Virtualisation has brought a lot of benefits to the business world, including reduced costs and the constant expansion of technical limits (bandwidth management, for example). However, there is still one important issue stemming from this type of architecture that remains to be resolved: the management of user profiles in a virtualised environment.
Once workstations are virtualised--granting access to users from any machine in any location (computer, mobile phone, etc.)--the question of how to manage user profiles becomes essential. For this reason, it's necessary to set up a solution that can accommodate each user without constraints.
OK, but which one?
In May 2008, Citrix acquired an intelligent solution for managing user profiles from developer SEPAGO. Since then, the company has been able to offer unified user profile management for all Citrix products and in all virtualised infrastructure contexts.
Before the buyout, the product was called "sepagoPROFILE", then renamed "Citrix Profile Management" by Citrix. At the time of this blog post, the programme is available in a 2.1 version.
If you hold a Corporate or Platinum licence with a valid Advantage subscription, you can use this product with no other restrictions.
It comprises a service to be installed on a 32- or 64-bit OS (W2K3, W2K8, WinXP, Vista, and Seven), as well as an ADM file to be added to your active directory to allow for configuration by OU.
We should note, however, that the programme can be configured using an INI configuration file provided upon installation.
And how does it work?
Its operation is simple. And it takes priority over the configuration available in the user account properties.
You simply indicate the storage site where you wish to centralise the new user profiles in the Citrix Profile Management administration model. Don't worry: many options are available to meet every scenario in managing your profiles.
Once this configuration is complete, the service is operational.
The product's strength lies in its mode of operation. It relies on the NTFS modification log to learn the exact modifications. This puts an end to the "he who writes last, wins" issue, which caused several problems in virtualisation and mobility infrastructures, as much on the level of a profile's files or directories as on that of a user's printers.
Furthermore, the product provides several interesting capabilities:
• Less bandwidth used, as only modified directories or files are copied on the network by using the NFTS log mode of operation
• Directory synchronisation outside of a user profile (for example, an application file)
• Registry back-up management carried out in the same way as for NTUSER.dat files
• Ability to class CPM activation by group within the GPO
And the competitors?
Other profile management solutions exist. It may be interesting to consider their advantages, as each one has its own unique characteristics that may influence your decision, depending on your needs. The best-known examples include:
• Immidio (Flex Profile)
• RTO Virtual Profiles (currently being purchased by VmWare)
• Appsense Environment Manager
• RES PowerFuse
If you hold a Corporate or Platinum licence, you already know that Citrix Profile Management is an inexpensive product that can facilitate the management of your profiles and/or make the operation of your profiles more reliable in existing environments.