One of the common questions we get around Personal vDisks is: “Isn’t this the same as user disks and profile/persona management?”
In short… absolutely not!
The ability to have a persistent desktop from a thin-provisioned and shared base image is not new. This has been a part of XenDesktop 5 since introduced back in 2010 as part of Machine Creation Services (MCS)… Sure you can have a diff disk (what some call a user disk) to keep track of diffs and even persist those diffs over time. The problem is, as soon as you need to patch the base image, the persistent desktop would break, so then you have to store multiple base image snapshots which in the long run becomes very difficult to manage, not to mention growing storage needs over time.
On the profile side, anyone doing enterprise desktop management understands the promise of roaming profiles, and then the need of advanced tools to manage those profiles to limit the size and boot time of user profiles. Citrix Universal Profile Manager, introduced over 4 years ago does a fantastic job of managing profiles and speeding login times and can be leveraged across any virtual desktop (FlexCast) model blending hosted apps with virtual desktops.
So now if you can deploy a virtual desktop with the concept of user disks and profile management what is missing? Apps. Whether a user needs to install apps themselves, or the more likely case that IT wants to distribute an app to a user’s desktop using their existing ESD tools, a virtual desktop needs a way to maintain the differences between a base image and the user’s desktop which is primarily apps. This is where PvD comes in.
PvD technology is unique in that it is intelligent enough to know what is in the base image and can discern those differences over time though multiple patches and maintenance cycles, keeping what it needs and replacing what it doesn’t to maintain the persistence of the user’s desktop. Layering profile management on top then helps synchronize settings and preferences across on-demand apps when a user doesn’t need a full desktop.