Here’s a topic that I haven’t thought about in a few years: What do you do for desktop search (or “Windows Search,” as it’s now called) in VDI and RDSH environments?
Windows Search is a big part of the total desktop experience in today’s world, allowing unified full-text search across Outlook contents and files on the desktop. Many (or most?) end users rely on Windows Search as a core part of their workflow. (Do you? For me desktop search is how I do everything.)
We’ve always argued that in order for full remote published desktops (whether they’re VDI or RDSH) to be successful, you have to replace the users’ traditional desktops. (Otherwise you’re just supporting two desktops per user.) And in order to replace an existing desktop, the new desktop has to be able to do “everything” the old one did.
We tend to focus on all the big things like whether applications work or what the performance is like, but we often forget that when it comes to complete desktop replacement, it’s often the little things that come back to bite us. (How many of us have been chewed out by users because we took away their ability to change their desktop wallpaper?)
Windows Search / desktop search is one of those little things. Both Citrix and VMware recommend disabling it for VDI environments, though I can’t possibly see how users are okay with this? I initially started researching alternatives to Windows Search before taking a step back and looking at the performance impact of Windows Search itself. It turns out that it’s not so much that the constantly-running indexer is a problem, rather, it’s more that the Windows Search index is stored locally on a machine, so non-persistent desktops (VDI or RDSH) have to do a full rebuild every time a new VM is built for a user. For persistent desktops, the performance impact of the indexer running isn’t much, so it seems ok to leave Windows Search enabled.
So really we're just talking about non-persistent environments, which is good, but still not ideal.
So what are the options? Do you move the index to a persistent location? Do you go with a third-party desktop search product? (Both X1 Search 8 Virtual Edition and Axonic Lookeen 10 specifically market their Windows Search replacement products as being VDI and RDSH safe.)
Or maybe it is possible to just disable Windows Search altogether? All the user’s files should be on network shares, right? And the Exchange server can handle the mail search? Then again, with the push towards Dropbox-like enterprise file sync & share, maybe we need to figure out Windows Search again? (Or maybe we just use our file sync vendor’s search solution?)
So, in 2015 with Windows 7 in VDI environments, and with Server 2012 R2 RDSH, what do you do about full indexed desktop searching? How do you handle both persistent and non-persistent environments? Please share...