With centralized desktop management, improved patch management, reduced desktop support requirements and PC refresh costs, and new ways to overcome some major security threats, it’s no surprise that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementations are on the rise, particularly as we continue to see an uptick in mergers and acquisitions within the healthcare industry today.
“While the IT aspects of integrating a new acquired entity into an existing, mature organization has the potential to be one of the most underestimated, difficult tasks to perform, VDI can in-fact relieve some of the burden that occurs during mergers and acquisitions because access can be granted to an entire suite of applications and tools for employees literally overnight,” said Spencer Hamons, CHCIO, FACHE, NetApp healthcare in a recent interview.
What may be the most important component for successful VDI adoption is recognizing the cultural change required. Hamons advises organizations going through an M&A process to avoid the temptation to change the way that end-users interact with their core systems, noting “too often, VDI initiatives fail not because of VDI itself, but because too much end-user change is introduced all at once.”
In order to be successful, change needs to be implemented carefully and methodically. In a TedEd talk, Dustin Sandlin, host of the video series Smarter Every Day, spoke about the saying “it’s just like riding a bike.” He explained that once you introduce a new concept to the equation – like being asked to ride on a “backwards bike” for example – you forget something along the way and no longer know how to operate it.
“Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your mind, sometimes you cannot change that, even if you want to,” Sandlin said. “This is exactly what happens in healthcare institutions across the country,” Hamons added. “There are extremely educated, skilled individuals that have developed innate abilities to accomplish routine tasks, almost like riding a bike.” Introducing new technologies into the world of healthcare which revolves around many routine tasks can be difficult for those who are stuck in a mindset of doing things “the old way,” but it’s not impossible.
Hamons speaks with CIO’s across the country about the importance of forcing the team to consider new ways of doing things. He pointed out, “too often, we want to encourage other parts of the organization to change, while we remain stagnant. This isn’t acceptable. We must lead by example.”
Based on his experience as a frontline hospital CIO, Hamons shared that “the real value of VDI is realized when collaboration occurs to incorporate all – or at least most – of the features that VDI can offer. When correctly implemented, VDI improves productivity, and institutions quickly realize cost-savings with the amount of data being stored, backed-up, and managed. Technologies such as compression, deduplication, and compaction are especially powerful in VDI environments, enabling incredibly high volumes of storage reduction to take place.”
The always-on, access-anywhere features that VDI provides can make integration much less painful and more efficient. Integration efforts can be accelerated across the board, including role segmentation and security requirements, even during the period between due diligence and actual transition. An added bonus is the improved security VDI provides. Hamons said, “It is much easier to secure data in an enterprise data-store with consistent backups, monitoring, and automation than on hundreds or thousands of individual desktops, laptops, and even mobile devices scattered around an organization, in people’s cars, and in their homes. From a security perspective, the number of threat vectors that hackers can potentially exploit is reduced, allowing more focus on those potential access points, and more effective security.”
Hamons shared that “the efficiencies, economics, and security capabilities of VDI are all great, but none of these will be realized unless the technology professionals implementing VDI consider the real-world that clinicians live in. The improvements in employee productivity occur when VDI is used to enable other technologies like BYOD and tap-in, tap-out single sign-on.”
This requires a collaborative approach to implementation and expertise from all desktop teams, security teams and storage administrators to ensure deployment takes full advantage of VDI technology. And in many cases, it requires a cultural shift during an M&A process to ensure IT teams are willing to change how they operate. “After all, for providers, these solutions and systems are simply just an aside to the delivery of patient care.”
Find out more about NetApp VDI here.