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VDI Delivery

On the Client Computing Team at USAA I was responsible for the transforming the user virtual desktop provisioning & onboarding experience – as well as writing the automation to power it. During my time in this role, I led the charge from 4+ week delivery to a 48-hour guarantee.

Onboarding Experience Overhaul

When I arrived on the team, I identified that there were key areas to focus on:

  • Get data before the new user starts. I worked with the HR & InfoSec to get the needed data automatically published to the requests system earlier in the process

  • Pre-installed software installation needed work. Don’t ask managers to keep up with ever-changing software lists - let them focus on their team. Start with a clean slate, and suggest the packages that their team uses. Much simpler.

  • Provisioning Automation Improvements. I led the charge to centralize the scripts and spreadsheets into a server-hosted app, helping uptime, eliminating conflicting builds, and accelerating tooling updates. One intuitive webapp reduced errors to negligible rather than a frequent occurence.

  • Farm optimization. The rapid growth of VDI wasn’t going to be sustainable if we weren’t running efficient in both our hyperconverged Software-Defined Datacenters (SDDC) and in the pod-architecture datacenters. I achieved a density increase of 12% (+8k VMs at the time, ~$2M+ saved) while at the same time returning better performance to users.

Summary

By the end of the overhaul, 5 people were able to focus on other work instead of VDI provisioning due to the time savings. This was a huge effort, and ultimately is what enabled the business to take on projects such as:

  • 32->64 bit migration, in which 26,000 VMs in 3 months were re-built, migrating necessary software and licensing automatically
  • “Workplace Flexibility” effort, in which an additional 10,000 users were migrated from physical desktops to VDI in 9 months

Provisioning time today: VM created & presented via Citrix in under an hour, software within 24 hours, completed before the user is out of New Employee Orientation.

Tools/Products Used

  • PowerShell, using the VMware and Citrix snap-ins (before the C#/API clients were available)
  • VMware vCenter/ESXi/NSX
  • Citrix XenDesktop & XenApp
  • EMC ExtremIO & ScaleIO
  • Microsoft SCCM + custom internal tooling
  • Lakeside Systrack
  • IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC)
  • JIRA
  • Categories

    Operations
  • Timeframe

    2014-2017
  • Position

    Computer Systems Engineer, USAA