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Preparing for Desktop Transformation

By: Chris Maher

In a Desktop Transformation customer session I recently attended they listed what they considered to be the most challenging areas in priority order:

  1. Application Compatibility
  2. Application Conflict Resolution
  3. Application Packaging
  4. Application and OS Delivery
  5. Infrastructure Remediation
  6. Image Engineering
  7. Operational Readiness
  8. Training and Education
  9. Desktop Security

Of particular note, I found it interesting that they found Application specific areas more challenging than the actual Operating System image. Having an understanding of your applications and the usage patterns of those applications is critical to conducting a successful migration to the next generation desktop.

Desktop transformation initiatives can typically be broken down into the following phases:

  1. Identify
  2. Rationalize
  3. Assess Compatibility
  4. Plan
  5. Fix and Package
  6. Deploy


The Identify phase is about understanding the applications that are deployed today, the usage of the applications, and their resource requirements. But there is more to it than just knowing what’s out there and being used. To architect a truly effective next generation desktop, you must also understand the resource utilization for the applications. If an application uses a lot of memory or performs a lot of I/O, you’ll want to know that to help engineer the appropriate delivery vehicle for the application.

It’s also critical to understand your end users during this phase. Learn how they are using their applications, what the expected response time is for applications, and how applications are customized to meet their needs.


Once you’ve identified the applications that are in use today, you need to determine which applications you plan to move forward. This is an important step, and requires a lot of discipline and management buy-in to perform effectively. Remember that any application you eliminate during this step is one less application that has to be managed down the road.

Assess Compatibility

During this phase, applications are tested for compatibility with the solution. This can be testing the applications for the specific Operating System, testing for Application Virtualization, or determining if an application is a good candidate for a VDI solution. There are a number of tools on the market today that can assist in this process, including the Flexera Software AdminStudio Application Compatibility Pack.


Once you’ve determined the compatibility for the applications in your portfolio, you can plan your rollout. This includes determining how to deliver the applications. Will they be locally installed, should you leverage Remote Desktop, does VDI make sense both from a delivery and a cost justification standpoint, and will Application Virtualization play a role. At this stage in the project, you should be able to allocate resources and be fairly confident in setting and hitting dates.

Fix and Package

This phase is focused on getting the applications ready for deployment. This can include tweaking the applications to run in your selected environment or converting applications to a new format such as application virtualization.


Once the applications are prepared for deployment and the environment is created, end users can be given access to the applications. Again, this may be done using a number of methods, as it depends on the ultimate architecture that you’ve designed.


Desktop Transformation projects need to be well thought out, with the end user in mind. It’s critical to design and implement a solution with minimal impact to the end user. Ideally, the end user experience should be enhanced with the solution. As such, it’s important to continue to monitor the environment after the rollout to ensure the end user experience is as advertised.

No matter what the ultimate implementation becomes, applications and how your organization uses them should drive the solution. After all, organizations are run by people using applications, not by desktops.

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