By: Frank Ohlhorst dnu
Version 1.0 of Unidesk's self-named VDI management tool enables organizations deploying virtual desktop infrastructure to take advantage of the centralized management perks of VDI without sacrificing the individual desktop flexibility that users have come to expect from traditional, locally installed operating systems.
With Unidesk 1.0, administrators can dynamically provision virtual desktops upon user request using a layering methodology to build a virtual desktop that incorporates an operating system, applications and user personalization settings. The personalization settings allow users to not only preserve their settings but also install local applications, store .pst files and keep registry changes.
In the past, typical VDI deployments forced users to share a common OS image, eliminating the ability to personalize their desktops. To offer personalization, administrators would have to maintain every virtual machine separately, requiring massive amounts of storage. Worse yet, each of those virtual desktops would have to be managed separately, meaning that upgrades, patches and other changes would have to be applied to hundreds of different desktops, eliminating one of the primary advantages of VDI-simplified OS maintenance.
By layering the OS and application levels, Unidesk makes it so only master images of the OS and applications need to be stored, which significantly reduces storage requirements and allows administrators to patch or upgrade hundreds of virtual PCs by just working with those master images. The personalization layer for each user is stored in a relatively small file, which further reduces storage needs. The net result is a VDI implementation that requires a fraction of the storage space used by a traditional VDI installation that offers personalization. Unidesk claims that organizations will see a reduction in storage needs exceeding 70 percent in most cases.
Unidesk's ability to solve the major problems associated with VDI, while improving management capabilities, the end-user experience and protecting applications from corruption, makes Unidesk a useful product for administrators dealing with balky VDI implementations or looking to regain control of personalized virtual desktops.
Beyond these storage savings, I was impressed by the way Unidesk's image layering approach worked to simplify VDI deployment and management. I could deal with OS or application upgrades by simply creating new or modified images, which I could then distribute to multiple machines, right away or in a scheduled rollout. That gives administrators the ability to stagger deployments, which can help to keep service calls at a manageable number, further removing much of the administrative burden associated with help desk requests.
Unidesk 1.0 is sold through the company's network of solution partners, with pricing that starts at $150 per named user and decreases with volume.