If you want to implement virtual desktops there are a few factors that I recommend you look into. I have listed three of them below that I think are important:
1. Choose your preferred desktop virtualization vendor.
2. Consider a technology agnostic profile management solution.
3. The move from physical to virtual desktops must be close to seamless from an end user perspective.
If you do the above, I believe the project will have greater success potential at lowest possible cost and highest user satisfaction.
How do I select virtual desktop technology?
If you leave out profile management and instead focus on who is best at delivering a virtual desktop, the choice becomes a bit easier. Look at what you already have in place in regards to virtualization technologies and decide to either stick with it (maybe due to competence) or consider another vendor if they provide business critical features as availability, security or performance. What we already know is that the virtualization area is rapidly evolving and new vendors appear providing new and better ways to virtualize your infrastructure. This rapid development makes it almost impossible to do a strategic choice on how to deliver the virtual desktop. You should be able to adapt to changes and use whatever technology is best and most cost effective at any time.
Profile management is a big problem but is not the only user challenge.
Desktop virtualization vendors often have their own way of dealing with profile issues. They usually are focused on their own technology and dependant on Windows roaming profiles to work. What you need is a solution that is technology agnostic meaning that you can choose whatever delivery mechanism for both the desktop and the application without having to manage everything in silo´s. But there are other things that need to be managed besides the user profile! How about login scripts or group policies? The management of these items is also silo based and challenging, especially in a dynamic virtual environments with frequent changes.
If IT is broken down and managed in these defined parts; hardware, software and service, separated by virtualization techniques, the dynamic enterprise are within reach! A bonus feature that comes with the technology is user based security. The context of the user logging on a desktop (virtual, streamed or physical) will decide how security is handled.
A seamless move from physical to virtual desktops.
This might sound like nirvana, but is actually achievable if the service layer is virtualized. This technique breaks down the complex desktop into simpler pieces that can be managed without dependencies and complex scripting.
To get there you need to gather existing configuration about what your users currently are receiving as services. By services I refer to what is exposed to the users on their desktop. It is important to gather information such as where the users are physically located, what applications they are using, printers and drives being mapped and last but not least - settings stored in their existing profile.
With this collected, managed and 'virtualized', IT is free to change the way services are delivered to the user; physical to virtual, XP to Windows 7 or fat to thin, anytime, back and forth and as often as needed.
Make a small step towards a big goal with workspace virtualization.