One of the biggest challenges when migrating from XenApp 4.5/5 on Windows Server 2003 to XenApp 5/6/6.5 on Windows Server 2008/2008R2 can be to transition the user from V1 to V2 profiles. Perhaps this is not as big an issue if you use mandatory profiles that the user cannot change, but for the majority of the installations I have seen, either roaming or a flexible/hybrid profile model is in use, hence, how can the user profile data be migrated to the V2 profile model? What if the XenApp 4.5 and XenApp 6.5 farms will co-exist for some measure of time and you want users to be able to login to both farms without their profiles corrupting?
Enter Liquidware Labs – ProfileUnity
I encourage you to check out the product for a full listing of its many features, but the one I am going to focus on is its ability to allow users with a single profile to seamlessly login using a V1 or V2 profile.
Many Citrix administrators may currently be using Citrix User Profile Manager for profile management and I will say that it is easy to setup and configure with Group Policies, I like being able to specify a “Template Profile”, and I have read that you can use rulesets to allow for some measure of profile seamlessness but that its limited and not recommended for long-term co-existence.
ProfileUnity is complimentary with Citrix UPM, but its abilities go beyond those offered by UPM. In heterogeneous environments, ProfileUnity makes it easy for users can seamlessly go between profile versions. ProfileUnity is able to grab the typical settings, any application settings or registry settings, without complex rulesets. Additionally, ProfileUnity can make any file or folder portable, not just those items in the roaming profile. This comes in handy when working with home grown, non-standard applications that store data outside the regular profile.
The process is simple enough:
1. A user logs into a XenApp session
2. At logoff, the profiles are harvested and written to a location on the network using zipped archives. I believe the default location is the users home directory.
3. When a user logs in, the ProfileUnity archive is pulled down to the server, uncompressed, and written to the appropriate V1 or V2 profile structure.
**Notice that ProfileUnity compresses the profile data, thus saving storage space.
The Architecture is also simple. Basically, all that’s required is a network file share for the user data (which they typically already have for their home directory) and ProfileUnity recommends that a few small files (totaling 7MB) be stored on the Netlogon share, these files will include client.exe which executes ProfileUnity, the ProfileUnity license file, ADM templates, and a configuration file controlling what ProfileUnity writes to the users data storage location. ProfileUnity has stated that this simple configuration can scale to 10s of 1000s of users.
Finally, ProfileUnity also works on physical hardware. So if you will be migrating from XP to Windows7, ProfileUnity may be of value for the desktop support teams.