Horizon 6 and Profile Management? It’s Not the Big Deal That Some Are Making It Out To be…

When VMware announced Horizon 6 last month, there was a lot of excitement because the Horizon Suite was finally beefing up their Remote Desktop Session Host component to support PCoIP and application publishing.  Shortly after that announcement, word leaked out that Persona Management would not be available for RDSH sessions and published applications.

There seems to be this big misconception that without Persona Management, there will be no way to manage user settings, and companies that wish to overcome this shortcoming will need to utilize a 3rd party product for profile management.  A lot of that misconception revolves around the idea that there should only be one user profile and set of applications settings that apply to the user regardless of what platform the user logs in on.

Disclosure: Horizon 6 is still in beta.  I am not a member of the beta testing team, and I have not used Horizon 6.

There are two arguments being made about the lack of unified profile management in Horizon 6.  The first argument is that without some sort of profile management, users won’t be able to save their application settings.  The article quotes a systems administrator who says, “If you rely on linked clones and want to use [RDSH] published apps, it won’t remember your settings.”

This is not correct.  When setting up an application publishing environment using RDSH, a separate user profile is created for each user on the server, or servers, where the applications are hosted.  That user profile is separate from the user profile that is used when logging into the desktop.  In order to ensure that those settings follow the user if they log into a different server, technologies like roaming profiles and folder redirection are used to store user settings in a central network location.

This ability isn’t an add-on feature, and the ability to do roaming profiles and folder redirection are included with Active Directory as options that can be configured using Group Policy.  Active Directory is a requirement for Horizon environments, so the ability to save and roam settings exists without having to invest in additional products.

The other argument revolves around the idea of a “single, unitary profile” that will be used in both RDSH sessions for application publishing and virtual desktops.  There are a couple of reasons why that this should not be considered a holdup for deploying Horizon 6:

  1. Microsoft’s best practices for roaming profiles (2003 version, 2008 R2 version, RDS Blog) do not recommend using the same profile across multiple platforms, and Microsoft recommends using a different roaming profile for each RDSH farm or platform.
  2. Citrix’s best practices for User Profile Manager, the application that the article above references as providing a single profile across application publishing and virtual desktops, do not recommend using the same profile for multiple platforms or across different versions of Windows.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  The main reason is that there are settings in desktop profiles that don’t apply to servers and vice versa or across different generations of Windows.  There is also the possibility of corruption if a profile is used in multiple places at the same time, and one server can easily overwrite changes to the profile.

Although there may be some cases where application settings may need to roam between an RDSH session and a virtual desktop session, I haven’t encountered any cases where that would be important.  That doesn’t mean those cases don’t exist, but I don’t see a scenario where this would hold up adopting a platform like the article above suggests.

2 thoughts on “Horizon 6 and Profile Management? It’s Not the Big Deal That Some Are Making It Out To be…

  1. Sean-

    I think you’re missing one big issue with H6. The issue remains that Vmware(RTO$ Persona management is garbage and doesn’t scale and will STILL not be fixed in 6. I’ve dealt with persona management and spoken with people from the old company. The product was designed for WinXP only and Vmware’s been fudging it along since they bought it. They know it’s broken but don’t know what to do about it. Every PSO guy will tell you to run Liquidware Labs or other and not to trust it.

    I’ve put my company all in with VMware EUC only to be dragged through the mud with half baked products or forgotten about products. VMware needs to slow down and make what they have work correctly before trying to tell its users there’s yet another rebranding or product-end of life happening in two weeks.

    Just my two cents.

    • Hi T. Jackson.

      Thanks for your comment. First off, I agree with you on your thoughts on Persona Management. I was frustrated when it didn’t install on Windows 8.1 when working with View 5.3. In some ways, it mirrors my frustration with the View PowerShell cmdlets, which haven’t really been updated since View 4.5.

      And while the article kind of touched on those points at times, the first few paragraphs gave a different impression – that anyone who implements Horizon 6 won’t be able to save user settings when using the RDSH components. Those were the points that I was hoping to counter with this post.

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