Being personal in a centralised world

Knowledge workers like familiarity and will not accept desktop services unless it looks like their PC

Personalisation is about more than decorating a user’s desktop, it must encompass business policy, end-to-end visibility and user introduced applications.

Now more than ever, IT managers are looking for ways to reduce IT costs by streamlining processes while still maintaining a predictable IT environment for staff.

IT managers always want to standardise, scale, automate and commoditise systems and processes and that is precisely what is fuelling mainstream adoption of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) right now.

With the cost of managing a virtualized PC environment typically 50 to 60 percent less than managing traditional desktops, VDI is scalable and appeals to any organisation – from government bodies and large enterprises to small businesses.

It sounds extremely attractive from an IT management and financial point of view, however like many other popular technologies there can be pitfalls when not managed effectively.

Today’s users are more demanding than ever and when companies deploy centralised desktop technology there is often a certain level of user backlash. Although from a performance stand point things are fine, the conflict stems from the fact that the user does not want a uniform and standardised desktop.

The need to change settings and customise their desktop each time a user logs onto the network leaves users frustrated and results in decreased productivity. Ultimately, knowledge workers like familiarity and will not accept desktop services unless it looks like their own PC.

The widespread adoption of centralised desktop delivery mechanisms highlights the need to deliver a solution where the user has the ability to set up their application settings and desktop environment to suit the way they work on a day to day basis. We refer to this as desktop personalisation.

Personalisation is about more than decorating a user’s desktop with a favourite holiday photo, it can deliver many more tangible benefits. It constitutes anything a user is able to customise on their PC and includes such items as desktop look and feel, application menus and buttons, language, screen settings, fonts, templates and more.

A user may want to set their screen at a particular resolution, have an e-mail signature that includes their mobile phone number, or create shortcuts for frequently-performed tasks. So why force them to set those up on Monday and then again on Tuesday, Wednesday and every other day of the week?

I am increasingly hearing from customers that in order to get the cost savings from VDI, you need to be able to support personalisation of a standardised desktop image. There is such a huge difference between plain vanilla virtual desktops and a virtual desktop that can be tailored and managed by the individual user.

User environment management solutions deliver this personalisation and champion the cause of the user, while enabling the infrastructure to deliver standardised components, automation and commoditisation to slash costs and increase IT management productivity.

Personalisation is so much more than a peripheral feature, it enhances users’ productivity and ensures that they will embrace VDI roll-outs by providing a consistent and predictable experience for the user that is personalised to their own needs, every single time he or she logs in.

- Sean Walsh is general manager at AppSense Australia and New Zealand

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