The Personal vDisk (PvD) technology is very powerful and enables many great use cases with XenDesktop Local Mode leveraging XenClient Enterprise 5.

How to Allow ‘Administrator-Installed’ Applications Only with XenClient Enterprise and PvD” is a recent blog where I highlighted a question surrounding the PvD technology in XenClient Enterprise. For maximum personalization, the default PvD setting enables users to install apps in their virtual desktop while admins can continue to update and control the base image.  In that post, I described how to disable end-users from having local administrator rights.  This prevents the end-user from installing applications but the administrator can still manage both the base image and departmental apps.  Let’s call this ‘single image management with user/departmental variation’.

Let’s use a simple scenario as an example.  In this scenario we will have an administrator, a user and a group of users.

 Figure 1: Single Image Management with User/Departmental Variation

Image Preparation:
To start, the administrator using the Synchronizer will build out the base VHD with an OS and any base applications that are common across the enterprise.  This base VHD will be maintained and updated centrally at the XenClient Enterprise Synchronizer. (Note: For best practices surround PvD, please read: PvD Best Practices Article). Once complete, the administrator will publish and deploy the VHD file to any desired target endpoints.

Endpoint Variation:
Once the VHD is deployed, each endpoint allows for customization of the PvD (Application VHD) layer and further filters the user data to another layer (User VHD).  Attempting to deploy a ‘one size fits all’ image, while desirable, is likely not always feasible.  There will always be a user or a department who will require a specific application to be installed above and beyond what is included in the base image. This is what the power of PvD enables.

As an example (shown in the figure above), the Purple Useris requesting Microsoft Project (App3) while the Green Group is requesting Adobe Acrobat (App4).  As an administrator, the goal is not to complicate management, but rather simplify the process.  Administrators can still leverage PC Lifecycle Management tools like Microsoft SCCM or even deploying via a Microsoft Group Policy Object to deploy applications to a PvD VM.  This will allow for the administrator to manage a base image but allow customization per user or per group.

With the Synchronizer, the base image is guaranteed to be consistent, significantly increasing patch and update success rates over traditional agent-based PC Management.  Moreover, with the Synchronizer, the updates are done at the hypervisor layer, so even if there’s a problem in the base image that corrupts the OS image, rendering traditional PCLM ineffective, the Synchronizer can still successfully update the base image.

Image Updating:
Once deployed, the administrator can centrally update the image from the Synchronizer whether this change is an OS update, an application update or a new application. This is done without impact to user customizations at the endpoint.  One the administrator finalizes, stages, and tests these updates, they are published, deployed, and applied to the endpoint.

The Result:
You achieve single image management with user/departmental variation at the endpoint where user data and administrator installed applications persist even on reboot. This means the admin can update the image centrally and deploy these updates to X devices from a central console – all while allowing application customization at the endpoint.

Now that you know how PvD can enable single image management with user/departmental variation while maintaining the base image centrally, download XenClient Enterprise 5 and try it free on up to 10 devices. You have the control.

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