Citrix XenDesktop 5 “Dedicated” machine catalog

I’ve been working with a company here in the Denver area and they’ve been looking specifically for this type of virtual machine catalog/pool.  The scenario is a group of Power Users who use fully provisioned virtual desktops today.  They expect to install their own applications and have these installs persisted.  In XenDesktop 4 there really was no reasonable way of delivering this (and still feeling good at the end of the day…I know it can be done with PVS…but ugly method).  Well in Citrix XenDesktop 5 this has all changed…YAY!

A Dedicated Machine Catalog is one that starts from a master/gold VM but all changes to the desktop are persisted.  The user can be assigned to this VM manually or automatically on first connection and will always then be assigned/connected to that virtual machine.  As I said earlier, for users used to installing whatever applications they want whenever they want and have an expectation of persistence of those changes…this is the pool for them!  If you can move to delivery method such as XenApp for delivery of those applications and can capture profile changes via UPM or AppSense then a Pooled Machine Catalog would be more appropriate.  The Dedicated Machine Catalog isn’t where you want to start with your users, but if you are like most large organizations some part of your end-user population will probably need it.

More information here: Choosing the Machine Type

5 thoughts on “Citrix XenDesktop 5 “Dedicated” machine catalog

  1. Hi Dan,

    any idea where i can find documentation on how to make changes to the master VM and control what impact this has on the members of the catalogue that were created using that VM? I am finding it hard to find decent in-depth technical documentation on XD5.

    Cheers,

    Gord

    1. Per the documentation, you would manage a dedicated pool with traditional windows management software. Dedicated pools definitely aren’t the model we sell when looking at Desktop Virtualization solutions…but for some users in an organization it is a fit and allows more workloads to fit into the XenDesktop model(s).

      http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xendesktop-rho/cds-manage-scheme-rho.html?resultof=%22%64%65%64%69%63%61%74%65%64%22%20%22%64%65%64%69%63%22%20
      http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xendesktop-rho/cds-choose-scheme-type-rho.html?resultof=%22%64%65%64%69%63%61%74%65%64%22%20%22%64%65%64%69%63%22%20

  2. Another option is to use Unidesk as the provisioning and management platform. Unidesk uses desktop layering technology to dynamically create persistent VMs that have all of the single image management benefits and storage savings of non-persistent virtual desktops, but gives each user a fully persistent personalization layer that sustains all user-installed apps, profile settings, SIDs, GUIDs, etc. You access Unidesk VMs from the XenDesktop broker just as you would thick-provisioned VMs or shared image VMs created by PVS.

    Only downside is Unidesk requires a VMware back-end today, so all Unidesk/XenDesktop customers are currently using vSphere/ESX as the hypervisor. Support for XenServer and Hyper-V is coming.

  3. another downside to unidesk is the drivers required to install in the virtual machines have a lot of conflicts with programs (especially installers)–in some cases you simply cannot install an application without waiting several weeks for a fix to be made from tech support. Sometimes things get corrupted during the update if a bug is encountered.

    1. We’re not aware of these problems, and I couldn’t find any record of you in our support database. One of the advantages of layering technology is the ability to resolve conflicts by changing layer priorities, so even if such a problem did occur, you could simply increase the driver layer priority over the other app layers. Another advantage of layering is that it’s a great delivery engine for virtualized applications. So you could also do what many customers do when they want to eliminate any possibility of conflict – package the app in ThinApp or App-V, and deliver it as a Unidesk layer.

      If you’re at VMworld, please stop by booth 555, would be good to meet you. We’ll also have 6 customers in the booth explaining how they’re using Unidesk to deliver all kinds of apps – departmental apps, user-installed apps, drivers, antivirus, etc.

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