vcpguy
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Unidesk and VMware View

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Hi, can anyone please tell me their experience with Unidesk ? We are considering it to test it but was wondering what other users have to say about it. What are Pros and Cons in your opinion about using unidesk with VMware View ?

Thanks      

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Chlsmith
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While you are right that by using a floating pool, you kind of remove the value of the User Personalization Layer, you still gain a lot of advantages.

1.  You still get to keep exactly 1 gold image of the OS.

2.  You still deploy the apps as layers.

3.  You still get the storage savings.

I would even add a fourth:  the machines go back to default when the users disconnect.   In any floating type pool, you are going to have some sort of roaming data solution in place.   Maybe roaming profiles and folder redirection from a strictly MS background, or a third party solution of some sort, whatever, so there's no loss of features as far as the users are concerned.   As someone who has 15 years of dealing with those from a terminal services and desktop support model, let me tell you that I would've loved nothing more than a system that would automatically revert to original state with each reboot.   Smiley Happy

I have a floating pool built on "Unidesk VMs" that I use for remote access purposes for everyone and for our standard users in the office.   I have all the base applications that we use loaded in it.   I use folder redirection to send the Desktop, Documents, Favorites, and Downloads over to our storage system, then have MS roaming profiles configured for an OU containing these machines.   Appdata basically is all that gets stored on the profile share, so user logons are super quick.   I've even turned on Microsoft UE-V, which is so slick I just giggle every time I see it work (basically saves application configs in a central repository as XML files and pulls/pushes them back when apps are opened, closed, etc.)   UE-V allows my full PC users to have their applications settings, such as their Office Themes or whatever, populate into the VDI environment automatically, giving a more consistent experience across devices.

Anyway, don't throw it all out just because you won't get the user personalization layer on floating pools.   There's still a ton of advantages with it....

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Chlsmith
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I've used it for a couple months an absolutely love it.   It basically replaces all of the "extra" features of View, other than the actual broker.  You create your OS image, your application layers, and your templates, all within the Unidesk admin console, then spin them up from there.   The integration between Unidesk and View is basically just a PowerCLI command to add the newly-created machine into the View pool.  All VMware ends up seeing is a manually-built machine with the View Agent.

This takes the idea of app deployment (Mirage, SCCM, ThinApp, App-V, or however you do it) that either doesn't work or takes a PhD to configure and tosses them out the window.   Unidesk also replaces the Composer pieces, as it holds the image itself.   I use View only for the broker and security server at this point.

The added awesome benefit of it is how the layers are all stacked upon each other to form the PCs.   Every layer is basically a VMDK file, and they're all mounted read-only (non-persistent, I think in VMware terms).   The only files mounted persistent is "user personalization layer", which breaks into a user part and an app config part.   So if your normal VDI machine has, say, 8 Gigs of Windows, 2 Gigs for user settings, and 10 Gigs of applications stored on it, you are looking at 20 GB per machine.   If you have 100 of these, normally you'd expect to need 100 * 20 GB of storage.   Since Unidesk utilizes the shared VMDK files for apps and the OS, you're looking at only 100 * 2 + 18 GB for the whole environment.   Tell your SAN admin that she needs to buy you a cup of coffee or something....I keep telling ours that but I'm still forced to bring my Folgers from home.

All told, I really love the solution.   Better yet, IT WORKS.   I had it fully running in a matter of a week in my environment, and that's including layering all the apps myself.  I'm early in my VDI rollout, but I've had nothing but positive reactions from my users, and my storage admin didn't have to bite my head off, either.  Maybe she's into tea......

mittim12
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As

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Chlsmith
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You have to keep these things in mind.   Any applications pushed via GPO, SCCM, WSUS, or any other management application will get dropped into the User Personalization Layer.  This is one area that I could see being an issue.   If you then go back and run updates on the base OS or on an application layer underneath, and update the machine, the user personalization layer changes will still take precedent.  

In our environment, I disabled Windows Update via GPO for my Unidesk machines and manually maintain the base OS image.   I schedule the update to a couple of test VMs and I build a new VM with the new updated OS layer, just to make sure both work.   Then and only then do I schedule the update to all the machines I want, with the option to boot people off of the machine if they are logged on.   If I forget that last part, I get to chase my tail for a day or two getting the machines updated that have people who stay on them all the time.   Smiley Happy

It's a very small price to pay for updating all of those machines in an evening.  The only applications that I know are embedded on my machines after they are completely spun up are my Forefront AV client and the Websense Endpoint Client that we push through GPO.   They get updated all the time anyway, so I really can't update my base OS that often.

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jeytntechedu
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Have been a Unidesk user for about 2 years now and have been very happy with the product for managing our VDI deployment. Chismith summaried most of the key points. Also, maybe it is something with SAN admins, I don't think our's is big on coffee either...

However, I'm in the exact oposite situation as mittim12, have ~600 VDI desktops deployed with Unidesk right now, and all of those are non-persistent, floating assignment.

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PruBowl
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Been a Unidesk customer for almost 3 years now. We are local government and have been rolling out desktops to full departments replacing their old desktops with thin/zero clients.  He are almost all persistent desktops and are current over 150 desktop, but getting ready to make a huge push. It is really easy to install, configure, create, deploy, and manage your desktops.  It is child's play compared to using ThinApp and VMWare's solutions. The only issue we have ever had was because we have been a customer for so long that our VM Hardware version was outdated for some for new View features, but Unidesk support was able to provide us with an easy solution and we actually were able to update all the VMs without a problem. They provide a free demo and can work along side your View deployment currently, so there really isn't a good reason not to give it a shot.  Just realize that it will blow your mind on how easy VDI truly is...

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vcpguy
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mittim12 wrote:

As

do need to keep in mind it's a mainly a persistent desktop solution, which means you need a desktop for every user.

could you please explain this further. We are still looking into unidesk and I am not pro in it.

Thanks

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Please don't forget to reward Points for helpful hints; answers; suggestions. My blog: http://vmwaredevotee.com
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mittim12
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The Unidesk personalization layer which is where all profile settings are stored is only available in a persistent desktop model which means you would have to create a Unidesk desktop for every unique users.    They do have a non persistent model but the personalization layer would be reset on logoff or a reboot. 

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Chlsmith
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While you are right that by using a floating pool, you kind of remove the value of the User Personalization Layer, you still gain a lot of advantages.

1.  You still get to keep exactly 1 gold image of the OS.

2.  You still deploy the apps as layers.

3.  You still get the storage savings.

I would even add a fourth:  the machines go back to default when the users disconnect.   In any floating type pool, you are going to have some sort of roaming data solution in place.   Maybe roaming profiles and folder redirection from a strictly MS background, or a third party solution of some sort, whatever, so there's no loss of features as far as the users are concerned.   As someone who has 15 years of dealing with those from a terminal services and desktop support model, let me tell you that I would've loved nothing more than a system that would automatically revert to original state with each reboot.   Smiley Happy

I have a floating pool built on "Unidesk VMs" that I use for remote access purposes for everyone and for our standard users in the office.   I have all the base applications that we use loaded in it.   I use folder redirection to send the Desktop, Documents, Favorites, and Downloads over to our storage system, then have MS roaming profiles configured for an OU containing these machines.   Appdata basically is all that gets stored on the profile share, so user logons are super quick.   I've even turned on Microsoft UE-V, which is so slick I just giggle every time I see it work (basically saves application configs in a central repository as XML files and pulls/pushes them back when apps are opened, closed, etc.)   UE-V allows my full PC users to have their applications settings, such as their Office Themes or whatever, populate into the VDI environment automatically, giving a more consistent experience across devices.

Anyway, don't throw it all out just because you won't get the user personalization layer on floating pools.   There's still a ton of advantages with it....

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