The Golden Image or template in VDI/DaaS is the starting point for what your users will see and use each time they log into your VDI or DaaS deployment. An easy way to think of the golden image in VDI/DaaS is as a handout you want to give to a group of people to whom you’re going to speak.
How a Golden Image is Like a Handout
This is your big speech, and you want to give the audience a fact sheet, a takeaway, something to refer back to after your presentation. So you work hard at formatting the font, the style, the bullet points, content and how it’s all arranged on the page. You pore over the handout time and time again, and you solicit feedback from people you respect (or at least respect their view point).
Once you feel confident the handout says and does exactly what you want it to, you take the next major step: you copy it over and over and over again and then hand it out to 100 people.
The response to your handout is analogous to the first time someone logs into a Virtual Desktop. Some will think it’s formatted wrong because the information is presented in a different format or in a different location than they’re used to. Others will praise you for all your hard work and how awesome it is. Some will try to make paper planes from it.
Considerations for Your Golden Image
There are multiple things to think about when developing your golden image: Security, Performance, Applications, Use cases, and more. Two of the items that are often overlooked are simplicity and manageability.
In the old days of VDI (more than five years ago), you had to put every application that every user might ever use into the Golden Image. As VDI and DaaS have evolved, we have gained the ability to separate the applications from the Operating System and no longer need to load every application into the Golden Image.
These additional applications can now be delivered in layers built on top of the Golden Image rather than being part of it. In the end, it will look to the end user like a single desktop deployed with the applications. We’ll get more into that application streaming, App Stores and App Volumes in another post, but it’s important to note for the sake of this topic.
When developing your Golden Image you should think about (1) the bare minimum and (2) everyone who will use it. Confusing? It’s really not that difficult once you back away from the trees a bit to see the forest. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What is it that every user (or the vast majority of users) needs?
- What Operating System will you use?
- What hardening needs to be done?
- What Security Settings are appropriate?
- What capabilities?
Note that the key item missing so far is applications. At least “working” applications.
When building a Golden Image you need to think about shrinking it such that it only has what has to have. When we do this we simplify its manageability: one place to do updates for all Virtual Desktops, one place to trouble shoot, one place to secure, and one place to enforce policy on the desktop. Simplifying your golden image will help you take advantage of VDI and see more of the benefits of VDI or DaaS.
What will happen is you skip this step? Most likely you’ll end up experiencing firsthand some of the horror stories that have afflicted other VDI deployments. We’ve seen hundreds of failed VDI deployments resulting from teams that didn’t focus on the “simple”, and they’re not pretty. Patch Storms, scan storms, update storms, the inability to manage, the need to dedicate even more time managing VDI then on traditional desktops.
Many of these disasters can be avoided by focusing on a simple, highly distributable Golden Image. If you’d like to discuss more – just give us a ring or drop us an email.