Importance of Simple Profile Management

On 29 August 2014 by Pete Petersen

User Settings

I was recently asked by a senior management member about some settings related to Outlook. As the conversation progressed, it was clear that the real question was about profile management. The initial question was if the settings were different in a hosted shared desktop (such as XenApp), a published application (again, XenApp), or a fat install (such as a local laptop). The answer, of course, is that we need to think about profile management.

The settings don’t need to be different; the published app is just XenApp, right? So it all just sits in the user’s profile. However, significant thought needs to be given to the auto-setup of the user account, and the subsequent settings. And think in an implementation where you’re not preserving profile data between logins, such as when implementing with no profile management service and mandatory profiles, or utilizing provisioning services and resetting the virtual machine between reboots (or in the VDI/XenDesktop case, between logins as well).

So should the user profiles be local to the XenApp server or on the network?

There are lots of ways to do that. That’s one of the tricks to getting a XenDesktop/XenApp environment into a state that users will love or hate. For example

  • Roaming profiles: Work–at first. Then they’ll get big and bog down the environment, become corrupt, and lots of other badness.
  • Citrix Profile Management (or choose your Broker technology’s profile management service): Store the profile on the network, and stream the profile back to the user session as they need various pieces. Much better than Roaming profiles.
  • AppSense: Completely managed into a SQL database and streamed to the user as they need it. Caveat here is that AppSense is a complicated beast (that includes profile management).
  • Local profiles: Settings won’t follow users from session to session. They’ll have to re-do settings each time they log in, until they hit a box that they’be been on before. That’s why we do profile management in the first place.

The short of it is that clear requirements need to be gathered, an Assessment of some sort should be embraced, and an effort to get Design correct before implementing will ensure the user’s love the experience.

More thoughts about Profile Management (aka Persona Management):