To be honest, this is a difficult topic,
but it is so common we have to talk about it.
Several hundred thousand companies have bought Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop, VMware Horizon View or any number of other technologies based on the promised features, capabilities, cost savings and productivity enhancements the new software promises to bring. Unfortunately the decision to purchase is often made without paying enough attention to details such as “Is our IT staff capable of installing and setting up this new software in a way that delivers real value?”. Or, more importantly, does the IT staff have the ability to properly support the software going forward to maintain the value of the investment?
There is a common misconception by non-IT people that anyone “in IT” knows all about IT stuff, from Apple laptops to Zebra label printers, if you are in IT, you must know how it all works, right? For the record, that would be a “No.”
Like doctors, lawyers, heck, even real estate and insurance agents, among others, IT people can be generalists, knowing a little about a lot, or specialists who know a lot about a little. IT people, however, are not typically in any hurry to dispel the I-know-it-all-IT-rock-star myth, feeling more comfortable leaving a certain level of mystery surrounding what they really KNOW, what they can LEARN how to do vs. when they are really just WINGING IT with expressions of deep serious thought on their face.
No executive wants to hear that his or her IT staff does not have a necessary skillset or may be even marginally-to-completely concealing their lack of talent in certain areas.
All IT people realize it is impossible to know everything
about everything. The smart ones are often vocal about
what they know or don’t know and are receptive
to learning about new technologies.
The ones pretending to know everything are typically the ones who know the least, and they can become very defensive when someone shows up who truly knows more about one topic or another than they do — they fear that their smokescreen might be exposed.
From our experience, this defensive behavior — the smokescreen — and refusal to listen and learn work against the objectives of the project and against the company’s best interests. In several instances we are familiar with, projects have been brought to their knees or stopped all together because of these and other more-political issues.
Related to Citrix, a staff that doesn’t have the detailed knowledge and experience required to properly maintain a Citrix environment is one thing, but a staff that doesn’t recognize the depth of their lack of expertise can be a disaster in the making.
More times than I want to admit we are called in
to remediate or optimize IT infrastructure or a Citrix
environment, but are at least partially stonewalled
by staff that has an agenda.
It’s not a situation we want to be in. We’re there to help a company get back on track, get the end user experience right, and perfect the company's considerable capital investment in Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop.
According to data we've recently gathered, a full 50% of Citrix environments are nowhere close to optimal because:
- The original implementation was not done well
- The skill required to maintain Citrix was underestimated, leading to detrimental decisions
- No one understands Citrix or are affraid to touch it, so it slowly falls apart just as a car does that does not get regular maintenance will fall apart
- Management does not know enough to ask the questions, overlooks the importance of the skillset component, or has a lack of understanding as to how deficient their technical staff is related to Citrix.
The most counterproductive situations are the rare times we encounter admins intentionally sabotaging the work we’re doing or even actively working against the success of the project, making the company’s investment an exercise in futility. Hard to believe, but true.
Citrix is complex, and we want to work with your staff and share our knowledge. The smarter the local IT staff is, the easier the environment is to support. Working together we can optimize your environment, and legitimately increase productivity.
Most of the time we work it out, but we have to be honest with you — there have been incidences where this wasn’t possible, and we’ve been forced to walk away in frustration before we could get the project across the finish line.
Don’t be that company. Understand your IT staff’s capabilities, and if they need help, make sure they know you know they need help.
How do you know if your staff is capable of maintaining/updating a Citrix environment?
How much Citrix experience do they have? Not just general network experience, and not just virtual desktop knowledge, but actual bonafide Citrix experience. It’s an important distinction.
The other question to ask is how current is their Citrix expertise. The Citrix architecture decisions we made in 2006 do not stand up very well in 2016. Unless staff has kept up with the myriad of changes and updates to Citrix and its supporting systems you may find that your brand new Citrix environment is ten years behind the times on the day it goes live. This is more common than you might think.
How we can help
We’ve hired the best of the best. Our team members know Citrix administration inside and out. It’s what we do, all day long. Our people have been building and fixing Citrix environments for, collectively, decades. Over the years, we’ve painstakingly developed more than 400 proprietary techniques that we utilize to improve and perfect the Citrix experience – for IT, management and users.
We’re sensitive to the local IT staff’s potential apprehension about our involvement, and we skillfully work to strike a balance between interference and assistance. We almost always end up fostering a tight alliance with the onsite staff, building a terrific learning environment for both your team and ours.
You end up getting the payback you anticipated from your expensive investment, your staff ends up with newfound knowledge and skills, and everyone’s happy.