The Evolution of Citrix Profile Management

Citrix Profile Management is quietly kicking goals and developing quickly. This post aims to track the changes and releases as they occur, and provide a single point of reference. It is a companion post to my initial Citrix UPM and FSLogix Conainers post, which outlined some decision points around profile management tool selection.

This list will start at CVAD 1912 LTSR, anything prior to that, refer to the appropriate documentation

I will do my best to maintain this list as and when features come out, as well as some commentary around their value where I can.

- - - - - Version 2209

Feature: File deduplication policies to reduce storage cost for the user store

Detail: Identical files can exist among various user profiles in the user store. With the new policies enabled, Profile Management removes duplicate files from the user store and stores one copy of them in a central location. Doing so avoids file duplications in the user store, thus saving your storage cost

Feature: Ability to replicate the profile container for profile redundancy

Detail: With the profile container enabled for the full user profile, you can now replicate the container to multiple paths using the Replicate user stores policy. Doing so provides profile redundancy for user logons. This is a similar concept to FSLogix Cloud Cache

Feature: OneDrive container policy generally available

Detail: Previously available as a preview, the Enable OneDrive container policy is now generally available.

- - - - - Version 2206

This is a significant release as it relates to the evolution of Citrix Profile Management Containers vs FSLogix capability. There are a couple of very key features to note below:

  • OneDrive support (preview)
  • Async policy processing control
  • concurrent session support for Outlook search data roaming

Combine this capability with the wealth of other options and controls including combining the best of file and container capability, UPM should now start becoming a much more attractive solution for all use cases. The best thing is that the solution is actively and aggressively developed. “Ask and you shall receive” so to speak…

Feature: Enhancement to profile streaming in concurrent session scenarios

Detail: A new policy, Enable profile streaming for pending area, is now available as an enhancement to the profile streaming feature. This enhancement ensures optimal logon experience in concurrent session scenarios

Feature: Concurrent session support for Outlook search data roaming

Detail: A new policy, Enable Concurrent session support for Outlook search data roaming, is now available as an enhancement to the Search index roaming for Outlook policy. With the two policies enabled, Citrix Profile Management can provide a native Outlook search experience in concurrent sessions

Important Note: To let the search index roaming feature work on Microsoft Windows 10 1809 and later, and on Windows Server 2019 and later, add a DWORD value EnablePerUserCatalog = 0 under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search. Restart the VDA to make your registry setting take effect. This indicates that whilst Microsoft have now removed per user search index roaming from FSLogix in favor of OS level capability, Citrix can, and does, still support roaming this index using the traditional mode

Feature: Enable asynchronous processing for user Group Policy on logon

Detail: In the fallout of this little discovery around Synchronous Processing we spoke with the Citrix Profile Management team. Ask the right people, get a good answer

Windows provides both synchronous and asynchronous processing modes for user Group Policy. Windows uses a registry value to determine the processing mode for the next user logon. If the registry value doesn’t exist, synchronous mode is applied.

With a new policy, Enable asynchronous processing for user Group Policy on logon, the registry value can now roam with users. As a result, the actual processing mode is applied each time users log on

Feature: Support for roaming OneDrive folders (preview)

Detail: The last major gap between FSLogix and UPM Container capability. OneDrive support.

With a new policy, Enable OneDrive container, OneDrive folders can now roam with users. A user’s OneDrive folders are stored in a VHDX file (called OneDrive container). The VHDX file is attached on user logon and detached on user logoff.

Starting with this release, the profile container for the entire profile now supports roaming OneDrive folders by default

- - - - - Version 2203

Feature: Policy to automatically reattach VHDX disks in sessions

Detail: Previously, to have Profile Management automatically reattach VHDX disks in sessions, you had to configure the registry manually. You can now enable the feature by using a policy. With the Automatically reattach VHDX disks in sessions feature, Profile Management ensures a high level of stability of VHDX-based policies.

Profile Management monitors VHDX disks that are in use. If any of the disks are detached, Profile Management reattaches the disk automatically. This is a container resiliency solution.

- - - - - Version 2112

Feature: Support for file-level inclusion and exclusion for the profile container

Detail: Previously, only inclusions and exclusions could be configured for the profile container only at the folder level. This can now be configured at the file level. This enhancement gives provides more granular control over profile synchronization

Feature: Support for specifying the storage path for VHDX files

Detail: By default, VHDX files are stored in the user store. It is now possible to specify a separate path to store them. Citrix Profile Management provides the following VHDX-based policies:

Feature: Support for using wildcards in folder names when configuring inclusion and exclusion

Detail: When configuring inclusion and exclusion for the user store and for the profile container, wildcards can now be specified in folder names.

- - - - - Version 2109

Feature: Windows 11 support

Detail: The Citrix components, features, and technologies in this release that support Windows 10 now also support Windows 11, unless otherwise noted

Feature: Automatically reattach detached VHDX disks in sessions

Detail: Citrix Profile Management offers the following VHDX-based policies: Search index roaming for Outlook, Profile container, and Accelerate folder mirroring. Each policy relies on relevant VHDX virtual disks to function properly. Profile Management attaches those disks during logons and detaches them during logoffs. However, the disks might be accidentally detached during a session preventing the policies from functioning properly. Profile Management can now detect when a VHDX virtual disk is detached in a session and then reattach it automatically. This design ensures the stability of VHDX-based solutions

Feature: Profile roaming support for non-domain-joined VDA machines in a customer-managed Azure subscription (preview)

Detail: Citrix Profile Management now supports user profile roaming on non-domain-joined VDA machines in a customer-managed Azure subscription. A users profile (including the users personal settings, files, and folders) can now roam with the user when the user logs on to a non-domain-joined VDA session.

- - - - - Version 2106

Feature: Windows Server 2022 support

Detail: The Citrix components and technologies in this release that support Windows Server platforms now also support Windows Server 2022, unless otherwise noted.

Feature: Replicate user stores

Detail: A new feature to allow replication of a user store to multiple paths upon each logon and logoff in addition to the path that the Path to user store policy specifies. The feature is implemented through the Replicate user stores policy. To synchronize to the user stores files and folders modified during a session, enable active write back. This feature does not currently support full container solutions. Enabling the policy can increase system I/O and might prolong logoffs.

This is extremely beneficial for multi datacenter deployments and active-active deployments (similar to a cloud cache methodology). In a normal scenario, if both file stores are healthy, UPM will do a differential sync to both locations. Should a file store be out of date, UPM will perform a full sync to bring the data back into line.

Feature: Enable credential-based access to user stores

Detail: By default, Citrix Profile Management impersonates the current user to access user stores. Therefore, it requires the current user to have permission to directly access the user stores. Enable this feature if you do not want Profile Management to impersonate the current user when accessing user stores. You can put user stores in storage repositories (for example, Azure Files) that the current user has no permission to access.

To ensure that Profile Management can access user stores, save the profile storage server’s credentials in Workspace Environment Management (WEM) or Windows Credential Manager. Citrix recommend that you use Workspace Environment Management to eliminate the need of configuring the same credentials for each machine where Profile Management runs. If you use Windows Credential Manager, use the Local System account to securely save the credentials.

Feature: Accelerate folder mirroring

Detail: With both the Accelerate folder mirroring and the Folders to mirror policies enabled, Profile Management stores mirrored folders on a VHDX-based virtual disk. It attaches the virtual disk during logons and detaches it during logoffs, thus eliminating the need to copy the folders between the user store and local profiles. Effectively a selective Containerization of data.

- - - - - Version 2103

Feature: Local caching for Citrix Profile Management profile containers

Detail: Local caching support for Citrix Profile Management profile containers through the Enable local caching for profile containers policy. With the policy set to Enabled, each local profile serves as a local cache of its Citrix Profile Management profile container. If profile streaming is in use, locally cached files are created on demand. Otherwise, they are created during user logons. To use the local caching feature, put an entire user profile in its Citrix Profile Management profile container.

This feature is designed to cater for loss of network connectivity to the container store.

Feature: Multi-session write-back support for Citrix Profile Management profile containers

Detail: Previously, changes in sessions were written back only to FSLogix Profile Container with the relevant policy enabled. Starting with this release, Citrix renamed the Enable multi-session write-back for FSLogix Profile Container policy to Enable multi-session write-back for profile containers to accommodate multi-session write-back support for Citrix Profile Management profile containers.

Not even FSLogix can do this natively – two sessions writing back to the same profile at the same time…

Feature: Profile streaming for folders

Detail: With the Enable profile streaming for folders policy set to Enabled, folders are fetched only when they are being accessed. This approach eliminates the need to traverse all folders during user logons. To use this feature, you must also enable the Profile streaming policy.

Feature: Improved experience with the Start menu

Detail: We have improved the experience with the Start menu on Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 through automatic configuration of the relevant policies as follows:

  • Citrix added Appdata\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Caches to Folders to Mirror
  • Citrix are ensuring that Appdata\Local\Packages is added to Exclusion list – directories
  • Citrix are ensuring that Appdata\Local\Microsoft\Windows\UsrClass.Dat* is added to Exclusion list – files

To disable automatic configuration, use the Disable automatic configuration policy

- - - - - Version 2009

Feature: Profile container enhancements

Detail: Starting with this release, multiple concurrent sessions can access a profile container and you can put an entire user profile in its profile container. In addition, Profile Management now accesses the VHDX files in a user context and does not grant Domain Computers full control of the folder where the VHDX files are stored

- - - - - Version 2003

Feature: Enable multi-session write-back for FSLogix Profile Container

Detail: Profile Management now provides a solution to save changes in multi-session scenarios for FSLogix Profile Container. If the same user launches multiple sessions on different machines, changes made in each session are synchronized and saved to FSLogix Profile Container.