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Image Management with Amazon WorkSpaces!

When moving away from traditional desktops to a virtualized desktop or more specifically, Amazon WorkSpaces, adopting a new way to manage the life-cycle of the operating system can be challenging. Many enterprises had decades to hone their desktop delivery, from hardware, to the Windows Operating System (OS), required third party agents and lastly, applications.

At API, we guide customers through the Amazon WorkSpaces evolution. We provide best practices to create what we call, WorkSpaces Life Cycle Management (WSLCM). With WSLCM, we provide an image management framework and transformation path.

BUILD

We recommend creating an imaging environment within a separate directory other than where your production WorkSpaces reside. It is very crucial to keep the image as clean as possible and avoid tattooing group policy objects into the Windows Registry. We then deploy the image with the bundle of your choice and perform the imaging preparation tasks. At this stage we update and patch, clear caches and remove any unnecessary features that may usurp system resources. The image is now ready for end-user deployment.

DEPLOY & MANAGE

Once the images are deployed to users, the management process is simple: Master Image -> Customer Bundle (Hardware type and Image) -> Deploy.

When updates are performed, we re-deploy the Master Image -> Install Updates (OS and/or Applications) –> Create a new Image. At that point, a Rebuild process is involved. Rebuild, in the Windows WorkSpace ecosystem, allows you to swap out the underlying bundle. Within and Amazon WorkSpaces there are two drives, C: (OS+ Applications) and D: (User Data and Settings – the Profile). When the bundle is redeployed, user data and settings are retained via the D drive. However, any applications that were installed via an Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) tool, or user installed applications (UIA) must be reinstalled.

EVOLVE

When moving to Amazon WorkSpaces, keeping image sprawl to a minimum is key. However, this is a process of evolution. . We often start with a baked image. A baked image consists of all the software manually installed and managed. While it’s a great start, it is not ideal. Over time images become bloated and application delivery is not as seamless as possible. We instruct our customers to start slow, continue with the same methodologies used in traditional desktop deployments and plan for the future. Our evolution starts with thinning out the image and changing the way we look at application delivery. While ESD products like SCCM are perfectly fine to use with Amazon WorkSpaces, we prefer application layering products such as Liquidware’s FlexApp. With FlexApp we can decouple the applications from the OS and deliver them on demand. Additionally, we thin out the image as much as possible. The end goal is a thin image (OS, Agents, and as few applications as possible) and all other applications delivered via FlexApp.

This may seam daunting, it’s not, API provides a full suite of automation tools to make every step of the transformation as seamless as possible requiring very little manual intervention.

For additional information, I recommend checking out our post on managing Amazon WorkSpaces Windows Profiles, you can find the post here.

Look for additional blogs on Amazon WorkSpaces image management and how API can get you on the path to a Modern Desktop!

For more information on Amazon WorkSpaces or API’s suite of End-User Computing (EUC) services, please email sales@apisystemsinc.com

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