminated due to adoption of cloud computing and thus express resistance. If this is the case, a straightforward announcement should be made to dispel grapevine rumors.
A few users will be hesitant to give up their beloved computers for their day-to-day work. Users that are accustomed to accessing local files or other data stored on the local hard drive may feel that they are losing an element of control in the workplace and that the cloud is monitoring every computing activity. These concerns should be acknowledged, and users should be encouraged to appreciate the centralization and advanced computing capabilities that cloud desktops offer.
The transition process and timeline should likewise be communicated clearly to users, including dates, events, and activities. If a weekend cutover takes place, a few users should be involved with testing to ensure full functionality on Monday morning.
As you consider transitioning to cloud desktops, a robust strategic approach, project plan, and user acceptance engagement are keys to maximizing success. User acceptance can be the most complex aspect of a cloud desktop rollout, and achieving user adoption goals is contingent upon involvement and clear communications.