Category Archives: News

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.

Migration, Migration, Migration….

To Migrate, or not to migrate, that is the question?

Will desktop migration ever end?  It wasn’t that long ago that we were all hurtling headlong towards April 8, 2014, the date when Microsoft ended the extended support of the Windows XP operating system.

Some of us made it in time, while others didn’t, and the rest just took the decision to carry on anyway and accepted the risks involved. There were even a few that decided to pay out the extortionate amounts of money required for Microsoft to continue supporting them until they had completed their migration.

Move the clock forward to today; here you are now having successfully completed your migration, and for those that moved to Windows 7, or were deploying new machines that came pre-built, you are happily running on Windows 7 with an end of extended support date until January 14, 2020, which is way off into the future. Migration is probably one of the last things on your project list, right? Well maybe not if you are looking to deploy the latest Intel-based client devices.

desktop OS share Nov2016In August 2016 Intel announced the latest ‘Kaby Lake’ processors, with the mobile versions first shipping in Q3 2016, followed by desktops and workstations due to ship in Q1 2017. So, all good so far, new, faster CPU’s, faster clock speeds, and improved graphics architecture/performance. What’s not to like?

I hate to be the one to spoil the party, but I’ve got some bad news for you. Microsoft are only planning on supporting Windows 10 on the Kaby Lake platform, which means for those of you still running Windows 7, which, by the way, is just over 40% of the market if you take a look at the figures on the graph. If you are wanting to deploy Kaby Lake-based hardware in your current Windows 7 environment, then you could end up finding yourself being unsupported yet again.

So, what are your options?

Read more »