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The end of 2020 is nearing so it’s the time to look back at this year, I can say it was a hectic year for me as a Consultant.

From PoC to production

We just started a Proof of Concept (PoC) with a new customer in February to show that working with a 3D modeling program on a VDI was an option for their clients. Then everybody started talking about some kind of virus in China and started reporting lockdowns. Just days before the Dutch first lockdown (23rd of March), the customer started asking to change the PoC to production and expanding from 10 people to 150 remote workers. We managed to achieve that. You can read more about this in my previous article: From PoC to Production during Covid-19

During the customer’s request to expand their PoC, all other customers requested more Work From Home (WFH) possibilities because of Covid-19. They requested the implementation of Microsoft Teams ASAP, my colleagues and I had to achieve this during the lockdown. Simply enabling Microsoft Teams or creating all the accounts in Microsoft 365 isn’t the hardest part. That came when they all wanted it on their sometimes outdated Citrix environments. 

Microsoft Teams

As mentioned before, many customers asked for Microsoft Teams. Luckily Citrix made its first Teams optimized for Virtual Apps and Desktops (VAD) available in June 2019 (VAD 1906). It’s a pity that most of the projects started before the availability of VAD 1906 and that they were all working with VAD 7.15 (LTSR). So before we could eventually start implementing Microsoft Teams optimized for Citrix VAD we had to upgrade all of these customers to VAD 1906 or newer. We prefer the use of the LTSR version, so we upgraded everyone to VAD 1912 LTSR. They also had to upgrade all of their clients with the latest Citrix Workspace App. 

The lessons we learned here is that we as an engineer didn’t like this kind of implementations. my colleagues and I all needed to find the best settings. Due to the stress and lack of time we all made different choices, we all reinvented the wheel. This leads to different experiences with Teams at some of our customers.

After the upgrade of the Citrix VAD and making all the necessary changes to get Teams optimized, we ran into some issues. The Clients!!! We faced a couple of issues:

  1. They didn’t have any Device Management solution in-place to upgrade all the Citrix Receivers to the latest workspace app;
  2. They have older (Thin) Clients that aren’t compatible with the latest Workspace App;

The lack of a compatible Workspace App resulted in the excessive CPU and Memory usage, which resulted in other users complaining about a slow User Experience. 

By now we have a default set of steps and requirements to get Teams working correctly, but it keeps hard to manage the CPU and Memory usage. 

Working from home as a consultant

Not only our customers needed to work from home, but us as a consultant also. I’m used to working at the customer’s location because that makes me part of the project. When on-premises you hear a lot of extra information that could help your project make it a success. Working from home removes all those benefits and makes it sometimes hard to understand the issue a customer is facing. When they try to explain an issue we as a consultant don’t understand it and vice versa.

Besides not understanding each other, the most thing I missed (and I think everybody is) is the personal contact with people. Microsoft Teams is making WFH possible and can give you some kind of personal contact, it’s not the same.

Looking at 2021

Now December is ending but the infection numbers are still going up, so we keep working from home. That means we keep helping our customers implementing and upgrading their environments to meet their WFH requirements. I just started a new project, where I can implement all the lessons learned.

For 2021 I set myself some goals, I’m not going to tell them because then I need to tell you next December I’ve not made my goals. 😊 But some nice projects coming up, personally and business-wise. We get vaccinated, meet others again, have a beer in the pub, enjoy a festival, and finally have a normal conference.

I hope you all are well and despite the current situation enjoy Christmas and have a happy new year.

See you in 2021.

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