Thursday, 29 November 2012

I’m confused… what profile type should I use?

I’m often asked what user profile I recommend using within a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or XenApp environment from an AppSense perspective. Over the past few years there have been several different recommendations and the purpose of this post is to share my thoughts.
Before making a statement I’ll summarize the various profile types:
Local Profile – Classic user profile stored on the local device only. User settings do not roam with the user between devices and if the users device fails the users profile is lost.
Roaming Profile – User profile which is synchronised between the local machine and the network at logon and logoff events. User settings roam with the user between devices (using the same profile types). Remember that if a user who uses a roaming profile logs onto a V1 machine (Windows XP and Windows Server 2003) and then logs onto a V2 machine (Windows Vista and above) they will have two roaming profiles within their profile path. One will read USERNAME and the other USERNAME.V2.
Mandatory Profile – A lightweight read only profile which has generally been customised for the environment it will be used in. Users are able to make changes during the session but as soon as they click logoff the changes are discarded and the profile is cleared from the device.
Now before making any recommendations on profile types its important to understand what AppSense Environment Manager and particularly the personalization element does. Essentially the personalization component of Environment Manager captures end users registry and folder writes and saves these to a database. These can then be reloaded on to any machine provided the settings are compatible with the operating system.
So coming back to the original question about what profiles are best from an AppSense perspective really depends on the environment and what you are looking to achieve. I personally recommend the following profile strategies:
  • Mandatory profile within a XenApp of Remote Desktop Services environment.
  • Local profile within a VDI (persistent and non-persistent) deployment.
  • Local profile within a laptop / desktop estate.
In terms of creating a mandatory profile there are loads of ways you can create a mandatory profile. Personally I don’t have a preferred method but I have used the following two methods previously for creating profiles: @UVArchitect