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Citrix Personal vDisk Image Inventory, a potential solution to the golden image nightmare?

While at Citrix Synergy in Barcelona this week, I attended the Citrix Personal vDisk deep dive session. The session was interesting and informative but there was a mention of the inventory and scanning piece of the personal vDisk suite that really got me asking myself “what if?”.

From my understanding of the presentation, when you add a revision to the golden image, Personal vDisk scan’s both images then compares these items to the personal vDisk in an attempt to figure out which bits belong in the vDisk and which bits belong in the base image.

If you’ve read my previous blog post on golden image management with PVS (questionable assumptions and why I don’t trust people), you know I have a great fear with auditing and control of this image. Without having to read the old article, it basically translated to “Provisioning server is great, but I don’t trust people to audit and document the changes they have made to the golden images”.

While sitting in this session, I had another “lightbulb moment” . If the Personal vDisk has baked in technology that audits the changes to the golden image layer and registry, could it be extracted from personal vDisk? If so, wouldn’t this give you a granular view of changes to the golden image from point to point? I.E. a list of changes between snapshots (MCS) or versions (PVS)?

The more I think of it, the better this idea sounds. Imagine having a catalog of changes, searchable for file or registry key names that would help you track back changes, or even view changes made to the golden image to be reviewed before or after you seal the image? This technology would work well with Citrix Provisioning server, XenClient and Machine Creation Services, delivering a matrix of changes to the golden image.

I can’t see wrapping a gui around this auditing as being a challenge, this is Citrix we’re talking about! and as Citrix has mostly adopted Microsofts vhd file type, it would be a single image type to scan.

For me, this would address my concerns with moving most implementations from automated installs, to snapshot mechanisms while still achieving auditing and a deep view of the changes to the file system.

So Citrix, please consider this approach, it would be an immediate value add and put your image management head and shoulders above your competition.

So what do you the readers think? Would this give you more confidence of changes by others? Do you see this technology and a post change report as an extra safe guard on change management?

  1. October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Sounds like a perfect project for AndyMorgan software enterprises limited 🙂

  2. October 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Personal VDisk is a cool idea, but it is a big blob of binary data. Unless something has changed recently, you cant view, edit o rmanage what is inside of the blob. So you will end up having to delete the whole blob when issues occur, i.e. old school profile cleanup

  3. October 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Good version management is a hard one to sell when it has to be done manually (coming from a programming background myself I still remember long hours debating the benefits of tools like SourceSafe). I did have hope that all the snapshot technology would offer us an automated way to track those chances and have a SQL transaction log solution to get a clear view on the differences …. without having to settle for that difference disks spawning of data changes and restore points.

    So in addition to offering us the technology to differentiate between personal (user) data and shared data (golden image), throw in even more added value by supporting version management and impact analyzing tooling that give you a quick overview on the impact of changes to the golden image to ensure they don’t interfere with the personal installments and changes on the vDisk.

    Citrix can you build a vDiskDNA tool?

  4. Dan Brinkmann
    October 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Do you even have to read the .vhd file? Is that data put into one of the inventory files?

    • October 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Hey Dan,

      No not with PvDisk, but I meant as a collective approach to getting a catalogue for all Citrix delivery methods.

  5. Dan Brinkmann
    October 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Do you even need to read the .vhd file? isn’t the data probably extracted into one of the inventory files?

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