The version 3.x release of Profile management enables streaming of your users’ profiles. Version 3.1 (available May 18, 2010) provides the same feature set as the v3.0 release (available back in March 2010) but has a number of fixes in it. Basically the same concept you see in our Application Streaming capability now exists for profiles. Also in this 3.x release is the new ability to write profile changes back as they occur instead of just on logoff. You can download it today from either the XenApp components section or the XenDesktop components and try it out (MyCitrix logon required, but there is also evaluation downloads available under the “Evaluations and Trial Software” category). Let’s take a closer look at both these new capabilities.

What this provides is the ability to only bring down the user’s profile as it’s needed. Thus instead of making the logon wait while the user’s profile downloads, it basically tells the OS that the profile is really there (when it’s not) and then cache fills the actual data on use. You may configure this behavior to only cache on use (default), pre-cache any files defined by size (e.g. 5 MB or larger files always get cached) or even configure it to cache the whole profile but only after letting the logon process proceed (and thus not bottleneck the logon process). These options are all about balancing bandwidth (only copy down files when used) with user performance (make sure the file is there before the user clicks it so as not to have to wait for larger files to cache).

Will this save you massive time in your logons? That depends on how big your profiles are and how much time in the logon is profile related versus logon scripts and GPO processing related? Is there really any other answer in the technology world? e.g. if you have a 200-300 MB profile, you may see upwards of 70-80% savings in time for loading that profile (if using just in time caching, the physical files no longer have to be copied down into the session).

The other new capability in this preview of Profile management provides the ability to actively write back a profile’s changes to the user store during a session. This way the synchronization of the user’s profile is no longer tied to the logoff event. Now as changes are detected the modified files will be written back during the course of the session. This means when a new session is started, any changes from the current session will be picked up in the new session. It also means logoffs are improved as well since the files needing to be updated are written back during the session and not saved to all happen at logoff. Please note that this does not mean changes are replicated to existing sessions. Only new session would pick up the changes.

So please give this release a look and we always look forward to any feedback. How much does it improve your logon times (e.g. how big are your profiles and how long did they take to load during logon)?