One of the things that has to be understood is that the innovation that was done in the server world with vSphere/vCloud is now happening in the enterprise desktop world with the Horizon Suite. The concept of the desktop today has changed significantly over the years. When computers were first introduced in the work environment, it was a slow tool that was used. But only used for things such as a database maintenance and such. In 1995, Microsoft introduced Windows 95 with great fan fare and home computer use increased significantly as a result of that and the advent of more general access to the internet (e.g., Broadband, DSL, AOL, etc.).
This resulted in a change in the way computers were used at work. No longer was a tool used to maintain databases about sales or salaries but rather to generate data to be sold. The Information Age exploded. Unfortunately, most environments did not maintain processes to control the data and left it up to end users to do so. For a while this meant mounds of floppy disks and many long nights recovering data when hard drives failed or “Oops!” happened. As time passed, users got very attached to their desktops to nearly an overly possessive manner.
When I was an IT administrator at a private school, this was particularly evident when I had to take back the school’s property at the course and see what students (all adult, post-secdonary level) had put on their laptops. Even in the work place we would see this happen and still happens. Users become very attached to “their” desktops. The PC (personal computer) had become very personal in how it was viewed and utilized.
These days enterprise desktop is about reclaiming the desktop back from the the end user and make it more of an enterprise resource that it once was. The first part is to separate user created items (i.e., data, persona, registry settings, etc.).Once that is decoupled from the desktop then provisioning virtual machines as desktops becomes far, far easier. Part of what helps with this is the use of “use cases”. These use cases are defined as how a specific set of users utilize the desktop, including the applications and application mix; peripherals; and other parts of the desktop. It’s not specifically the hardware, software or the role the user has but where those three things meet. Generally speaking there are 4 use cases:
1. Task Worker: this particular use case is someone who has a small subset of applications that they use constantly (usually 3-5). They cannot install any new applications and likely have a desktop with a locked profile on it as it’s used by multiple people. A kiosk-type desktop also fits into this as the user has a limited need as to what is accessed. Examples include call centers, hotel or airline ticketing staff, library kiosks, etc.
2. Knowledge Worker: This person usually has a core set of applications that are used and may even have some specialized ones. In some cases they may have the ability to install software but ideally they do not. They usually have more varied tasks and are not usually tied to a specific shift time or specific defined tasks as part of their daily activities. Examples include general managers, consultants, system engineers, etc.
3. Developer/Administrator (heavy use worker): Usually this use case is for those that do a fair amount on their systems with a wide range of applications, local administrator rights and the ability to install applications.
4. Mobile Workers (may include telecommuting workers): this is a variation of the knowledge worker and/or developer-type of worker (depending on the organization). Because this user could be external to the critical network and may even be in a scenario with limited to no internet access, the needs of this worker would be different from the others.
Defining these within an organization can then help define the desktop images needed within an environment. The ideal is to limit the number of “master” or “golden” images that are needed by an organization. At the same time, however, do not limit the number of images for the sake of keeping them low. Creating 50 can make it difficult to manage just as having as few as 1 may limit the ability to truly define the environment accurately.