How to convince your users that VDI is good for them

June 25, 2019

Even though I’ve written quite a bit about why end-user computing (EUC) is so much more than VDI, VDI is still a key part of a complete EUC strategy and very much has a role in 2019 and beyond. Plenty has been written over the years on “why VDI,” with business-type justifications including security, data locality, performance, etc.—all things the business cares about. But what about end users? If you’re getting ready to roll out VDI, and you want to “sell” your users on it, what can you tell them to get them jazzed about it?

I immediately thought of some of VDI’s “classic” benefits which might appeal to end users:

  • You can pick up where you left off.
  • IT can “fix” things for you without needing access to your laptop.
  • You can access your work environment from anywhere using any device.
  • Things always run the same speed, even when you’re at home or on an old computer.

I figured there had to be a lot more we could say, so I asked Twitter and got back lots of fantastic ideas. Here they are, grouped by theme (and lightly edited and expanded).

Use whatever device you want

Many of the suggestions from Twitter focused on the fact that with VDI, users can use whatever device they want and still get access to their work environment. This manifests itself in many ways.

"If a user has a particular favorite device, that’s fine." — Melanie S (@b52junebug)

"When new devices are released, users don’t have to wait for IT to support them to be able to start working." — Al Solorzano (@TheAlSolorzano)

“You get to use a Mac now.” — Jack Madden (@jackmadden)

Work from anywhere with the same experience

Another huge advantage of VDI from an end-user perspective is that users can work from anywhere and still get the same experience.

“Do you frequently work from home? Do you hate having to lug that work laptop home and get on VPN all the time? Have I got a story for you…” — Chris Koch (@chriskoch99)

“You can now take your desktop with you, use it at home, coffee shop, friend’s house, beach…” — JNET_Jon (@jnet_jon)

“Your desktop, anywhere.” — Leandro Gonçalves (@Le_Gonn)

“It’s exactly the same wherever you use it, and it’s contiguous between use. Even with a laptop which they may have had before, opening and closing in different locations usually yields a different experience.” — Grant (@gcolquhoun)

“Here's your new computer. It lives in the cloud so you can get to it from anywhere, anytime you want. Ask your boss if you can work from home more often now.” — Matt Curran (@mc_euc)

“You no longer have to be fixed to the same single desk everyday just because that’s where your workstation is.” — Jonathan Murch (@JonathanMurch)

"Working from anywhere more securely is my main thing." — Patrick Coble (@VDIHacker)

A better experience for them

“Here’s your new desktop. You can access it from anywhere. If there’s a problem with the desktop, we can quickly and easily provide a new one. This desktop should be quicker and you won't get anymore annoying pop ups about installing updates. Enjoy!” — Rory Monaghan (@Rorymon)

"You need to focus on how it benefits them. What do users want? As part of a project, there should be some sort of user survey or research around the problems/needs/desires that users have and how this new desktop solves those problems." — Sean Massey (@seanpmassey)

"This one's easy in the clinical space: disconnect/reconnect from any device on the floor and pick back up where you left off. No more hoarding the “fast” computers. Less downtime and no data/customization loss during hardware failures/OS upgrades." — Chris Koch (@chriskoch99)

"I always tell them about high availability." — Dylan (@silentdyl)

"No more annoying update messages, “follow me” desktop, continuity, quicker logins, more responsive desktop, quicker resolution of issues, and greener." — Jerry OHara (@Jerryohara1)

"VDI gives them something better, while keeping familiarity." — ThinScale (@ThinScale)

"If they’re doing non-persistent, instant application delivery (with App Volumes) rather than waiting for Systems Management tools to deliver apps. Problem resolution is a simple logoff/login again, so it's more self-service rather than waiting on support. Centralized apps run faster. Faster Internet pipe. If they’re doing persistent, then with VDI there’s no more congestion on your facility's network from patching all the machines each month. There’s no more waiting on your machine to update and reboot for patches each month." — Chris Koch (@chriskoch99)

Make it seem cool

"Give them a nicer mouse, monitor, and keyboard at the same time." — David Stafford (@dstafford)

(This is something I used to do twenty years ago when we first started deploying thin clients. We replaced users’ CRT monitors with LCD ones. They would fight each other to be upgraded first. They thought the “thin” of “thin client” referred to the display. :)

"First, I’d stay away from calling it VDI. The conversation has to be entirely non-technical. 'Hi, I’m from IT. I have a new PC for you.'” — Sean Massey (@seanpmassey)

"Technical explanations are the wrong way to go. Make it simple. Never call it “VDI” or “virtual” or anything different. Give them new stuff like a monitor and mouse. In the end, if IT markets the change correctly, the users won’t care about it and will work with IT on the change rather than fight it. I’ve seen a few orgs that have truly marketed their changeover with things like stickers, signs, and a cool name for the project AND IT WORKED!" — Jeff Pitsch (@JeffPitsch)

"Grass roots is the way to go. When users start to "get it", they get really excited about the agility they now have. Then that feedback rolls up to their boss, and then up their management chain, and pretty soon everyone wants VDI. :)" — Chris Koch (@chriskoch99)

"Stop referring them as “users” and treat them like consumers." — Zander (@p_zander)

Most important thing: only use VDI where it makes sense!

As one of my recently-retired friends said from his poolside lounge chair in Georgia between puffs of his cuban cigar and sips of his Johnnie Walker Blue, “Forcing VDI when it doesn’t make sense reminds me of the IT version of that Ronald Reagan quote about the most terrifying words in the English language: ‘I’m from the IT department, and I’m here to help.’”

To overcome this, the most important thing to remember about VDI is that it should only be used where it makes sense. Ten years ago, many people believed that VDI was “the future” for every enterprise desktop. That led to many scenarios where VDI was used where it shouldn’t have been, resulting in unhappy users. So if you want to convince your users that VDI is good for them, start by making sure VDI is actually good for them!

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