Give Your Knowledge Workers Persistent Virtual Desktops

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 29, 2014

This blog is an excerpt from the Unidesk eBook Ten Quick Tips for Scaling VMware Horizon View.

With non‐persistent desktops, any settings, data, and user‐installed applications will be lost after the next patch or reboot. This might be acceptable for task workers. But it won’t be acceptable to knowledge workers who require a customizable desktop experience. Profile management helps preserve some changes, but cannot capture vital user‐installed applications and plug‐ins, and it adds additional management complexity and I/O overhead. The best way to scale VDI to knowledge workers is to give them persistent virtual desktops.

How To Do It

Layering technology eliminates the old issues of persistent virtual desktops using too much storage and requiring a full Windows image for every desktop. With layering, Windows OS and application layers are updated and stored once as read-only VMDKs, enabling them to be shared by many VMs, and making persistent virtual desktops as storage‐efficient and easy‐to-manage as non‐persistent desktops.


Real Life Customer Example

Colby-Sawyer College looked at deploying non‐persistent desktops for its faculty and staff. Desktops that wipe themselves clean are well‐suited to labs. However, for the New Hampshire college’s faculty and staff users who need their unique plug‐ins and apps to be saved, non-persistent desktops would not be any better than their old Windows terminal server sessions.


The college's solution was to provision 275 persistent desktops using desktop layering technology from Unidesk. Power users with administrative rights are allowed to install one‐off apps on their own to ease the burden on IT. For less savvy users, the IT staff logs onto their VM as an administrator and installs the one‐off apps for them. In both cases, the user‐installed and IT-installed apps survive logoffs, reboots, and Windows patches.

All 275 desktops are provisioned from a single Windows gold OS layer that only needs to be patched once. 65 apps have been layered separately and assigned in various combinations to different desktop VMs. Faculty and staff customizations – including user-installed apps – are captured in each desktop's Personalization layer. To fix most desktop problems, the college's help desk simply rolls the Personalization layer back to a previous snapshot and reboots the desktop.

Read about Colby Sawyer's VMware Horizon View and Unidesk Implementation to learn more.

Topics: VMware Horizon View

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 29, 2014

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