Yesterday I was surprised to find out that in Win 2008 R2 Active Directory environments there is a user account property for a “Personal Virtual Desktop”. While it’s not earth shaking, it is further validation of the concept of a centralized Virtual Desktop within Microsoft. So I had to a little digging and find out if I could leverage this attribute.
The interesting thing about finding this (to an old school Citrix MetaFrame/WinFrame guy) is that it may show that centralized desktops are no longer the “step children” at Microsoft. Oh, they may not be the favorite child, but at least they are moving up! And I am sure that the introduction of this User property is rooted in the history of terminal services seeing how the attribute name can be seen as “msTSPrimaryDesktop” is you take a peek with the ADSI Edit tool.
Now for a little info on what this property does. In its simplest form it allows an administrator to assign a Virtual Desktop to a specific user account. The Computer Name you specificy is simply the computer name of a machine in Active Directory that is also a VM (the FQDN of the computer you select must match the name in Hyper-V manager for this to work). Once this is configured properly it will show the user a link/icon for their personal desktop within the RDS Broker. I like that part.
The concept here is very cool. Imagine the ability to provision users, assign their virtual desktop and off they go. This would be great for VDI shops to spin up users... if there was real integration, which there isn't. If they had integration in place to provision the systems then Virtual Desktop could get spun up and be ready for use. The user could be a BYOPC user or a contractor within your environment or even an existing desktop user. The important thing is that they are up and running on a centralized environment!
The knocks about this (at least from me) is that it is for Hyper-V managed machines only. So its not useful at all to anyone using Citrix, Vmware, LeoStream, vWorkspace, etc, etc. Also the provisioning integration is a pipe dream of mine and not in the product. Basically this is just another property of the user account (like email addy or phone number) that can be read by the RDS broker. So while I like the idea, it’s basically useless to most us.
Mike Laverick writes a little here about some of the existing limitations in MS RDS and Hyper-V for virtual desktops. The provisioning limitations Mike points out should not be glossed over. Provisioning and management of virtual desktops are some of the biggest challenges for customers going down the VDI path. MS should think about that if they really want to be in VDI the game.