Feeds

Give VDI the personal touch

Settings anxiety can be serious

Mobile application security vulnerability report

DV Virtualising servers may be beset by technical challenges but rarely by political ones. When virtualising the desktop, however, things get far stickier.

All the users suddenly becomes PC huggers unwilling to let go of their own little corner of the enterprise architecture.

Amid the worries – that they will lose desktop performance, that their files will disappear into the ether, that they won't be able to use the same applications – lies a set of deeper, darker anxieties.

These users are afraid of losing the wallpaper picture of their dogs wearing Santa Claus hats. They freak out at the thought of their creative folder structures being wiped and replaced by a bureaucratic corporate standard.

Their unique take on the corporate desktop makes them feel not only more productive, but also more empowered.

Crazy like a fox

It might seem silly to factor personalisation into a desktop virtualisation project, but it is not so silly when you consider how much users' support can contribute to its success.

You could, of course, just implement virtual desktop integration (VDI) across the board. This provides all users with their own dedicated virtual machines, complete with dedicated settings. But it is an expensive proposition. Network, storage, and CPU overhead is considerable and scaling such systems can be a challenge.

The alternative is to use a shared operating system that still gives users their own virtualised systems.

In Microsoft's world, Remote Desktop Services enables users to share a single operating system session, in addition to accessing specific virtual machines in a VDI configuration via RDS Connection Broker.

Tailored to fit

Whichever model is used, desktops can be tailored using Microsoft’s User State Virtualisation function to create a more personal experience for each user.

This function consists of two main technologies: roaming user profiles and folder redirection. The first synchronises the profile data normally found in the C:/User folder back to a server. This can then be used as the main source for users' desktop profile settings when they log on from any device.

Users store gigabytes of document data, including multimedia files

Desktop settings and registry data can be copied from a central server location to the device being used on logon, and can be replicated back to the server on log off.

Folder redirection handles the other hurdle in the way of separating users' data and settings from the operating system they use: the documents.

These days, users store gigabytes of document data, including multimedia files. These are not folders that you want to synchronise between machines in their entirety each time the user connects to a server from a different device.

Instead, the user's account can be made to point to a specific folder in the IT infrastructure, which becomes the user folder. Users can access files on the server as if they were local documents on the machine from which they are accessing their account.

Technologies such as these can solve many user virtualisation problems. In addition, a layer of third-party vendors has emerged to tackle other connected problems.

Rules is rules

Peter Rawlinson, global vice-president of marketing for user virtualisation firm Appsense, talks about application entitlement and user rights management as a key part of the process.

“The real issue here is not just persisting user-defined settings, but also the ability to impose business rules on users. That contextual configuration of the user experience is a big part of what we are doing," he says.

Deciding whether a particular user can print outside the firewall, or use the “save as" feature in an application would fall within that boundary.

Desktop personalisation helps to ease the transition as users' desktops move into the cloud. Ignore it at your peril – and make sure you treat their settings and documents with care. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Apple gets patent for WRIST-PUTER: iTime for a smartwatch
It does everything a smartwatch should do ... but Apple owns it
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.