A little while ago I wrote an article about Cloud Data Solutions like Dropbox, Box.net, Mozy Stash and Project Octopus and that these products can’t be installed in a Floating Pool VDI environment today. The Dropbox client gets installed in a user’s profile so you can’t install it in your master/parents/golden image VM and deploy it to your users. Other products save their config information (server, account name/email address and password) in HKLM in stead of something which is roaming like User\AppData\Roaming. That means all users would have to fill in their credentials every time they logon to a new VM. That’s not the way you want it to be, right?
But, is this the only issue when you look at Cloud Data solutions and roaming desktop users? Let’s brainstorm some more. Let’s assume this client issue can be fixed. Fixing where it saves the credential information shouldn’t be too hard to fix, right?!
So, let’s set the baseline here; we have a VMware View environment (the issues probably apply to other solutions as well), Floating pools, refresh after first use, roaming profile/Persona Management and Folder Redirection, and a Cloud data agent which is working just fine in a floating environment.
What happens when a user logs on for the first time? First thing that needs to be done is to configure the agent. Fill in a username, password and the URL of the Data server/provider. Dropbox, Mozy and other will place their own folder under user\data folder so you are ready to go. Add data to that folder and it will be synced to the “Cloud” (and this Cloud can be on or off premise).
Second time a users logs on, there is no need to fill in the credentials anymore. That was fixed. Yay! The folder under user\data folder is there as well. It’s being roamed by Roaming Profiles/Persona Management and so is your data. Maybe you will have to wait a bit till everything is in sync.
Data is part of your profile (in this example). Is that what we want? Not really. First of all, you will get a huge profile with all that data. When you are using Roaming Profiles you might experience slow logon and logoff times. This is much better with Persona Management though. Secondly, and more important, aren’t you saving data twice now? One time in the Cloud and 1 time in your profile. Your company probably paid an amount of money to get that “Cloud based data storage environment”, like Dropbox/Box.net/Mozy Stash. In this case they also have to invest more money in disks for their file servers because Roaming Profiles are exploding in size and they are saved on central file servers. Folder redirection to speed up logon time when you use Roaming Profiles won’t change a thing. You still need to have central storage to redirect to.
So, this way, data will become expensive. How to solve these issues? Well, the easiest way is not to use an (offline) client. You won’t have the client issues inside a floating desktop and you won’t have to save data twice. Everything you do regarding your data is via your browser. Create a document and upload it directly to the Cloud. Realistically, this can be done but it’s difficult, especially when you edit documents a lot; downloading, edit, uploading again.
Maybe the offline clients can redirect data in a smart way; the folder does show content but it all is located in the Cloud. When you double click a file, then it will be downloaded to your machine, to a temp cache folder. Same happens to other way around. When you drag and drop a file from your VM into the data folder, it will sync to the Cloud and deleted from your VM.
I’m not a developer so I’m not sure if this is possible. What I do know is that Cloud based data solutions and VDI still need some work and thinking. I’m positive though. It will be great.