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Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity brings users, apps and data together

Windows roaming profiles and VDI vendors' user profile management tools often fall short of the user experience and IT control companies want, which is where Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity comes in.

Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity provides IT with a centralized platform to control user environments across virtual...

and physical desktops.

Organizations can use ProfileUnity to manage user profiles and application rights, or to deliver applications separately from desktops using the platform's FlexApp application layering tool.

ProfileUnity is optimized for environments that support a mix of desktop and application delivery products, including Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, VMware Horizon and ThinApp and the Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor. ProfileUnity also supports virtual and physical desktops running versions of the Windows operating system from Windows XP to Windows 10. Regardless of the mix, ProfileUnity provides each user with a single profile, including data, settings and apps, which spans all systems.

IT administrators can implement ProfileUnity in their current environments without installing additional backend systems or dedicated servers; the software can install on servers alongside existing virtualization software.

Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity is a standalone product that consists of three primary components: the ProfileUnity Management Console, FlexApp Packaging Console and a desktop client app. The Management Console provides a central location for IT to configure user and machine policies, and the desktop client manages users' settings and persona during the active virtual or physical desktop user sessions. The FlexApp Packaging Console lets IT prepare applications to deliver in layered groups.

Two options for using ProfileUnity FlexApp

Companies can choose from two models when using FlexApp: department-installed apps (DIA) or user-installed apps (UIA).

FlexApp DIA is the more commonly used option. In this model, admins package and deliver applications to specific users or groups, using the context-aware filters to control access. The DIA model reduces the number of base images needed to support a company's user base, because IT can deliver the apps separately rather than including them in department-specific master images. FlexApp DIA also makes it easier to upgrade and maintain apps, because admins can update them individually without needing to change the base image.

The second model is FlexApp UIA, which is a more specialized approach to layering that let IT grant selected users the right to install their own applications without affecting the base image for their virtual desktops. The applications remain portable and can follow users wherever they login to their systems, while still giving them control over the installation.

Together, these components provide an organization with user environment management (UEM), a catch-all phrase to describe the wide scope of delivering a strong and consistent user experience.

Managing user profiles

ProfileUnity is useful for supporting mixed computing environments.

ProfileUnity replaces the need for roaming profiles while retaining the native format of Windows profiles. IT can also use it in place of XenDesktop and Horizon's built-in user profile management tools. ProfileUnity supports Windows desktops across the full spectrum of delivery mechanisms, including VDI, Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host, desktop as a service and basic physical desktops.

ProfileUnity includes context-aware settings to help manage profiles and applications, including allowing IT to map drives and printers or to redirect folders. ProfileUnity can determine when, where and how users log in and then permit or prevent access to resources and applications based on that information.

The platform also integrates with Active Directory, which means administrators can use ProfileUnity to apply configuration and profile settings to specific users and groups based on organizational units, user names, subnets, IP addresses, machine names and other criteria.

One of the big benefits of ProfileUnity is that it simplifies profile and data migration from one Windows version to the next. The platform is essentially Windows-agnostic across virtual and physical environments, so each user profile is both backward and forward compatible. Users can log off their Windows XP desktops and log in to Windows 10 with little disruption to the user experience.

In addition, ProfileUnity can serve as part of a disaster recovery strategy. It stores and maintains personas, data and apps in a separate location, allowing IT to restore desktops in quick order regardless of location.

Application rights management

The application rights management capabilities built into Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity let IT allow or deny app delivery, installation or execution on any managed desktop. Admins can assign rights to specific users for any type of application, including FlexApp layered apps. ProfileUnity controls application rights through context-aware filters that either elevate user privileges or enforce application restrictions.

Privilege elevation allows certain users to install or run applications that normally require administrative rights. With application restrictions, the context-aware filters can allow or deny access to apps that are generally available to the workforce. Admins can base these restrictions on specific users and groups or the devices and locations they log in from. For example, IT can restrict the type of applications installed on kiosks or call center computers. In this way, IT can control which applications it delivers to individual users and endpoints -- helping to enhance security, manage licensing costs and ease maintenance.

Using ProfileUnity FlexApp 

The other main component of Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity is the FlexApp application layering tool. Like application virtualization, FlexApp separates applications from the base image to streamline the delivery and maintenance of both apps and desktops. FlexApp differs from most app virtualization tools, though, in that it does not isolate applications from the OS or other applications. Instead, FlexApp hosts the app or group of layered apps in a container on a virtual disk accessible to the OS.

IT can use either a virtual hard disk or a VMware virtual machine disk file to host the application. From the perspective of the OS and other applications, the layered application appears to be installed locally, providing all the benefits of local applications without all the management overhead.

FlexApp is fully integrated into the ProfileUnity platform and can use its application rights policies and settings. However, companies can also use FlexApp as a standalone product, which might be useful for shops that already have another profile management system in place. In addition, IT can use FlexApp alongside app virtualization software that uses isolation, such as Microsoft App-V and VMware ThinApp.

For organizations looking for a complete UEM offering, ProfileUnity is useful for supporting mixed computing environments that include virtual and physical desktops, multiple versions of Windows or multiple virtualization products. Given the complexities of today’s corporate data centers, products such as ProfileUnity help bring order to virtual desktop and user environment management.

Next Steps

Learn the value of ProfileUnity user-installed apps

How to use FlexApp for application layering

An overview of Liquidware Labs Flex-IO storage optimization

This was last published in June 2016

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