Within XenApp environments three main pain points basically existed from day one. These are
- Application Compatibility (got much better with Application Isolation / Streaming and the availability of XenDesktop for really recalcitrant apps)
- Printing (much better since UPD is available and printer drivers have been removed from kernel level)
- …and last but not least user profiles.
User profiles are actually not a particular XenApp challenge. Even in “normal” Windows environments you will find admins complaining and users too, although they typically don’t know that user profiles are causing the issues they experience. Interestingly enough in most cases it’s not the user profile technology itself that is causing issues but the implementation of it. The reasons are twofold:
- Technology: Microsoft has implemented three profile types (local, mandatory, roaming), which can be combined in certain ways giving you six different options of implementing user profiles, whereof each has specific pros and cons. Furthermore many 3rd party companies (including Citrix) have build their own products to optimize the user profile flexibility, ease the maintenance and minimize downtimes related to profiles. Unfortunately many admins out there are not aware of all options, which makes it basically impossible for them to choose the optimal solution.
- Requirements: Users, applications, the Windows architecture or even the underlying XenApp/XenDesktop infrastructure have certain requirements for user profile functionality. To pick the optimal solution, an administrator has to know the requirements but also needs to know the right questions to ask.