Putting a Personal Touch on Desktop Virtualization

Michael Vizard

One of the issues that divides IT organizations and the people they serve is to what degree end users should be able to personalize their desktop computing environment.

Obviously, IT organizations want to keep support costs to a minimum by maintaining as much uniformity as possible. End users, on the other hand, want to emphasize the personal part of the computing experience.

IT organizations today are being more aggressive about costs than ever by moving to adopt virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions as an alternative to terminal services. In either scenario, IT organizations are trying to reduce support costs by centralizing more desktop computing environments around the server, rather than relying on each client system.

Fortunately, there does appear now to be a way to have one's cake and eat it too. AppSense has developed a set of tools that allows IT organizations to abstract the personal settings and user data for each virtual desktop attached to a VDI implementation from either VMware or Citrix. That means that end users, to the degree that the IT department allows, can still customize their desktop application environments without necessarily running afoul of the IT department's need to centralize operations in order to cut costs.


AppSense, at a cost of about $40 per user, essentially allows IT organizations to overcome one of the primary sources of resistance that end users have about any desktop virtualization solution. The only real question remaining is whether the organization wants to make the initial upfront investment required to adopt VDI, or whether this is something that no matter what the total cost savings, still represents emerging technology whose time has not yet come.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 30, 2009 4:53 PM Tom Rose Tom Rose  says:

Mike, nice to find you again, I remember briefing you on my first startup company back when you were at InfoWorld. Great to see you blogging on desktop virtualization, and exposing end user personalization as one of the big barriers to VDI adoption. Profile management tools such as AppSense are one way to address the problem, but there is a new class of solutions that will deliver 100% persistent personalization for VDI - including user-installed apps.  Gartner takes an in-depth look in a recent research note: http://blog.unidesk.com/virtual-desktop-management-blog/bid/9437/Gartner-On-How-to-Make-Desktop-Virtualization-More-Personal

Look forward to telling you more about Unidesk and how we fit in this space as we emerge from stealth in the coming months.

Tom Rose

Unidesk CMO

Sep 30, 2009 6:02 PM Wolfgang Wolfgang  says:

Allowing the user some degree of control and a full desktop is the difference between making or breaking this model. In the old terminal days the user was basically stuck with whatever the IT or department heads provisioned, this of course gave rise to the unbridled desktop, people wanted some control or at least the feeling of control. We're on the right track and I believe this time around we can do it right.

Oct 2, 2009 11:45 AM Martin Ingram Martin Ingram  says:


I totally agree-the objective here is to make the PC a manageable platform. That means that the user gets an appropriate level of control over their environment so that they can be happy and productive while IT gets  a platform it can manage cost effectively.

That is what we are delivering in this space-flexibility for the user and visibility and manageability for IT.


Hi Tom. How is UniDesk doing?

Martin Ingram (AppSense)

Oct 6, 2009 4:15 PM Tom Rose Tom Rose  says: in response to Martin Ingram


Hi Martin, Unidesk is doing well, headed into Beta soon for our VDI management platform.  Agree with you completely that the goal is give IT centralized control, management, and auditability of desktops while giving users ultimate flexibility and personalization - all at the same low cost of managing a single locked-down desktop.

Nice to see us both saying these seemingly opposing objectives are possible, need more than 1 voice to change 20 years of thinking that IT has to choose between "locked-down" or "user-mayhem!"

Tom Rose (Unidesk)


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