Writable Volumes Delivers Profile Persistence for Box Drive and Office 365

Dec 17, 2018
Jeff Ulatoski

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Jeff Ulatoski is currently a Senior Product Manager in End-User Computing (EUC) at VMware. Jeff has over 20 years of IT software development experience. His areas of experience include large enterprise software deployments, business process analysis and end-user computing systems. He is part of the team responsible for EUC product management and focuses on Horizon and App Volumes.

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Written in collaboration with Brigitte Skakkebaek, Product Line Marketing Manager, Horizon

Are your problems persistent? In contrast to persistent desktops, which dedicate datacenter resources to a particular user and must be individually managed, non-persistent desktops are newly created from a single image every time the user logs in. With Horizon Just-in-time Management Platform (JMP) technologies such as Instant Clones, App Volumes and User Environment Manager, desktop admins can get the best of both worlds–easier management with a single image while still maintaining persistence to the desktop user experience.

Our latest App Volumes releases improve the user experience with Writable Volume persistence in three areas:

  • Streamlined access and usability for content file sharing with Box Drive
  • Office 365: Outlook Cached Exchange, real-time search and OneDrive file cache
  • Profile-only template for Writable Volumes

Box Drive Integration

Non-persistent desktops are easier to manage, but the challenge lies in making a brand new, non-persistent desktop feel like the same one you log into every single day. For example, one of our larger customers in Japan was experiencing “Groundhog Day”- which is a reference to a movie where the characters relive the same day over and over. Every time they would log back into their Horizon desktop they would need to also log into Box Drive, and it would seem as though it was their very first time. Box Drive had no memory of their settings and preferences from session to session.

We teamed up with Box for a deeper integration of our products, creating a solution that maintains Box Drive persistence across sessions. For example, when users log into Box from a Horizon virtual desktop, App Volumes will now retain the credentials to automatically log them into Box Drive and also cache their most recent files in the user’s writable volume.  We are excited about our partnership with Box.  Read the blog from Box for more information.

Office 365

Box isn’t the only place we have been solving these challenges. VMware has been continually focusing on persisting Office 365 productivity applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business. Without the use of writable volume technology, users would need to either download from servers every time they log in or switch over to the browser version of Office applications to view and modify their files–this is a very different experience from Office applications that are installed locally on their machine. With Writable Volumes, Office performs as if were installed locally on a high performance desktop.

In App Volumes 2.15 users will now see that the OneDrive client will work as it does on a classic Windows desktop.  And earlier this year, in App Volumes 2.14, VMware solved a similar persistence challenge for enabling Outlook to run in Cached Exchange Mode and persist Outlook and Windows indexes for real-time search.  Now desktop administrators can provide Office 365 users the Windows client experience they want while gaining the full administration benefits of non-persistent VDI.

Profile-only Writable Volumes

In addition to strengthening support for cloud-based file sharing, App Volumes 2.15 adds a Profile-only template for Writable Volumes. This new template allows IT admins to create Writable Volumes that will only persist profile-related changes. Administrators now have the power to reduce the information saved in a users’ Writable Volume by excluding specific folders from with-in the user’s profile.  For example, an admin could exclude the C:\Users\%Username%\Downloads folder so that files downloaded during the user’s session are not persisted across logins.

With VMware’s JMP technology, we are continually working to enable our Desktop Administrators to refine the user’s desktop experience. Visit VMware’s website to try out App Volumes and the new features included with 2.15 for cloud file sharing, Office 365 and Profile-only Writable Volumes.

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