Here's a simple question for Monday: in today's world (and moving forward), has the persistent Windows VM become the new user profile?
In the "old" days, the value of roaming profiles was that they packaged up all of the important bits and allowed us to run "our" environments on whatever Windows instance we happened to be connecting from. In today's world, it seems like we can do that with an entire VM, right? Like we don't need "just" the profile, rather we can just get "our" persistent VM on a client, in our datacenter, or from a DaaS provider.
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Today's storage solutions are making this even more possible, with techniques like single-instance block-level storage, disk image streaming, and NFS booting that allow our persistent images to be booted from any device that has a decent connection to the storage location.
We're even seeing this extend to loosely-connected and non-connected client devices. Client hypervisor technology makes it easy to run a VM anyway, and smart data synchronization and caching (like VMware Horizon Mirage and the myriad of file-level enterprise sync products) mean that we can package up what appears to be a single VM per user which can be made accessible to them no matter where we are.
Even if this isn't 100% possible today, storage, computing, and networking technologies are advancing faster than client disk images are growing. We regularly download multi-gigabyte files without thinking twice about it, and many consumers are using cloud-based backup solutions to store hundreds of gigabytes of data in the cloud. (And now you can get 50GB of storage for under $5 per month from companies like Amazon and Google.)
Of course this doesn't address the broader conversation of the future of the desktop and how we deal with balancing Windows, SaaS, and HTML applications. But as a general concept, I'm starting to see roaming profiles as a thing of the past. Screw it! Just give each user their own persistent VM and use the myriad of other technologies to ensure that that VM is available to them in the way that they want to connect.