RFP template for application delivery, virtualization and VDI solutions
Define your requirements
In order to get a software solution that meets your organization’s needs, you first need to set out a clear list of requirements that the project will fulfil, whether they are a ‘must’ (called essential requirements) or a ‘should’ (known as highly desirable requirements).
To give an example of this you might definitely want your new application delivery solution to be able to deploy 100% of software titles (an essential requirement), but delivering apps to Linux devices might be something that's a bonus and not critical to the project (this is a highly desirable requirement).
Once you have made your business case internally and gathered all your requirements for the proposed application delivery or virtualization solution, you should collate them all into what’s known as an RFP – a Request for Proposals, sometimes known as a Request for Information – and send this to your chosen virtualization or application delivery providers...
Here’s how to approach any RFP:
- Do your research – find out what you need your application delivery solution to do. This will involve internal research to define the outputs of the required solution amongst key stakeholders (often IT and end-users). This step is important in ensuring your application deployment project is successful
- Identify providers – Search the internet for software vendors who can meet your requirements and get to know which virtualization, DaaS or application deployment technologies are available on the market. You should know the difference between both the technologies available (for example: desktop virtualization vs application virtualization) and the vendors who provide them (for example: Citrix vs VMware etc.)
- Create your RFP - build your in-depth request for proposals and assess your chosen solutions. This template will help you build your RFP in a way that ensures you get a solution to meet all your organization's needs, as well as vendor responses that detail their experience and knowledge in the higher education - or any other - sector
Top tip: To help you along the way, we've put together a checklist of all the requirements you might want to include in your RFP, to ensure you get a solution that meets the "any app, any device, anywhere" dream. We've also broken these key requirements down into categories (e.g. virtualization, end-user experience, management, pricing etc.).
Download our full e-book to get the checklist of requirements to include in your very own RFP today.
Provide detail about your organization
The start of any RFP should include important information about your company, as well as key dates, project outputs, submission guidelines, your existing application delivery solution and the main drivers for change.
We've broken down this opening section into some important details you'll want to include in your application delivery RFP...
What’s the main reason for requesting proposals from virtualization and delivery providers? Why are you looking to change and improve your existing EUC (end-user computing) environment? Think of this as an executive summary for your RFP document.
Our organization is looking for a software delivery solution to replace our existing Citrix XenDesktop environment. We require a new virtualization solution to deliver all our end-user services, namely our software estate, on-demand across multiple locations in a consistent and user-friendly way. The proposed solution should deliver Windows applications to both Windows and non-Windows devices, and should also support the delivery of Mac software to Apple devices.
With an increasing number of mobile endpoints as well as Chromebooks, we are looking for a cost-effective and infrastrcture-lite solution to improve the user experience by having just one point of access for all desktops and applications, regardless of OS or device type. We are also looking for the replacement solution to streamline IT efficiencies, namely in the packaging, imaging and deployment time of applications, all through a customizable user-facing portal to which we can add our corporate branding.
Sample background for application delivery or virtualization RFP
The RFP background will be one of the first things that the vendors read. It will set the tone for what they should expect in the rest of the request, and indeed it sets their expectations for what you want the new application delivery solution to do.
Give your chosen software vendors important background information about your company, to enable them to tailor the responses appropriately. This should be a high-level overview and could include any of the below as an example:
- Where you’re located
- How many end-users (or employees) you need to support
- What types of device are common across your organization
- Whether you have overseas or remote workers
- Whether you have multiple locations to which software needs to be deployed
Lay out the key deadlines that you need your respondents to know in order for them to successfully submit their proposals. This could include RFP intent, submission, decision and implementation dates. There is another section later in the template for you to reference implementation criteria and timescales in more detail.
Incumbent application delivery environment
You should give as much information as possible as to what your current solution is, what it does, and what the new proposed solution will either replace or integrate into. You could list any key challenges or blockers with the current solution, in which it isn’t enabling you to achieve what your organization wants to achieve. This could be an overview of why you aren’t able to reach key IT strategies with the current setup. Some technical information as to how you’re delivering applications would also help to describe the situation to respondents.
You can name brand or product names in this section, which will give proposing vendors a chance to highlight their competitive advantages or ways in which they product is different. Your existing technology might be any of the below. If so, make sure you still explain what it does at a high level and what it doesn't do, as other vendors replying to your RFP might not fully understand the 'ins and outs' of other technologies.
- VDI/desktop virtualization:
- Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp (Now Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops)
- VMware Horizon
- Parallels RAS*
- Application virtualization:
- VMware ThinApp
- Microsoft App-V
- Numecent Cloudpaging
- Symantec Workspace Virtualization
- Remote Desktop Services
- Microsoft RemoteApp
- Parallels RAS*
*Parallels RAS can be seen as both a VDI and RDS solution
Summary of your requirements
Using a concise list summarize everything you expect from both the replacement software solution and the vendor providing the solution. This will be a summary of a later section of the RFP document, in which you fully detail what requirements are essential and what are highly desirable. We have included a full, templated list of requirements later in this software-buyer's guide for you to consider when building an RFP for application delivery solutions.
Are there any specific guidelines that respondents must adhere to? If your company has a set RFP framework or legal requirements, you should make sure those are well-communicated to all companies who wish to submit a proposal. Most importantly, this should highlight how to submit the actual RFP and set expectations for how the process will work.
Your chosen providers' responses
The next section makes up the bulk of your RFP document and will be of most interest to those responding. This is the part to which chosen vendors will write their responses, addressing your key requirements and providing information which illustrates how they will be a good fit for your proposed solution.
Before reading this, you’ll have already built your internal business case for doing anything at all, got senior buy-in and gathered your full list of requirements from different parts of the organization. The requirements should then all be collated into various categories to which the application delivery or virtualization vendors will respond.
About their company
The first level of qualification you’ll want to do is to check whether the responding organization itself meets your requirement, before you consider their software solution’s features and how it fits with your requirements.
You should ask for information such as company history, it’s location, employee information, relevant financials, customer base and key partners. You may also want to know the company has policies for things such as data security, corporate and social responsibility (CSR), anti-slavery and corruption.
The purpose of knowing this information is for you to be sure that the company with the successful response is credible, reputable and understands both your use cases and challenges faced by your industry, specifically when it comes to application delivery and virtualization.
Meeting your requirements
In this section you’ll describe in detail all your requirements for the proposed virtualization or application delivery solution. You’ll want to provide vendors with a list of requirements to which they can respond, and you might want to split these up into those that are essential/mandatory and those that are highly desirable.
This will need to illustrate everything that you need the proposed software to do, including technical and end-user requirements. Make sure you consider every avenue of application delivery and deployment, and make sure you include it in this section. If you want to make sure that the replacement solution does something, include it in this section!
For example, you might want to know what OS or device types the solution supports, what delivery methods it integrates with, how it connects with your existing AD environment, how it delivers Windows software to non-Windows devices, what specific software titles can be virtualized, the infrastructure it needs to work with, cloud vs on-premise deployment, managed vs BYO devices and more! Think about everything to do with your desktop, software and end-user estate, then craft a series of requirements to fit.
You might categorize your requirements into the below, as an example:
- Application delivery
- VDI/desktop virtualization
- Application virtualization
- Integrations with 3rd party technologies
- Integration with existing infrastructure
- End-user requirements
- BYOD support
- Reporting functionality
- Deployment of the solution
- Ongoing management of the solution
We’ve put together a full list of the requirements you’ll want to make sure you’ve considered for any application deployment project like this. Download our Application Delivery RFP template and see what requirements to include in your very own Request For Proposals.
For a sample of what’s included in our full template, see below:
- The system shall have the ability to virtualize ESRI ArcGIS
- The system shall have the ability to virtualize IBM SPSS
- The system shall have the ability to virtualize MathWorks MatLab
- The system shall have the ability to virtualize AutoCAD
- The system shall have the ability to deploy Windows apps to Windows devices as well as to macOS and Chromebooks
- The system shall enable users with self-service access to applications
- The system shall be customizable or ‘brandable’ with our university or college branding
- The system shall be compliant with any relevant Accessibility Acts or meet minimum guidelines for accessibility purposes
- Describe how the solution performs under restricted-bandwidth or offline environments
- Provide details as to how the system shall deploy applications to Apple devices, including both iOS and macOS
- The system shall support Single Sign On through Shibboleth/SAML2
- Provide information as to how the solution scales as the number of devices increases
- Provide information as to what virtual servers can be utilized with the system
- What failovers or load balancers are required to avoid all downtime?
- The system shall provide different levels of access to various administrative users
- The solution shall integrate with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)
- The solution shall integrate with our existing Microsoft App-V packages
- The solution shall integrate with our Jamf Pro environment for delivering Apple applications to managed Apple devices
- The vendor must have key support offerings including online knowledgebases and support forums
- The vendor shall host customer events or user days free of charge
Their software solution
Once you’ve built your list of actual requirements for vendors to respond to, the next thing you’ll want to do is understand the software solution from a holistic perspective. This is to be sure you’re comfortable with what you’re investing in, not just in terms of application delivery, but strategically and from a business point of view, to minimize potential risks in the future.
You might want to think about some of the below points, for example:
- The product roadmap, strategic direction and future planning
- What is the disaster recovery procedure?
- Are there any SLAs around uptime?
- What does the network diagram look like for the full application delivery solution – is it an infrastructure-intensive solution that requires additional hardware and changes to your existing network or is it a more streamlined solution that requires only a few servers to support it?
- Is there an extensive reporting or analytics suite to help you get management information to make more informed strategic decisions?
- How does the solution or vendor work with key technology integrations or partners?
- Does the team behind the implementation and roadmap have good experience with application delivery and or virtualization in your particular industry?
- How mature is the software solution?
- How much does their solution and training contribute to ‘vendor lock-in’, preventing changes or integrations to be made to other solutions in the future?
Implementation and support
By this point of your request for proposals, you’ll want to get an understanding of the details. Knowing what’s involved after signing the contract and purchasing the technology is a very important part of the whole software solution and should not be overlooked.
After choosing the successful response the next steps for any application delivery, VDI or DaaS solution is the implementation of the software itself. This process is something that you’ll want to make sure happens seamlessly and that you’re provided with all the support and project management throughout the process that your organization needs for it to be successful.
You’ll also want to consider what the support model looks like after the solution is ‘live’ at your organization, and what is required from the various roles within your IT department on an ongoing basis.
Make sure you consider some of the points below, for example:
- How long will it take to implement the solution?
- What does your implementation process look like, perhaps on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis?
- How does the planning process work for implementing the application delivery system?
- How does the solution deal with existing ‘live’ and business-critical environments?
- Is there any downtime or risk and what is done to mitigate those things?
- Does the vendor have experience implementing in your industry? For example, for Higher Education institiutions (univerities and colleges), will the vendor understand your company culture and resource availability, as well as your key term times or semesters?
- Who is the account management team and what is their experience?
- Does the support team know how IT support works in your particular industry?
- What is the support process?
- If the solution includes software from technology partners, how do we get support for those particular software delivery products?
- What is the average response time to tickets?
- What is the satisfaction rate of ticket responses?
- How do upgrades work?
- How do you keep customers notified of important updates, roadmaps and key product news?
- Do you have customer get-togethers or user groups where we can come together and share best practices with other users in our industry?
Pricing, licensing, contracts and billing
The penultimate stage of your RFP/RFI is what your procurement team will be most interested in. By now you’ll have designed your Request For Proposals to elicit responses to meet your technical needs and you’ll be happy that you’re choosing both the right vendor and the best software.
Now you need to know everything to do with how your application deployment solution is priced and licensed, and what those models look like not only on day one but on an ongoing basis too. This section is designed to check the affordability of the proposed solution.
You’ll want to know information such as:
- What is the pricing model?
- Is it licensed per user (student FTE count for Higher Ed institutions) or per device?
- Is it licensed concurrently, perpetually, annually…?
- How does billing work, are there any specific terms, and how often does all this happen?
- What happens if we increase our number of end-users and what’s the agreement for this contractually?
There are many different pricing and licensing models for software delivery, virtualization, VDI and DaaS solutions, so you’ll want to be sure that the proposed solutions fit what you’re looking for. Also make sure you're aware of the support, upgrade and maintenance charges that are prominent with certain desktop virtualization solutions; you might think you're paying upfront for the full solution, but you'll be tied to a maintenance contract on an annual basis, or else you won't get support and upgrades!
Demonstration of past performance
Finally, you’ll want tangible examples of the vendors’ solutions being used by other companies or organizations who are both a similar size to yours (in terms of end-users and number of locations) and in the same industry. This might be partly covered by one of the previous sections of your RFP, but this gives you the opportunity to drill down in much more detail and get the information you want to be comfortable you’re making the right decision.
This is to ensure that your exact use case can be satisfied by the proposed software and that there are positive references and testimonials to support that. You may also wish to find an existing customer who is close to you geographically, and the vendor should always share with you the details of those people for you to contact to get your own independent reference. They should even set up a site visit for you to go and speak with another one of their customer’s IT teams to learn how they’re delivering software apps to their end-users and find out more about the solution and how it works.
For universities and colleges, it's important to know the usage of the proposed solution within your particular industry. The IT environment within Higher Education is much different to that of many industries, so be sure to get references and use cases of where the software has been used successfully at other institutions near you.
Create your Request for Proposals
Now that you have built your business case for implementing a new software solution, identified exactly what you need your new virtualization and application delivery solution to do and presented your requirements, it’s time to write your template and publish it.
You should have already identified the vendors who you’d like to respond to your RFP. For application delivery solutions, you might look to vendors who supply various technology solutions such as Unified Application Delivery, Application Workspaces, Enterprise App Stores, Desktop Virtualization (VDI), Application Virtualization, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) or a Remote Desktop solution. You should understand the higher-level benefits and use cases for each of these technologies before deciding which type you want responses for, or indeed a combination of them all!
Now it’s time to write everything up and get all the relevant internal departments to check and confirm that their individual requirements have been captured and correctly articulated. Once that is complete, you’re ready to publish and start seeing responses fly in for your new application delivery system.
Download our full RFP template (in PDF format) to see how this might look, as well as a detailed list of all the requirements we think are important in any successful application delivery or software deployment project.
If you have any questions about the process or what’s involved, contact us and one of our experienced application delivery experts will be able to guide you in the right direction.