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Implementation Roadmap

This section examines the likely steps that an organization would follow to design and implement a desktop solution that meets its business needs. It examines both the sequence and the content of the steps most users go through to arrive at a best fit solution.

Initial Evaluation

The best way to understand many of the aspects of current desktop technology (for example, the Sun Ray ultra-thin client environment) is to see them in action. Most potential users will benefit from a demonstration and/or reference visit to become familiar with the products and architectures under consideration.

An important parallel activity is to evaluate the likely cost savings and return on investment (ROI) that can be achieved by migrating to the proposed architecture. A useful tool, originally written on behalf of Citrix, that can be used to estimate the cost savings for thin-client solutions is online at:

http://www.acecostanalyzer.com/

Sun Professional Services (SunPSSM program) and Sun's partner organizations can provide services to assist customers in assessing ROI and building the business case for a more efficient desktop architecture.

Requirements Definition

Defining the requirements generally involves understanding the current environment, the user, and the organizational needs that drive the architecture. Attention should be paid to:

  • The characteristics of the current desktop environment (features, benefits, and drawbacks) from the perspective of users, managers, and system administrators.

  • Current architecture limitations (for example, network bandwidth, support issues, software, and hardware obsolescence)

  • Future technology changes (for example, availability of mobile devices, increased bandwidth, and wireless networks)

  • Future (planned) changes to user groups, working practices, and scale and location of operations

  • Possible integration requirements with partners (for example, suppliers, customers, and peer organizations)

  • The probable budget and time scale for a migration project

  • Any other risks and constraints that might be applicable to the potential project

At this point, you should be able to rough out the architecture that will underlie the pilot phase and reconfirm the potential ROI with budgetary costs.

Pilot

Following the gathering of requirements, you should evaluate the technical feasibility of the rough cut architecture. The steps required in carrying out a successful pilot are:

  • Identify key objectives and critical success factors (CSFs) for the pilot.

  • Design a pilot architecture based on the output of the requirements definition phase. You should plan to use hardware components that are likely to form part of the eventual solution. This will help to confirm sizing requirements during the architecture phase.

  • Plan to support users during the pilot phase. You should include time and resources for user training and incremental help desk or floor-walking support during the early days of pilot implementation.

  • Run the pilot for a realistic period of time with a set of real users, employing the pilot solution as their main (preferably only) desktop environment. If the set of users is too small or if the period of time is too short, you will not generate useful results.

  • Regularly review pilot progress, and at the planned end date, evaluate the outcomes and lessons learned from the pilot, including potential technical risks and possible contingencies or workarounds that might be employed in a full-scale rollout.

Full-Scale Architecture

Following the pilot, you should be able to progress to a full-scale architecture design. The steps in accomplishing this task are:

  • Reconfirm the findings of the requirements definition phase.

  • Understand the outcomes of the pilot phase.

  • Use these inputs, together with available design and sizing documentation (such as this article), to build a high-level design.

  • Review the design with users, managers, and support personnel for functionality, feasibility, cost, supportability, and technical risk.

  • From the high-level design, derive build and configuration specifications for all of the components to be installed or repurposed during the rollout.

Implementation

Implementation details are specific to the environment, design, and technology. Apply the following general principles to the rollout project:

  • Plan all phases of the rollout to minimize disruption to any given user group at any given time.

  • Plan for incremental training and support for users going through the transition phases.

  • Make backup copies of all user and system data prior to any significant change.

  • Ensure that there is a back-out plan for major changes, especially those steps that have significant time constraints (for example, servers that are to be installed and commissioned over a weekend).

As mentioned before, the SunPS program and Sun partners can assist with the delivery of all of the phases described in this implementation sequence.

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