In a recent post of mine, I highlighted an article Andrew Wood published discussing if ‘Persona’/Profile Management really is User Virtualization/User Environment Management by another name.
Andrew highlighted that the technology VMware recently acquired from RTO Software (Virtual Profiles), while good at reducing user logon times, does not provide enterprise scalable Personalization and Policy Management. Instead, organizations need to consider a user virtualization solution to enable mass adoption of desktop virtualization technologies.
Coincidently, The 451 Group have just published a case study confirming exactly what Andrew covered, through the use of a real life VMware View customer that was unable to adopt VDI with only logon time / profile management technology from RTO Virtual Profiles (which will at some point be incorporated into VMware View)
Cox Communications is one of the largest telecoms in the US, with more than six million customers and 22,000 employees. They started their VDI Proof of Concept back in 2008 but unfortunately the initial test users hated the non-persistent virtual desktops as every time they logged off, they lost all of their settings and IT staff would have to spend 20mins reconfiguring individual desktops.
In a bid to resolve this issue, Cox investigated the use of profile management technology coupled with the non-persistent virtual desktops. Individual persistent virtual desktops had already been discounted because storage costs & image management would prohibit scalability.
In the first round, Cox trialled RTO Virtual Profiles, but found that while it may reduce logon times, it did not scale well. Cox next tried AppSense user virtualization, and like for so many others, voila – it just worked. All user specific information was virtualized and saved away from the non-persistent desktops and instead stored in the AppSense User Virtualization Infrastructure and would then reapply this to any desktop, regardless of how it is delivered to a user, across any OS or 32/64bit boundary.
This goes someway to prove, that while it is nice to reduce your logon times, it is more important to have your latest settings, data, applications and desktop configuration policies, regardless of how it is delivered – otherwise users simply reject the new virtual platform and physical desktops will remain a pain for many corporate IT environments.
Further to Andrew’s article, this also proves some of the comments made when VMware acquired RTO by the likes of:
Jon Wallace on InsideTheRegistry.com: The RTO Acquisiation – What Now For AppSense and RES Software?
Brian Madden on BrianMadden.com: Confirmed: VMware buys everypart of RTO Software, except what the owe Citrix
Martin Ingram on this AppSense Community Blog: Congratulations to VMware and RTO Software
While it is good that VMware now have profile management technology, like Citrix with User Profile Manager, this shows that profile management technology is for reducing the pains associated with roaming profiles (which are more suited for use in RDS and XenApp environments, certainly not complex & dynamic virtual desktop environments) such as corruption and logon times. It is not a user virtualization solution with enterprise scalable infrastructure, for enabling mass adoption of desktop virtualization within the enterprise. AppSense are proud to continue operating as pioneers in the user virtualization space, with our technology chosen by enterprises as part of their desktop management projects globally…
A copy of The 451 Group report can be found here: The 451 Group User Deployment Report – Cox Communications deploys VDI
..that’s an interesting case study – if only for the fact that its the first time I’ve seen ICA quoted *negatively* as a differentiator.
What I think is interesting is that there’s discussion there of expanding out past VDI to make use of RDS as terminal sessions: user virtualisation needs to be able to sit across desktop delivery solutions.
Citrix’s solution (which they license(?) from Sepago ) does help with preventing ‘last write wins’ situations (more so than Virtual Profiles) which can help if you’re logging on with the same profile.
But if you’ve a range of devices, and different operating systems, and different application sets even this configuration isn’t as flexible in managing user’s workspace settings as solutions like Application Manager.