The importance of user personalization within your virtual desktop

I just got off the phone with Citrix helpdesk because I finally messed up my virtual desktop. I have a dedicated virtual desktop and I guess I installed/uninstalled too many things over the past few years. The same thing always happened to me with a traditional desktop. The good thing is that it only took the helpdesk a few moments to reset my virtual desktop to a base image and I didn’t have to sit and install Windows 7 and Office for the 100th time.

This experience got me to the next question from Project Accelerator: The importance of personalization.

We all know what personalization is. What rights you, as a user, have in altering the initial state of the desktop/application environment. Can you change a setting in an app? Can you install apps? Can you change OS-level settings? Can you even change the background (seriously???)

Why does personalization matter? We need to align the technical solution with the user requirements. In Project Accelerator, we break this down into three levels:

  1. No personalization: User cannot modify any desktop or app setting (similar to a kiosk)
  2. Basic personalization: User can modify user-level settings within desktops and apps
  3. Complete personalization: User can make any change, including installing applications

Easy, just pick the one most appropriate for your users group. Let’s think hard about this because if you get this wrong, your users will be ready to revolt. Imagine you gave a user a pooled desktop. They installed an app. The next day, the app is gone. User thinks this is strange. Maybe I was under severe medications yesterday and I only imagined myself installing the app. So they do it again. Bam, next day, the app is gone. Now they start to get angry and they let you know about it.

This scenario plays out all the time. If you assess your users, you should understand what level of personalization they require. The “No Personalization” item is usually the easiest to identify as these users typcially make up a very specific use case.  However, we often get into the debate between Basic and Complete.   I say when in doubt, go with complete. Your users will be happier in the long term, which will probably make you happier as well.

As you can imagine, this one decision plays a big role in determining what kind of virtual desktop the user gets, but it does more than that. This one question influences:

  • FlexCast: what type of virtual desktop the user receives
  • Deployment order of your user group
  • Which folders to redirect
  • What type of profile to use
  • What type of XenClient image to use
  • XenClient backup storage requirements

Choose wisely.

Daniel – Lead Architect

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