The on-field meditation of Dhoni….what we could learn from him…

Just a few weeks back, everyone had his share of complaints against Dhoni. Conflict of interest was written all over the place in his dealings, his official post in India Cements, his interests in his friend’s company, and his wife’s pictures with Vindu….everything was stacked against him and all that was followed up with his disastrous press conferences where he kept quiet or was exceptionally minimalistic with his words. So when he landed in England nothing was on his side.

Everything off field overshadowed everything on-field and more. And as usual he has silenced his critics with an exceptional performance on-field. This tour started with a practice match where Dhoni came in at a precarious situation and turned it around in his typical calm style. From there India didn’t look back and won an ICC tournament with little or no fuss whatsoever in next few days. Never coming close to even being challenged leave alone 50:50. And this is on back of experiments like Rohit Sharma opening, mostly new players with only 3 players from 2011 World Cup Team and spin being the secret sauce in English conditions.

The seemingly ridiculous ease, with which India won the tournament, was nothing short of a miracle given it’s a brand new team with mostly raw players. It reminds one of the Australian dominance era and when Australia winning a tournament was no surprise.

While many of Dhoni’s accomplishments in Test arena can be attributed to the great batting heroics of Dravid, Laxman etc. his own near meditative performance on field in most critical and tense situations is what sets him apart as an individual and a leader in all forms of game. His untimely white beard is the only give-away of the stress he may have inside. Nothing else in his demeanor ever betrays anything but calm, peace and meditation.

He has played in the most demanding and tempting times whether on field or off field. He looks like just meditation personified on field which is a very rare sight in today’s time and place when overt aggression is the only way left to play the game. This quality is what separates him from everyone in this or the bygone era and is the biggest learning for anyone following the game.

While some of the conflict of interest issues need to be addressed irrespective of team’s performance, but there is a lesson in the way in which he handles expectations, stress and demands. Keeping focus on the job at hand and being oblivious to everything else around oneself is the biggest lesson. Whatever maybe the situation, being here and now and in the moment is the only mantra….

That’s what probably makes him the most successful Indian captain too…

Your 7-step guide for a highly effective VDI environment

The emergence of today’s hottest trends such as cloud, consumerization and mobile IT has increased the importance and necessity of virtualization. According to the leading industry analysts, “The Virtualization Solutions market is expected to grow 12.3 percent year-over-year in 2013 and maintain this pace as it moves from 14 percent overall market share in 2011 to more than 20 percent in 2016”. With its increasing adoption at scale across industries and becoming the next logical step for today’s corporate IT Infrastructure, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI has now become mainstream.

It is known that many VDI projects fail or under-perform typically due to user experience issues, performance issues and escalating costs as businesses move from PoC and pilot stages to production. While the new generation VDI technologies have matured over the past few years and address many of these challenges, lack of right initial planning and understanding what doesn’t work well or hasn’t worked for other businesses (use cases) may become a bottleneck. Some of the key mistakes done by enterprises undertaking VDI transformation journey are:

No consideration to User Profiling: It is not only important to determine the end-user environment – local vs. remote, knowledge users vs. task users, percentage of non-employee users (contractors, partners etc.) but also important to understand the end-user experience requirements, such as user profile persistence, single vs. multiple desktop needs, printing requirements, audio profile, monitor support etc. to avoid user experience issues and performance inefficiency.
No consideration to Application Virtualization: Application Virtualization strategy is critical to successful VDI implementation. Enterprises typically have to face issues such as installing every application into a standard desktop image, creating multiple images based on different user groups etc., therefore an assessment to analyze important details like total number of application users, average load time etc. needs to be captured. Application Virtualization also enables you to manage any endpoint as a generic device, making complex OS upgrades much easier.
Improper Design: VDI consists of three key components – Server, Storage and Network. VDI design should be done keeping in mind the maximum scalable limit and minimal downtime of these three components.
Improper Resource Allocation/Sizing: As the resources are shared between multiple users, it must be considered that there is no over-commitment of number of users on a single resource. Effective sizing of the servers, network, and storage must be done to give a good virtual desktop computing experience to the end-users.
VDI is a complex and a long-term project. In addition to the above mentioned considerations, VDI adoption must be coordinated across business units, divisions, personnel, workloads, security etc. for an enterprise wide success.

Enterprises undertaking the journey must be absolutely certain that VDI is the right solution for them and it will address their current infrastructure complexities. The use cases, benefits, TCO, and infrastructure requirements must be evaluated to make sure VDI is for the right reasons.

Successful VDI Implementation is directly connected to working with the right approach and following the best practices. Assessing customer’s core applications, operating environment, user profiles and user experience is the key of planning for any VDI rollout.

Below is a recommended seven-phased approach for a successful VDI Implementation:

Step 1: Assess
A top down approach should be adopted during VDI Assessment phase that primarily focuses on customer requirements and aligns those requirements with the set of users and assess those users to capture the resource metrics. Defined metrics should be used to capture information on utilization of CPU, memory, network, storage and other compute resources. These metrics are important for proper design and sizing of infrastructure resources and virtual desktop images needed for each group of users. A proper assessment will prevent design errors that cost both time and money. It will also help speed up the pilot and production phases.

Step 2: Plan
The planning phase is critical as it requires developing high level design documents including specifications of VDI components such as hardware, hypervisor, connection broker, gateway etc. While detailed planning for pilot and migration is important, operational readiness for implementation should also be planned.

Step 3: Design
The Design phase is divided into steps that deal with the most impactful design decisions first. Understanding how customer use cases are mapped to VDI and its desktop pools and desktop resource requirements, helps determine the underlying hypervisor design and subsequent components that sit on top. The Design phase should also consider user’s functional requirements at each step. For example, if the user requires a USB device to be plugged into the client device, the device and operating system must support USB redirection or if the user requires a multimedia application the client device must support a protocol that can provide adequate user experience. Capturing this information helps the architect to understand the interdependent relationships at each layer. Design validation is also highly important to ensure high degree assurance.

Step 4: Pilot
VDI Pilot phase is intended to help conduct an end-user pilot of a VDI prototype that is engineered from the start to alleviate any concerns end-users may have about transitioning to a virtual desktop for full-time use, and to justify a widespread production deployment to senior management. This is accomplished by helping the organization teams clearly define the goals and objectives of the pilot, which entails understanding the requirements and needs of end users.

Step 5: Implement
Successful Implementation is directly linked to the Design. The Implementation phase falls into two places one is in Pilot and another is in Production Environment. Though the implementation phase takes considerably less time compared to design it is one of the core activities of the VDI projects.

Step 6: User Migration
User profile migration is one of the most critical and sensitive activities in VDI projects. Migrations Plans must be strategized for seamless user data migrations and profile migrations from existing physical desktops to virtual desktops using third-party tools or manual methods.

Step 7: Manage & Support
After successful implementation and user migration, monitoring and management of the VDI environment is important to maximize user satisfaction and enhance their productivity. Operational performance must also be monitored and maintained to ensure higher service uptime and control costs. This is an on-going phase and involves time-to-time user profile management, desktop pool management, access control & identity management etc. Enterprises must identify appropriate skills, efficient processes and automated tools for an efficient management of their VDI environment.

Most VDI projects perform well till the Pilot phase and start to throw up unexpected performance issues while being rolled out in the production environments with thousands of users. VDI performance assessment must be done at each phase of the project to identify bottlenecks, restore performance and deliver the benefits of flexibility, scalability and end-user satisfaction.
Identifying performance slowness in early phases of PoC & pilot can help avoid cost overrun and remediation downstream, thus mitigating the risk of VDI failure during production deployment. Monitoring and capturing performance metrics is the key to VDI success as it sends problem alerts in advance, assuring peak performance.

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Co-creation in Infra Management Services

There has been lot of focus on co-creation of late….The co-creation model goes beyond the conventional service provider model.  In Infrastructure management, co-creation aims to leverage the best of capabilities of customer, technology partners and service providers.

Co-creation is the next step of collaboration. It is about working with the customer and partner ecosystem to jointly charter new territories. In the co-creation approach, the service provider, the technology partner and the client organization need to take a strategic view of the initiatives. The service provider should be trusted with as much access as possible to customer’s environment, stakeholders and business problems.

Co-creation assumes more significance in infrastructure management because it is typically a mission critical and 24/7 service. There is no possibility of operating in an off-line or test mode. Hence, every incident or ticket is critical. One is only as good as the last ticket. This calls for extraordinary service delivery capabilities and collaboration with the client and the ecosystem of technology partners. In our context, co-creation calls for world class self-service and automation environments for the clients’ IT infrastructure needs.

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Are you present where your prospective Employees are- Get on to Social Media and meet them NOW

I was at a Premium B-school couple of weeks back and the most noticeable trend was presence of smart phones with almost all of them. What strikes you is that these are the people who were born in late eighties and early nineties and have experienced no world without internet!!

Now this population is coming into the professional work arena and it is a tough and a difficult ask to keep in touch with them and persuade them to join you. Given the interesting mix of opportunities, expectations and connectivity available, it is imperative to look for most innovative ways to present your corporate credentials and keep connected with them as existing and prospective employees.

Talent acquisition is growing to be a very specialized job by each passing day and branding focused on employees both current and prospective is a big challenge to surmount.

However with online becoming the de-facto place to connect, research and review, it is critical for an employer to leverage online space to its maximum advantage. One can use online channels to hear and speak in equal measures and can create a comprehensive strategy to be seen as an ideal place to be.

Some methods which we can employ to get to impress prospective employees (Pun intended!!) are as follows-

Check your online Brand image-

More and more companies have well populated pages on sites like Glassdoor. Your employees are out there giving feedback about the company. It is worth checking regularly on what rating and comments your company is getting online. For a new employee, no feedback is better than hearing from your potential co-workers on what they think and you bet, candidates are referring to these sites before they make a decision to join you. So it’s a very worthwhile exercise to look for and protect your online brand image with the review sites. It will give you lots of free pointers as well on how to work on your current employee perceptions too and that is a big plus.

Leverage channels like LinkedIn and Facebook-

A thriving company pageon LinkedIn which has employees posting comments and updates regularly is a good signal that the company has a committed workforce. While it is important to create a page and post important updates, it is equally critical to engage your current work- population on these channels. It is not only a good place for them to see their company’s activities focused on outside world but also a place for them to contribute in their own right. No better way to impress a prospective employee than your current employees being the Brand Ambassadors.

Facebook offers similar opportunities as well. While LinkedIn could be the professional network, FB could connect with the employees in a more personal manner. The best place to showcase your employees as a community is FB. It has to be leveraged consciously and without intruding into the employees’ privacy.

These social media pages will work beautifully as a testimonial for any prospects.

Video Channels-

Have you evaluated YouTube channels? Post your events videos, small celebrations like birthday awards ceremony etc. on your channel. This is nothing short of your company TV available 24*7 for your current and prospective employees. Of course the sensitivity around the confidentiality has to be kept in mind but there are enough and more events which can be placed on your video channels to give optimum results.

Alumni Networks-

This is another much underutilized channel for showcasing a company’s credentials for prospective employees. Nothing better than your ex-employees saying very good things about the company and making recommendations. It is an important channel to build and it can give exceptional results.

All these activities and channels can be a goldmine for attracting the right talent and presenting a comprehensive and coherent picture. However like all mines this too will need lots of digging and hard work before one can see the results. These are worthwhile investments to make given the Human Capital Markets are getting tougher and tougher and it is critical to get to the winners, impress upon them one’s credentials and have them to come and add value to your company.

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