Personalization is always a critical need and challenge.  The critical need is around user acceptance, as they will quickly revolt if their desktop seems too constrained.  The challenge is rooted in that the point of personalization is flexibility — meaning that it varies by user (aka the reason everyone one’s desktops looks a little different then the next persons).  It’s not like troubleshooting a printing issue where a job does not print.  It’s figuring out why a user claims an app setting is not saved.

Citrix acquired Ringcube last year to address an important use case – the ability to have common image desktop pools that also persist all personalization changes on that desktop beyond just the user’s profile related changes.  We all know the value of user profiles, we’ve all tackled that already in some form or fashion.  I am talking about the capability to expand beyond profiles and persist things like installed applications and printers — things that install into the machine and add drivers, services and other machine specific changes.  Now in XenDesktop 5.6, Citrix is delivering that Ringcube technology in the form of the Personal vDisk capability in all editions of XenDesktop.

What Personal vDisk adds to the equation is expanding beyond the ability of persisting the user’s profile and providing the ability to persist those ‘machine’ changes and additions.  This is an area many of us take for granted when using a physical Windows desktops.  As we install apps, our printers, and all those other “non-profile” personalization changes, we just expect them to be there the next time we logon to our desktop.

Personal vDisk does not require you to modify your profile design either.  You may continue to leverage your existing profile technology to handle the roaming of the user’s profile, while Personal vDisk handles all the non-profile data … aka the rest of the user’s personalization changes.

So for instance, those already leveraging Citrix’s Profile Management capability to roam the user’s profile, may continue to do so.  And now you can further extend the breadth and depth of personalization for those same users by providing desktops enabled with Personal vDisk.  Personal vDisk provides this new user personalization layer, delivering the flexibility for persisting the user’s settings, configurations, apps and printers.

And while I use apps and printers as the example, the core purpose of Personal vDisk is to persist all other changes the user makes – we must expect that anything that attempts to write to that common base image will not be there after a reboot (or image update).  So Personal vDisk redirects and captures any such writes to the user’s vDisk.

Not only will Personal vDisk persist these user personalizations across reboots, it will also persist them over the course of base image updates.  Today, IT often resorts to using dedicated desktops to offer this personalization breadth for their high demand users.  Primarily this occurs because these high demand users often require specialty apps and IT eventually realizes that putting these in the base image for all users is not practical (or cost efficient).

So this results in giving these users their own desktop to install these apps, but in order to persist these changes, they have to deliver a dedicated desktop – one that is assigned for only that user and then of course incurs independent management and support – hotfixes, service packs etc.   Pooled models work fine for many users, but once the personalization expands beyond the profile, users start to resist.

From this day forward, dedicated is no longer a necessity to persist these highly customized desktops … it can now be done using a common base image pooled desktops.