User Profile Management in VDI

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Technological advancements are making VDI adoption feasible for more and more organizations. It therefore follows; organizations continue to find it hard to successfully implement VDI. Stalling of VDI roll-outs midway into the process is not uncommon. One main reason is that the VDI implementation is undertaken without addressing User Personalization needs in a VDI environment.

User Personalization has a direct impact on user experience that leads to a success or failure of a VDI project.

What is User Personalization and why is this important in a VDI environment?

User Personalization refers to various kinds of customization that a user performs on a desktop that is related to accessibility of various functionalities of operating system and applications. User customization settings and user data are the prerequisites to compose user profile. The necessity to manage the user environment can be broadly classified as below:

End User perspective Administrator Perspective
Require consistent and transparent end user experience across different platforms like RDS, VDI and PCs Require consistent and transparent end user experience across different platforms like RDS, VDI and PCs
Roaming of personalized configuration from any OS and any device Require a central management console to perform profile management, configure granular policies and delegate permission
Fast and consistent Login time Provision to supervise user profiles
Dynamic privileges with Ability to install plug-ins, entitled applications Migration of profiles (V1 to V2) seamlessly as part of OS migrations
Access to data and applications on demand from any device on any network Avoid creation of scripts to manage User environment
Functionality to revert to a previous working state of application or file on demand Maintain compliance in applied settings, licenses etc. Audit & Report feature
  User context aware delivery of vDesktops & vApp


User Personalization Types
Standard or Base personalization refers to settings related to display, browser home page, favorites, bookmarks, printer preferences, mapped network drives, shortcuts, desktop icons, taskbar icons, language settings, mouse pointer etc.

Deep personalization refers to standard personalization along with settings related to user installed applications, user installed plug-ins, user specific customization or configuration for applications etc. capabilities to roll back or disaster recover an application setting.

Mistakes made with User Personalization for VDI

Lack of focus on understanding various user profiles at the start of VDI strategy & design
User personalization requirements not considered in user profile strategy
Changing or modifying user profile type or solution post VDI implementation
Not recognizing the different needs of user groups in the organization

Challenges in implementing User Personalization for VDI

Delivering a transparent & consistent experience across different access device, network with the same personalization
Providing the required user specific application configurations in a dynamic manner with reduced number of scripts or complexity
Owning complete control of the virtual desktop environment and at the same time retain the flexibility for users to install/configure applications
Default personalization solutions have known limitations like last write wins, increased login/logoff time, bloating of profile store etc.
Third party solution generally requires tool specific knowledge, additional infrastructure resources to implement

How to address these challenges

As part of VDI design, user segmentation must be planned along with other major components like business drivers, application assessment, capabilities along with transformation etc. In order to segment the user community, follow user profile assessment methodology and then identify the suitable profile type for users and required personalization for an organization.
Building use cases

Once the user groups are identified and VDI is implemented, enterprise would require a good UEM (User Environment Management) solution that should concentrate on creating a consistent & transparent end user experience across different platforms. Complete UEM should include the below capabilities:

User profile management allowing different personalization levels
User rights management & access control to applications
Application delivery & resource management
License management
Monitoring and reporting of the environment
Disaster Recovery

Microsoft UE-V, Citrix User Profile Manager and VMware Persona- Management are the solutions developed by major VDI providers to address the challenges; however they do not satisfy the requirements for complete UEM.

Third party specific solutions from AppSense, RES Software, Scense, Immidio, Dell, Liquidware etc helps organization to better manage UEM.

With different user groups having different requirements, the significance of User Personalization in successfully implementing VDI cannot be overstated. User Profile Assessment helps in defining the use cases which form the basis for the user personalization requirements and therefore the VDI design. Microland, as part of their VDI service offering, has a unique approach to User Profile Assessment leveraging its R-Assess Solution Accelerator.

Gokulan Subramani