Citrix / Terminal Services Technical White Paper on User Profile Management
The following Windows profile management white paper, written by Nicholas Dille, IT-Architect at sepago, describes the concepts behind Windows user profiles and explains common pitfalls and how to avoid them – both with and without the profile optimization solution sepagoPROFILE.
User profiles store application and configuration data for individual users. Contrary to popular belief, this data is business critical; since each user’s familiar working environment is contained within his or her profile. Thus, successfully managing this kind of data is essential for any enterprise, because corrupted or lost personal settings cause expensive help desk calls and effectively prevent the user from working.
Instead of providing several different mechanisms to resolve the challenges of user profile management, sepagoPROFILE overcomes the inherent limitations of Windows user profiles by replacing the classic process of loading and storing personal settings with an advanced approach of merging set-tings from several devices and sessions. sepagoPROFILE not only supports terminal servers, but also client operating systems. As today’s application delivery methods become more and more heterogeneous it is more important than ever to provide one single set of personal settings on any device via any delivery method.
As application and desktop delivery becomes more complex, the limitations of classic Windows user profiles become evident because they were designed only with fat clients in mind. But in today’s world of virtualized applications and desktops, the basic assumption is not true anymore that every user accesses applications from only one device. sepagoPROFILE overcomes these fundamental limitations of classical user profiles and combines high flexibility and performance with practically maintenance-free operation. The limitations of Windows user profiles pose several challenges to architects of modern application and desktop delivery infrastructures. For one thing, low logon times are directly related to small user profile sizes – a large profile causes the logon to be prolonged. Considering that profiles usually grow over time, the logon time continuously grows, too, which intersperses a user’s workflow with artificial pauses. For another, when a user works on more than one physical or virtual device, his individual settings may be overwritten in a seemingly random manner when he logs off – this is known as Last Writer Wins. But modern application and desktop delivery poses more challenges concerning user profiles. Virtualization enables a user to access his applications from almost any device. Without carefully designing the delivery of such applications and desktops, a user’s settings are spread over multiple devices in-stead of travelling with the user. Windows provides methods which are considered to be remedies for the challenges encountered in application and desktop delivery. In fact, each of these methods solves a single challenge and lessens the effect of one or more others. But even with all stops pulled out, the issues of user profile management are not adequately addressed without a solution like sepagoPROFILE.