When we talk about delivering applications to users, that means decoupling the operating system, applications, and user profile. If the user profile is supposed to make up 1/3 of the user experience, how can it cause more than 1/3 of the administrative pain?

User profiles are a subject that can give administrators and architects a headache (admittedly, some run in the other direction!), however, they’re a critical part of the user experience. You can have the best designed Citrix environment, but not properly addressing user profiles can result in users disliking the implementation.

There are many options for user profiles, but which one is best for your environment? Here’s where the administrative pain can come to play because it’s not a clean cut answer as to which profile type you should use when. The options include:

  • Microsoft: Local, Mandatory, Roaming, Terminal Services Mandatory, Terminal Services Roaming
  • Citrix Profile management
  • Third party, such as AppSense

Oh, and just to add some fun, let’s now incorporate unique user and application requirements and maybe folder redirection. That could put you in migraine territory.

Having spent several years in the field as part of Citrix Consulting and still participating in customer design reviews, I know of more than a few Citrix implementations that are based on less than optimal profiles. Worse yet, some have no profile configuration because no one addressed it. How bad is that? Awful, to put it mildly.

The default/local settings cause user changes to be saved only on that computer. Let’s say that a user loves a green background and changes each XenDesktop and/or XenApp session to reflect that. The user will not understand why that setting is sometimes retained (when he just happens to log into a computer wherein the user profile was previously modified) and sometimes it is not retained (such as a new virtual desktop). No matter how well you design the rest of the Citrix deployment, that user will be frustrated.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve seen customers with multiple (and I mean multiple!) roaming profiles based on grouped computer designations that made my head spin. Maintenance of that solution was indeed complex.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy if/then statement that spells which user profile solution should be used when. In general, Citrix recommends using the simplest user profile solution that addresses your needs.

To better understand XenApp/XenDesktop environments, please tell me about your user profile woes in this short anonymous questionnaire. It’s only five questions long and shouldn’t require more than a few minutes.

When transitioning to a new version of anything Citrix related, revisiting your current user profile solution may be warranted. If you’re currently moving to Windows 7 virtualized desktops, you may wish to attend the Windows 7 Migration TechTalk.

Be on the lookout for a TechTalk entitled Solving User Profile Challenges for XenApp and XenDesktop to be held on April 6th. In this TechTalk, I’ll be talking about the various profile solutions and providing some guidance regarding making the right decision for your environment so that 1/3 of the user experience is little or no administrative pain.