As you may have seen, late last year Microsoft acquired a company called FSLogix. After a long wait Microsoft have finally publicly announced the new licensing model and it is good news – It’s free! (or more accurately now included in the following Microsoft licenses):
- Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL
- Microsoft 365 E3/A3
- Microsoft 365 E5/A5
- Microsoft F1, Business
- Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
- Windows 10 Education A3/A5
- Windows 10 VDA per user
Coffee Cup Solutions have always promoted the FSLogix suite as a key enabler within our services, working closely with FSLogix gaining extensive experience designing and deploying their technology for — our customers.
Selecting FSLogix was a logical decision as it addresses many of the key issues you will come across in a virtual desktop environment:
I have worked designing, deploying and maintaining virtual application and desktop solutions for over 15 years and I firmly believe this is one of the most exciting announcements for virtual desktop users in this time. The fact Microsoft acquired FSLogix with the intention of it being a key component in their own Windows Virtual Desktop offering re-enforces this point.
Slow logons and Profile Management
The first thing a user will should do in the working day is logon… A slow logon is not only a daily irritation but also a waste of a user’s valuable time, causing a loss in productivity for any organisation.
Slow logons could be caused by several factors but generally loading of the user profile can play a major role.
In the past people have attempted to work around profile bloat using folder redirection. This can speed up logon times but at the expense of poor in-session performance as it essentially moves the strain onto the file servers hosting your redirected data. Another option is to exclude specific data from being saved to the central user profile which can help but this is something that will need to be continually managed and, in some cases, excluding data is just not possible.
The FSLogix Profile Container can massively decrease logon times and improve in session performance by encapsulating the entire profile, including registry, in a profile container that is instantly attached at logon.
Cloud cache also can simplify DR scenarios where profile data needs to be synchronised across sites, changing the way you provision profile storage in cloud deployment with its support for Azure Page Blobs and even synchronising your virtual desktop profile on your laptop or desktop for use on or offline!
Office 365 integration
Office 365 is great, but it does come with some challenges, especially in a virtual desktop environment.
Traditionally Microsoft have not supported Outlook in cached mode for virtual desktop solutions because it will bloat the user profile which leads to very slow logon times. Historically this has always meant disabling cached mode and running in Online mode, where Outlook must connect to the Exchange backend for all its data – This causes 2 issues when your Exchange servers are no longer locally hosted…
- Poor user experience – with your mailbox no longer hosted on the same network or physically located near to your users, delays in retrieving data from O365 services can hinder day to day activities such as retrieving mail, querying the Global Address List and loading calendars.
- Increased bandwidth usage – Each users Outlook instance will now be constantly communicating with O365, leading to an increase in WAN traffic – In instances where bandwidth is limited or congested this will again lead to performance problems and ultimately, unhappy users.
With FSLogix O365 Containers we can deliver Outlook in cached mode in a non-persistent virtual desktop. We can even enable the search functionality previously also unsupported without a massive resource overhead and performance hit. Less resource usage = Higher user density = reduction in overall cost to desktop delivery.
Outlook isn’t the our only potential challenge the Synced OneDrive data has to go somewhere. In the User Profile? Only if you want a considerably long logon. Folder redirection? As discussed before this is not the answer.
We can now redirect all these O365 caches and synced data to an FSLogix O365 container, attached at logon. Fast, simple and without the overhead to your file storage that you see with folder redirection.
Application License Enforcement
FSLogix App Masking is often overshadowed by the success of the Profile and O365 container products but it shouldn’t be – It can simplify application provisioning and software licensing compliance, reduce the number of gold images you need to build and maintain, and importantly – save you a lot of money!
With App Masking you can install all the applications that your users may need into a single image and filter the areas of the operating system that the user can access by policy.
By using filter policies in a way that is compliant with Microsoft’s licensing requirements we can restrict access to applications such as Microsoft Office, Visio and Project to only allow users who are licensed to run them. This is of course without the cost of additional software whilst delivered from a single server and gold image, ultimately increasing user density and reducing costs.
Application containers also allow you to isolate applications from the operating system allowing you to test and provision applications to your virtual desktop without making a change to the desktop or server without the hassle of application packaging.
Multiple Java Versions
It’s 2019 and we still seem to need Java. It’s quite likely you may need to use multiple version of Java for different applications which can present several issues
- Which version of Java to provision to your users
- Installing multiple versions of java on the same system/within the same image
- Running older versions of Java can leave you open to vulnerability
The FSLogix Java Redirection Module allows all applications and websites to run with the version of Java they require to operate properly using application/applet specific polices– all from the same Windows desktop.
This can reduce the risk of legacy applications that require legacy java versions as the vulnerable version of java will only be utilised when using specific applications.
It is important to mention that this is not just for virtual desktops, the FSLogix suite can be utilised on any Windows device.
We see this as a key event for all virtual desktop users whether you are using Microsoft RDS, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop, VMWare Horizon, AWS Workspaces or the upcoming Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (expect a blog with the latest news on WVD soon…)
If you’d like to learn more about how FSLogix can benefit your business drop us an email [email protected] – we’d love the opportunity to come and talk to you!