Initially, most administrators of a VDI environment may see no real need for something like VMware View Persona Management. In fact, one of the benefits of VDI is that Windows Roaming Profiles are typically not needed for roaming users, because a user can be allowed access to the same virtual desktop even when logging into it from various physical locations. But some use cases still call for a user’s data to move with the user from one virtual desktop to another. In these cases, Roaming Profiles could be used, but VMware View Persona Management may be preferred.
In a traditional desktop environment, some users frequently roam from one physical desktop to another and expect easy access to their data and custom desktop settings. Typically, this need is met by utilizing Folder Redirection and Windows Roaming Profiles. Folder Redirection is used to store user data files in a central location. Roaming Profiles are used to automatically transfer the user profile to and from the user desktop during login and logoff operations. Although many Active Directory domains include successful deployments of Roaming Profiles, many administrators tend to avoid them due to the associated challenges. Typically, the main issue is lengthy login and logoff times, which could occur for users with large amounts of user data, who access desktops in locations having slow network connections.
In a VDI environment, persistent desktop connections can be configured allowing users to access the same virtual desktop each time they login, regardless of the location of the physical client device. In such scenarios, the user’s data could be stored directly in the virtual desktop, so Folder Redirection and Roaming Profiles are not necessary. However, in some VDI environments, non-persistent desktop connections are preferred.
In a non-persistent pool of desktops, users are not permanently assigned a specific desktop. Instead, each time a user logs in, the user is assigned an available desktop from the pool, but not necessarily the same desktop the user was granted during a previous session. Each time a user logs off a virtual desktop, the desktop is made available to the next valid user, who attempts to access it. Such pools are helpful in use cases, where no user data or customizations are saved within the Windows desktop.
Non-persistent pools provide a lot of administrative benefits, making them attractive to administrators. The main obstacle is the challenge of allowing users easy access to their data and customizations, although they are frequently logging into different virtual desktops. This is use case for Windows Roaming Profiles. But, for VMware View based VDI environments, the use of VMware View Persona Management may be a better alternative.
VMware View Persona Management is fairly simple to configure and manage. It provides more efficient logins than Roaming Profiles, because it is designed to only transfer data as needed. During login operations, only the Windows Registry settings and other items that are needed immediately are transferred. Other items are transferred when needed or as configured by the administrator. Changes are replicated at regular intervals (10 minutes by default) back to the central repository. At logoff, only the remaining changes need to be transferred, which results in faster logoffs.
In most cases, View Persona Management is accompanied with Windows Folder Redirection, so the user’s data and documents are not stored within the profile, but on a shared folder in the datacenter. Persona Management is utilized to ensure Windows Registry settings are also provided to the desktop, since Folder Redirection does not provide them.
Due to the efficiency and ease of administration, many VMware View Administrators lean towards building new desktop pools as Linked Clones (desktops that share the same base disk) with non-persistent (Floating) connections that include View Persona Management and Folder Redirection. Whenever a particular use case does not fit this preference, then another type of pool is selected.