Citrix Desktop Transformation Assessment


Even though Citrix has been focusing on the future of work initiative and all new Citrix Cloud services, it is worth referring to the Citrix Desktop Transformation Assessment model every time a new Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops or Citrix ADC design is about to be created. The Citrix Desktop Transformation Assessment should be part of the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops design considerations. A separate article provides more details on such design considerations.

Citrix Project Accelerator can assist in the Citrix Desktop Transformation Assessment process. Project Accelerator is a web application that steps through questions, requirements, and common design choices. Once you answer a few questions you are rewarded with outputs that support the decisions you need to make for your project. It is founded on the practices used by the experts within Citrix Consulting. We update it regularly based on new information from the field and testing by Citrix Worldwide Consulting and other organization. As you proceed through the application, you have opportunities to get advice, leverage additional tools, customize your design, and receive outputs tailored to your requirements.

Citrix Desktop Transformation Assessment Model

Desktop virtualization enables companies to achieve their top business objectives, such as expanding user flexibility, increasing security and reducing costs – but it can be difficult to know where to start. In my experience, I’ve found that there are four key questions that always get asked at the beginning of any transformation project: what do I need to do first, will it work in my environment, and, in the words of any good project manager, how much will it cost and how long will it take?

Citrix Consulting are here to help answer these questions and get you started on your way to desktop virtualization. For years, Citrix Consulting has been successfully delivering Desktop Virtualization Projects to our customers, and we’ve compiled all that experience, best practices, and tricks of the trade into the Desktop Transformation Assessment (DTA). The DTA forms an integral part of the overall Desktop Transformation Model and provides clear guidance on the steps needed to turn “Wow” into “How”.

I’ve been lucky enough to use the DTA in the field and, through a series of blog posts, I’d like to share the process behind the DTA and some of the lessons learned on customer sites.

So first things first, let’s take a high-level look at the seven main phases of the DTA:

  1. Define Business Priorities: The first step in the DTA is to define and prioritize the key business drivers behind the desktop transformation initiative – including flexibility, budgetary constraints, redundancy, security, etc. By identifying these drivers, you’ll start outlining the key inputs needed for your High-Level Design.
  2. Application Assessment: Once the key business priorities have been established, you’ll need to review the application estate to determine the most appropriate delivery mechanism(s) for each application.  The characteristics assessed should include architecture, performance, compatibility, dependencies, location of backend data and peripherals.  There are a variety of third-party tools that can be leveraged for this purpose.  The application delivery models available include local install, application streaming, published applications and VM hosted apps.
  3. User Segmentation: The next step is to divide users up into different groups based on common criteria – including primary location, performance requirements, application set, mobility requirements, redundancy requirements, business value, etc. This will allow you to assign an appropriate FlexCast model to each user group based on the requirements identified.
  4. Capabilities Assessment: Now that you have the business priorities and user segmentation done, you’ll need to review the existing environment to determine current capabilities – for example you may find that you can leverage an existing storage solution or XenApp environment. You’ll also want to assess any planned projects and initiatives so that they can be accommodated within the High-Level Design. And of course you need to capture and prioritize any potential risks that could affect the success of the proposed transformation.
  5. High-Level Design: Now that you’ve gathered the background information, and accounted for future projects, you’re ready to create a High-Level Design that incorporates the different FlexCast models identified during the user segmentation. In this phase you’ll need to detail the hardware, storage, networking and software infrastructure required.
  6. Desktop Transformation Roadmap: Now you’re ready to build a roadmap that prioritizes the implementation order for the different user groups by comparing their time to value (the amount of time required to implement the chosen FlexCast model within the current environment) against their business value (the importance of the user group to the company).
  7. High-Level Project Plan: And of course the final stage is building the High-Level Project Plan that will document the steps required to move from the Desktop Transformation Project to user rollout. This plan should include a Detailed Design, Testing Schedule, Rollout Plan, Project Dependencies, Key Milestones, Internal/External Resources Required, etc.

So that’s a top-level outline of the major DTA phases – thanks for reading. Please check back soon for a deeper look at the first step in the DTA – how to Define Business Priorities.

Capabilities Assessment

The Desktop Transformation Assessment (DTA) forms an integral part of the overall Desktop Transformation Model (DTM) by providing clear guidance on how to turn “Wow” into “How”.  During this series of blog posts, I’m discussing the seven key phases that make up the DTA:

  1. Define Business priorities
  2. Application Assessment
  3. User Segmentation
  4. Capabilities Assessment
  5. High-Level Design
  6. Desktop Transformation Roadmap
  7. High-Level project plan

Now that the business priorities have been established, the application assessment completed and the user segmentation finalized, it’s time to begin the capabilities assessment – the last step prior to the High-Level Design.  In this phase of the DTA, the current state of the environment will be evaluated so that the starting point for the High-Level Design can be established.  You’ll also want to assess any planned projects and initiatives so that they can be factored in to the High-Level Design.  And of course, you need to capture and prioritize any potential risks that could affect the success of the desktop transformation.

The capabilities assessment evaluates the existing infrastructure by examining the readiness of the following ten key areas – each of which will form part of the foundation that supports the proposed virtual desktop solution:

  1. Users and Applications.Establish the pain points experienced by the user community by distributing a questionnaire to a representative sub-section of users.  The characteristics of the user estate need to be established so that that the High-Level Design can be scaled appropriately.  Therefore it’s necessary to capture the following metrics:
    1. Total number of users (available from the user segmentation phase)
    2. Number of third-party users
    3. Number of concurrent internal users
    4. Number of concurrent remote users
    In addition, identify the application delivery mechanism(s) currently in use and establish whether the applications have already been packaged.
  2. Client Devices and Mobility Requirements. The High-Level Design will need to consider the client devices in use so that an appropriate FlexCast model and HDX technology can be selected.  There are a number of different vendors offering desktop inventory software, some of which were discussed during my blog on the application assessment phase of the DTA.  The current strategy for supporting mobile workers should also be evaluated.  This is also a good time to check that the current laptops are listed on the XenClient Hardware Compatibility List (HCL).
  3. Desktop Installation and Characteristics. Identify whether the existing desktop installation process will be suitable for a virtual desktop solution. Ensure that the build process is documented, repeatable and requires any updates to be fully tested.  In addition, establish which applications are included within the base image.
  4. Desktop Access. Evaluate how the user community currently gains access to their desktops and applications both internally and externally.  Determine whether the existing access infrastructure can be leveraged within the High-Level Design including the VPN solution, load balancers, Web Interface Servers, Merchandizing Server, Two-Factor Authentication, etc.  If multiple active/active data centers are in use, how are the external users routed to the most appropriate data center – Global Server Load Balancing?
  5. Virtualization and Storage. Perform a thorough review of the virtualization and storage solutions currently in use.  Establish their resilience, scalability, performance and redundancy so that the most appropriate solution can be selected for the High-Level Design.
  6. Windows Server and Active Directory. The Active Directory environment should be reviewed to determine whether the OU structure, group policies, user profiles, logon scripts and delegated rights are ready to support desktop virtualization.  Review the build process for Windows Servers to determine the different configurations available, for example operating system version, system architecture, processor/memory specification, disk space, etc.
  7. Network Architecture. So that the High-Level Design can determine if there’s sufficient network capacity, map the location of the users against the existing network topology.  Review existing monitoring solutions for periods of latency, lost packets and insufficient bandwidth.  Check that there are a sufficient number of IP addresses available to support the proposed virtual desktop solution. Also, examine the topology for single points of failure and potential bottlenecks as well as determining whether Quality of Service (QoS) and network optimization devices are available.
  8. Citrix XenApp. If Citrix XenApp is already in use, evaluate this environment, including the License Server, and determine whether it can be leveraged in the High-Level Design to support hosted shared desktops, VM Hosted Apps and application streaming – as appropriate.
  9. Risk Tolerance Planning. It’s important to check that the supporting infrastructure offers a similar level of redundancy to the the virtual desktop solution. Also, verify that the business has a suitable disaster recovery plan in place and that is has been adequately tested.
  10. Training and Certifications. Desktop transformation projects should involve training for both support staff and end users.  During the capabilities assessment, capture the current certification level of the support staff as well as their experience across the environment including Citrix, Microsoft, Storage, Networking, Virtualization, etc.

The findings from the capabilities assessment should be documented so that everybody is aware of the current capabilities and the key risks that have been identified.  And now that the capabilities assessment is completed you’re over halfway done the DTA. Check back soon for details on the next step in the DTA – High-Level Design.