Author Archives: Neil Spellings

Office 365 and Outlook Profile Disks are Everywhere – Choose Wisely (sponsored)

Office 365 and Outlook Profile Disks are Everywhere – Choose Wisely

 In 2014 Liquidware introduced the first profile disk solution for the Windows operating system, and RDSH environments.  A profile disk can basically be described as a separate virtual hard disk that contains the user profile information that gets mounted as the user logs on.  It’s like layering for profiles.

Yes, Microsoft had one earlier but only for RDSH environments. Liquidware introduced the first ProfileUnity ProfileDisk that would solve modern Office 365 caching and bloated profile problems for any connected Windows desktop including Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. We quickly added the ability to keep the index between Windows sessions that may be non-persistent (think VDI use case). We’ve just streamlined the process further for Citrix XenApp and Microsoft RDSH environment in our latest release, ProfileUnity v6.7.

Others have followed, including VMware App Volumes with a user disk and Citrix App Layering is now experimenting with one as well.

What problem do profile disks claim to solve?

Profiles can become very large, either through bloat or by applications that require large caches to function as designed – i.e. Office 365 with Outlook caching. The Outlook Office 365 use case is a popular one as it saves your downloaded Outlook messages, contacts, and calendar to a local Windows profile in the AppData folder. The reason it saves to this location is to ensure the data is readily available and does not have to be downloaded or indexed again at every Outlook login, as this can be very time consuming.

This works great on a traditional desktop with a local hard drive but in a VDI or RDSH/XenApp environment, profiles are not always kept locally. The VDI machines may be non-persistent and the RDSH/XenApp server may have a profile management/UEM solution rather than a local profile. In this case, if you use a profile tool – such as Microsoft Roaming Profiles or Citrix UPM – the profile bits have to be retrieved at every single logon. Because files with these solutions are retrieved on a file-by-file basis, this can be very slow and essentially impossible for a user to be productive.

Profile disk solutions don’t retrieve files on a file-by-file basis, they typically leverage a VHD or VMDK (virtual hard disk) on the network. The advantage is that files are retried at a block level, which is a far quicker transfer.

Where the similarities end

Block-transfer based profile disks are where the similarities end. Some of the solutions are limited to only Microsoft RDSH, while others offer no turnkey way to have additional functionality like keeping the Microsoft Outlook index in sync so it does not have to start over every single time.

All profile disk solutions suffer from an additional drawback, profile data is tightly coupled to the Windows OS that it was created for. For instance, if your profile disk was create for a Windows 7 or Server 2012r2 environment, it probably will cease to function for users if you upgrade the Windows OS to Windows 10. Even worse, there are already four separate versions of Windows 10 and most of those break the compatibility of profiles between versions!

Where ProfileUnity shines

ProfileUnity is the ONLY solution on the market to take this into account by having two profile technologies that work closely together: 1) ProfileUnity’s ProfileDisk takes care of the use case of large profiles such as Office 365 with Outlook caches, additional VHD container options for Dropbox, OneDrive, or Amazon Drive caches, and 2) ProfileUnity’s Portability, which can run after the ProfileDisk is mounted and remediate Windows OS version changes in seconds. You can learn more about the power of the two together in this video demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV9hx9CJ6BE

Choose Carefully, Choose Wisely

ProfileUnity also offers far more than profile management. The solution delivers full User Environment Management including policy management, Application Rights Management, and Application Layering options.

Don’t get locked in to a profile disk that is chained to a single Windows OS, especially with Windows 10 updates coming fast and furious over the next several years. When this happens many administrators have to make users start from scratch with their profiles. The last thing you want to do is rip and replace user profiles, which can harm user adoption and negatively impact productivity.  If you want to leverage a proven profile disk that has full User Environment Management options, try ProfileUnity free by downloading it here.

-Jason E. Smith leads Technical Product Marketing for Liquidware and has been in the User Environment Management market for 18 years.

50% CUG discount on the European Cloudstack Collaboration conference

Our good friends over at the European Cloudstack Usergroup have offered UKCUG members a whopping 50% discount on the registration fee for the forthcoming European Apache Cloudstack conference in Amsterdam.

Full details below:

I would like to invite your members to attend the European Apache CloudStack Collaboration Conference, 20-22 November 2013. With two very successful events in the United States, we are pleased to bring this event to Amsterdam. Located in the centre of Amsterdam, the Beurs van Berlage will provide a fantastic venue to host this event.

UKCUG Members qualify for a 50% discount on the conference entry. Please use the code CCC_LOVES_CLOUDSTACK when registering.

The European CloudStack conference will continue with the best ideas from the previous conferences and feature a varied set of presentations and learning opportunities. Aimed at users, developers and everybody else interested in cloudstack, this will be the place to learn more about cloudstack or join the developers to discuss the past, present and future.

Day 1 includes a free ShapeBlue Bootcamp training course and other free workshops in many related technologies.

Collaboration is key to keep our community vibrant and growing. A lot of the talks and events at the conference will provide ample opportunity to meet with the cloudstack community and engage in deep discussions with developers and users.
As always, there will also be a chance to relax with, and get to know, fellow delegates

I think you’ll find it a great environment to learn more about Cloudstack, to hear about the exciting work going on in the project currently and to meet others with an interest in this technology space. The conference will include developer, user and business tracks, a hack-day and also the chance to do some hands-on training on CloudStack.

For more information on the conference, visit http://www.cloudstackcollab.org . Tickets and registrations are now open at http://www.cloudstackcollab.org/registration