What’s an Ephemeral OS Disk? Why you should use it with Microsoft WVD…

To keep desktops performing their best and with the lowest cost, Microsoft WVD desktops are best managed with a non-persistent (stateless) design. With the GA of WVD, Microsoft has introduced an ephemeral OS disk as an option to deploy VMs on Azure. A VM on an ephemeral disk enables the VM is designed to last for only a short time so it can be refreshed to its original state. This is a little different than non-persistent workspaces from Citrix Desktop (formerly XenDesktop), and VMware as an ephemeral desktop only gets when the administrator opts for it to be reset. In contrast, a Citrix or VMware desktop usually gets destroyed at logoff.

Microsoft WVD can run either an OS like Windows 10 multi-session or a desktop OS such as Windows 7 or 10. Most people seem to be exploring the Windows 10 multi-session option. As this is true multi-session computing, many users may be logged into the Windows 10 multi-session host at any given time. Therefore, you must ensure any host you reset is not in use, lest you interrupt users’ sessions while in production. For this reason, the Windows 10 multi-session host cannot be truly non-persistent and destroyed at logoff. To keep the host clean it can only be reset from time-to-time or ephemeral, lasting for a period of time. Therefore, to invoke best practices, treating Windows 10 multi-session hosts as ephemeral desktops is a vital way to make keep these Windows host machines clean.

An ephemeral OS disk essentially lets you roll back a machine to a known good state. If you do not leverage ephemeral disks for WVD, you must recreate the host for rollbacks, which may be done with other technologies such as image management tools.

There are many benefits touted for the new ephemeral disk usage. However, describing the difference of non-persistent disks and ephemeral disks is mainly splitting hairs because for most intents and purposes because Microsoft WVD should be managed as if it is a non-persistent desktop. What is common to both is that non-persistent or ephemeral desktops are deleted (virtually destroyed) at logoff or at a determined interval. They are recreated (provisioned) from a base image. The newly created desktop is then kept fresh and runs at top performance and does not suffer from the degradation a traditionally managed OS suffers from overtime.

Since WVD machines are managed in this ephemeral way, Microsoft’s FSLogix technology becomes essential to the user experience. FSLogix allows the user to pick up right where they left off when a new WVD VM is recreated because the profile, in its entirety, rejoins the user from a virtual disk on Azure at the next login. To extend and complement this ephemeral desktop design even further, Liquidware is a key Value Added Partner in the WVD ecosystem and delivers the following additional benefits:

  • FlexApp dynamically attaches applications to VMs at every login, enabling applications to be rejoined to WVD VMs without continually manipulating the base image. This dramatically simplifies app management with dynamically attached apps and;
  • Reduces image management overhead by eliminating native application installs
  • Enables you to leverage one base image and assign FlexApp application attachments on a per-user or per-group basis
  • Enables applications to remain persistent in non-persistent (ephemeral) desktops
  • Integrates seamlessly with existing app lifecycle management workflows

ProfileUnity speeds adoption of WVD with seamless zero-downtime user migrations to FSLogix profiles from any legacy Windows workspace platform and;

  • Peforms smart user profile and data harvesting for efficient, repeatable zero user downtime migrations to WVD
  • Automatically hydrates FSLogix profile containers with select user profile data and access to user-authored data
  • Enables backup / fast restoration of FSLogix profiles, complementing FSLogix Cloud Cache
  • Delivers full User Environment Management features such as context-aware advanced policy management, application rights management and more

Discover how Liquidware’s entire Adaptive Workspace Management suite enables easy adoption and management of WVD by visiting this resource page.