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Simplifying the mystery of persistent or non-persistent desktops for client virtualization

Author:  Kirk Manzer

Title:  Technologist and Architect, Client Virtualization


With HP VirtualSystem CV2 for Citrix XenDesktop on Microsoft Hyper-V


Discussing client virtualization is like opening up Pandora’s Box—with a seemingly endless number of terms, ideas, and questions.  Client Virtualization can be as broad as implying bringing a desktop to an end user to as specific as a non-persistent streamed desktop, or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). 


A hosted desktop solution is straight forward--all users sharing the same desktop interface from a server on the back-end, with no opportunity for user customization.  Updates need only be applied to the server to affect all of the users.  This approach works very well for entry level users running only a few apps and no requirement to modify or customize their environment. 


For a virtual desktop, persistent and non-persistent users need to be considered.  A persistent user maintains changes to their desktop between logins.  A non-persistent user gets a fresh new desktop from a base image every time they log in.  The primary difference between a hosted desktop user and a non-persistent user is user isolation.  What one user does in the hosted desktop environment can affect other users in that hosted environment; all users are sharing the memory and CPU of the server. 


In many cases instituting a client virtualization solution is not a single solution, but a hybrid model.  Companies that have tried to use hosted desktops for all users have found that not all users fit into the entry level user, nor do they all use the same applications. 


Persistent desktops allow for isolation of users, and allow different user to have different applications.  However, companies that have simply converted their existing desktop images into persistent desktops have found it created bloated images, requires more storage and effort to maintain, and is a more costly model to support than dedicated desktops. 


For VDI, the non-persistent user is the most desired model.  Either a single or several images to maintain, no one user can affect other users, and the amount of required storage can be reduced.  However, and there always seems to be a however, users cannot customize their environments unless user virtualization is done using current Citrix tools or a third party application like AppSense or LiquidWare Labs software  to manage the user environment.  User virtualization allows for each user to customize their environment, and maintain that customization across logins.


Citrix has the FlexCast model, allowing for multiple ways to deliver the desktop to the end user, from using the hosted desktop capabilities of Citrix XenApp, to creating a virtual desktop that is streamed to an end user device using XenDesktop and Provisioning server.  And now with XenDesktop 5.6, Citrix has added personal vDisks, PvD.  One of the downsides to non-persistent VMs even with user virtualization is allowing a user to install customized or specific software that only they have a need access.  The PvD from Citrix allows a non-persistent user to become a persistent user, but still use the same base image.  These users still boot from the master image maintained by IT, but have the capability to customize their environment, even install software, and have those changes remain across logins. 


No matter which types of desktops are created, HP VirtualSystem CV2 for Citrix XenDesktop on Microsoft Hyper-V provides the data center support required.  This solution is designed from the ground up to be complete, simple to deploy and ready to scale. Within a single rack, the solution contains everything you need to deliver desktop virtualization including servers, storage, cabling, PDU’s, Microsoft Server 2008 R2 Data Center, and HP Insight Control for Microsoft System Center.  The CV2 is factory-integrated so all the hardware is installed, cabled, and working together before shipment.  Once onsite, HP services installs the solution, loads the software, and connects it to the network enabling fast time to production.


Come see the HP client virtualization solutions at Citrix Synergy and meet the experts to help you accelerate your client virtualization plans.  Not attending Citrix Synergy?  No worries - get more information at the HP client virtualization website.


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