Ever wonder how easy it will be to move users from physical workstations to XenDesktop? Well, the answer is that it depends primarily on your current environment. Most of the work involved is in isolating and maintaining the user’s current personalization and application data. I recently completed a document for the Solution Center, part of Worldwide Consulting Solutions, which addresses this topic in more detail. However, I thought I would take a moment and blog a little bit about what I learned.
XenDesktop, when deployed in the most economical sense, is leveraging a single copy of a shared virtual disk. To keep the environment pristine for the user, the system is normally configured to reset the desktop between logons. This reset removes all installed or saved information and brings the user to a “new desktop” at each logon. For users to keep their personalized settings and data, a profile management solution is required to maintain the user settings independent of the workstation.
The good news is that if you currently have some type of a roaming profile solution configured in your environment, the move to XenDesktop is not complicated. The biggest challenge will be setting up the printing architecture. If you don’t have roaming profiles, or some other type of profile management solution in place, plan on implementing one as part of moving users to XenDesktop.
In most cases, you can get Microsoft roaming profiles to fit the bill for your profile management solution. The one scenario where they do not work so well is when migrating users from Windows XP or Windows 2000 workstations to Windows Vista desktops. With just roaming profiles implemented, users will receive a new Vista profile and be required to setup their desktop preferences again.
I have to take a moment and plug AppSense, one of the Citrix Ready Partners, for their XenDesktop integration. If you are curious about AppSense, check out their XenDesktop video available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi3oHO1wIzc. During my research for this white paper I became a huge fan of AppSense because it solves so many of the issues enterprises are likely to encounter when moving users from workstations to XenDesktop. For instance, AppSense can migrate profile settings between Windows XP (v1) and Vista (v2) profiles. With the latest version of AppSense, the two profiles are synchronized even if users move back and forth between Windows XP and Vista during the transition period.
Consulting Solutions has investigated the challenges around migrating users to XenDesktop and has documented them in a whitepaper, Migrating Users from Physical Workstations to XenDesktop (http://support.citrix.com/article/ctx122044) available at Citrix.com.