If you’re new to Amazon WorkSpaces, one of the first questions you probably have is, “How are User Profiles handled?” IT Administrators coming from Citrix XenApp, non-persistent VDI and the old Terminal Server-era experience know all too well the complexity in maintaining User Profiles.
How does Amazon do it? When a WorkSpace is provisioned, a separate volume (D: ) is created for the user. All profile data is committed to these separate volume (D:\Users\%username%), and due to the fact that the volume is a virtual disk that remains attached to the user’s WorkSpace there is no overhead on the logon process. This also makes WorkSpaces persistent to the user; a 1-to-1 relationship. There is no roaming profiles between WorkSpaces.
Amazon protects the user volume by snapshotting it every 12 hours. This snapshot is independent of the OS volume (C: ) and when a WorkSpace is rebuilt, a new user volume is created from the latest snapshot. Depending on when a WorkSpace is rebuilt in that 12 hour window, there is the potential for data loss.
If this seems overly simplistic compared to the very complex and tedious roaming profile solution Microsoft introduced with Terminal Server, that is because it is. We believe this solution is adequate for most use cases. There are specific use cases where we have seen Profile Management is required.
Do I still need a Profile Management solution?
Due to the fact that Amazon WorkSpaces included a Profile Management solution out-of-the-box, it can be tempting to think you have all the bases covered. While that may be true for some organizations, there are at least three use cases where we have found having a third-party Profile Management solution to be incredibly useful.
Migration from existing VDI environment to Amazon WorkSpaces – Users typically do not like change, even if their existing desktop is performing poorly. Leveraging a third-party Profile Management solution to migrate their profile and user environment to WorkSpaces immediately removes that initial dread users have of losing their personal desktop.
Users with multiple Amazon WorkSpaces – There are some instances where organizations need to provision multiple WorkSpaces to individual users. Keeping those WorkSpaces in synchronization allows users to seamlessly move from WorkSpace to WorkSpace. Users shouldn’t have to work around the technology by e-mailing themselves files just to get work done.
Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Planning – Few cloud providers have built quite the redundancy that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has. Even with all the safeguards in place, delivering a DR plan that includes Desktops is a best practice. For example, replicating User Profile data to a second AWS Region to rebuild WorkSpaces in the event that the Production Region becomes inaccessible to your organization.
Need more information about Amazon WorkSpaces or DaaS in general, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we can answer all of your questions and get you started with a PoC.