Explore the leading user profile management tools in-depth
Profile management tools help admins keep tabs on users using cloud, migration and app virtualization. Discover the leading vendors with this in-depth overview of their products.
The right user profile management tools can come in many forms -- as stand-alone products, products built into other tools or as one part of a larger suite.
Read on to learn more about the top profile management platforms available today.
AppiXoft's profile management software Scense Workspace Management is not one of the better-known user profile management tools, but it provides a broad spectrum of user endpoint management capabilities.
The Scense suite includes profile management, workspace management, servicing and application delivery, as well as software metering and reporting. One of its standout features is its provisioning of services to non-domain devices.
The latest version of the software is Scense 10, which introduced the Service Point functionality as an application catalog feature. From a profile management perspective, it provides cross-platform capability from Windows XP onwards, as well as policy management and self-service or admin rollback features.
IT pros must configure the requirements of web services and databases themselves, and there is no cloud integration available yet. Its drawbacks are a lack of cloud integration and less community support.
AppiXoft sells Scense through the channel as a subscription or perpetual license with pricing dependent on the individual opportunity. Basic and extended support are available, and all product features come with a single version. A 90-day trial is available.
Citrix User Profile Management (UPM) is an extension of roaming profiles that eliminates some common issues and improves performance. It can provide better control over the content saved to the profile.
Citrix UPM is simple to install and configure, requiring an agent to install it on target endpoints, a file share to hold the profiles, and Group Policy Objects (GPOs) to deploy the configuration. Unlike traditional roaming profiles, UPM allows administrators to decide exactly what to include and exclude from the profile.
Performance-enhancing features, such as profile streaming and active write-back, are available and can address common profile issues, like last writer wins.
The latest version is 7.17, as the UPM version numbers now match the corresponding XenApp and XenDesktop releases. UPM performs profile management only, although Citrix does have another product called Workspace Environment Management (WEM) that provides policy rather than personalization, so IT can combine the two to produce a more comprehensive endpoint management tool.
To use Citrix UPM, the customer must have XenApp Enterprise or Platinum edition, or XenDesktop Advanced, Enterprise or Platinum edition. UPM usage is not limited to Citrix infrastructure. Provided the customer has access to Customer Success Services, users can deploy it on non-Citrix endpoints.
UPM adds small, incremental feature updates to its core functionality, which provides a solid, more granular approach to roaming profiles. Configured with aggressive folder redirection, UPM includes improvements to user logon times, in-session performance and profile reliability.
UPM has no functionality beyond profile management, so performing policy and performance management would require WEM -- which is available as a Platinum license only. It is easy to deploy and configure, requiring only a file share and GPOs. However, once you move beyond the out-of-the-box functionality, it can require some maintenance overhead.
Rollback functionality is limited, with a backup ntuser.dat providing some resilience within the registry settings, but dealing with the profile as a whole would necessitate a custom platform like Volume Shadow Copy or something similar.
For organizations already using Citrix with the required licenses, UPM is an excellent option with no extra cost. Community support is broad and expansive. Standard XenApp and XenDesktop 90-day trials are available. UPM is also integrated into the Citrix Cloud offering.
With extensive research into profile management software, TechTarget editors have focused this series of articles on vendors that offer profile management as a native platform. Our research included Gartner, Forrester and TechTarget surveys.
FSLogix's user profile management tools are available as part of the company's apps suite, Profile Containers. This product combines the entire user profile, both file system and registry, into a virtual hard disk (VHD) container in a centralized location. The platform is conceptually very similar to Microsoft's User Profile Disks feature, but it has some additional capabilities to manage multiple sessions and locked files.
The FSLogix version 2.8.12 suite has several other components, such as Application Masking, Java version control and Office 365 performance enhancements, all of which run using the same file system driver that the suite uses for profile management. The driver mounts the user's profile across the network, but then presents it as local to the OS, significantly reducing logon times, capturing the entire user profile without any exceptions and eliminating corruption issues while improving performance.
The standout advantages of Profile Containers are its simplicity and its ease of deployment. All that the tool needs is a file share -- once administrators deploy the software, the tool configures it using GPOs. Out of the box, it will capture the entire user profile and roam all of the required user settings from device to device without any further intervention, although it can configure exclusions and inclusions when required.
It also allows admins to mount and manage the user's profile centrally and without any of the associated SMB chatter that is normally present when using a redirected folder. The problems associated with copying down large files or sets of files are completely eliminated with this capability. Error handling features, such as differencing disks, which handle the problem of concurrent access, can also be used within multiple sessions.
Profile Containers only covers profile management, although FSLogix does have a partnership with PolicyPak in case a policy tool is required by users. There are no native rollback features, although administrators can achieve this using tools like Volume Shadow Copy or even by editing the unmounted VHD files on the fly.
The full FSLogix suite does provide some other features, such as Java version management and Application Masking. There is some community support available via the FSLogix forums.
Profile Containers is available as a single component or as part of the wider suite of FSLogix products. You can deploy it to any Windows OS device from Windows 7 on, and it is available to buy direct or from FSLogix channel partners. Licensing is available via subscription or perpetual and maintenance models, with pricing available on request. Evaluation versions are available from the FSLogix website.
Ivanti Software's User Workspace Management (UWM) product, formerly known as AppSense DesktopNow prior to the company's acquisition of LANDesk, is a secure, comprehensive and scalable suite of tools that helps deploy, migrate, manage, optimize and secure the user experience.
Its profile management functionality is available in three variations -- SQL, Server Message Block and VHD. The most popular of these is the SQL-based method, otherwise known as the Personalization Server method, which utilizes HTTPS and SQL and can provide a fully resilient infrastructure across large, disparate environments. Smooth roaming is possible across multiple OS versions from Windows 7 up.
The latest version of UWM is version 10.1, which includes updates for cloud support and Microsoft Office 365. The entire suite covers a wide array of capabilities, including profiles and policy, performance management, application execution control, licensing, monitoring, privilege escalation, and file sharing/synchronization.
The Ivanti suite offers extensive functionalities and is a full unified endpoint management suite rather than simply a profile management tool. Once IT configures the suite, it can provide substantial gains in performance, security and user experience, which can benefit any environment.
The suite integrates with most of the application virtualization vendors and has excellent native features in regard to profile rollback and restoration, as well as both user self-service and help desk. IT can provision cloud instances, and established community support is available.
Ivanti is one of the more expensive user profile management tools, and it can also be complicated to set up and configure. It may also require company resources to keep it running and optimized -- although Ivanti offers many support options, including a Technical Relationship Manager, for assistance. If IT uses Personalization Server for profile management functionality, they will be responsible for infrastructure overhead for web services and databases, and they must provision resiliency in these roles, as well.
Ivanti UWM costs $29.40 per named user, and it is suitable for small organizations -- 40 users -- as well as very large organizations -- more than 200,000 users. The various components are available for purchase separately. It is normally sold through the Ivanti channel partners, and evaluation copies with full functionality are available on request.
The latest version of Liquidware Lab Inc.'s software, ProfileUnity 6.7.6, is a broad set of tools that includes profile management, policy tools, application rights management and application layering. The profile management aspect is solid and well-established.
Industries of all sizes and verticals can use ProfileUnity, as it provides cross-platform capabilities to all Windows OSes from Windows 7 on. No additional infrastructure is required to deploy the profile management function. IT can roll back up to 99 previous versions of its profile settings as required.
Liquidware stands out in terms of cloud integration, working with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. It is also expensive and does not have as broad a community base as some of the other platforms available.
ProfileUnity is licensed from $39 per user, including the FlexApp layering component, although customers can purchase ProfileUnity without it. It is licensed either perpetually or via subscription for desktop-as-a-service deployments on per user, per device or per concurrent user basis. Customers can purchase ProfileUnity either through the Liquidware channel or through the Amazon marketplace. An extendible 15-day trial version is also available.
Microsoft's User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) product is now part of Windows 10 following the 1607 release. Prior to that, it was available as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), but it now exists as a feature in the OS that you can activate as necessary. It can also be used on clients running Windows 7 and up provided you have the MDOP entitlement.
UE-V is a lightweight, agent-controlled product that simply writes application and OS settings back to a file share as XML files. It synchronizes the XML files any time an application launches or closes or a user logs on or logs off. It requires a storage location -- such as a file share, OneDrive or Azure -- and an agent to install or activate it on all the target machines.
The latest version of UE-V, 2.1 SP1, was released in 2016. It automatically synchronizes a specific amount of OS and application settings, whereas users must create and deploy other application settings as necessary.
The advantages of UE-V are its low cost -- assuming you are running Windows 10 1607+, otherwise it requires MDOP -- low infrastructure requirements and speed of setup, requiring only activation, a storage area and GPOs to get it running. Templates for applications are available online to aid custom application setups.
UE-V may require considerable configuration if there are many applications that need to be synchronized. Some OS settings are difficult to configure. There is not a great deal of community support for setup and maintenance, and Microsoft has a questionable commitment to this product given the few changes to the software. Restoring and rolling back profiles is not native, so you must provision it separately. There are no other features included in UE-V besides the base profile management.
UE-V is part of the MDOP license, which customers can acquire with Microsoft Software Assurance, and it is also baked into the current version of Windows 10.
Tricerat Inc.'s Simplify Profiles is one of the lesser used profile management tools, and it enables administrators to provide personalized environments to users independent of their Windows profile.
Simplify Profiles aims to provide linear profile management. The product uses a SQL database rather than a file server for the storage of the profile, and with the changing delta information stored there, it can avoid many common profile issues, such as slow logons or profile corruption.
Version 6 is fully compatible with the latest Windows releases and can provide a uniform customer experience. It is simple to set up, requiring a database instance and agent installation onto the managed endpoint devices.
Tricerat's product provides profile management functionality -- with no other features -- across multiple Windows OS versions. It only requires a SQL database instance to function, and users can deploy it on the cloud. It offers a straightforward, easy-to-deploy profile management platform that eliminates the common problems with user profiles, and it improves key performance indicators, such as logon time.
There is no policy aspect included in the Tricerat user profile management software, nor is it clear how it can interact with virtualized applications. There are no open community forums, as the vendor itself provides support. In addition, only SQL backups can provide rollback facilities.
Tricerat licenses Simplify Profiles on a per server or per user basis as perpetual or subscription licenses with support available at 20% of the license costs. Primarily aimed at medium to large businesses, customers can purchase Simplify Profiles directly or through partners. A 30-day evaluation version is also available.
VMware's User Environment Manager (UEM) offers personalization and dynamic policy configuration across any virtual, physical or cloud-based Windows desktop deployment.
VMware's user profile management tools concentrate on scalability, requiring only Windows file shares to operate, as well as stability, allowing roaming across different Windows OSes and sessions using a single profile. The agent provides not just personalization, but also policy. It can work with OS settings from Windows 7 up and has other features available, such as privilege escalation and application blocking.
The current version, 9.2, is available as a stand-alone product or as part of Workspace One, Horizon 7 and VMware App Volumes. IT can deploy it on any target Windows device, and it is suitable for organizations of any size, from very small to very large.
VMware UEM is a solid midrange user profile management tool that is quick and easy to set up, and it also offers functionality and features beyond simple profile management that can further enhance the management and performance of a user environment.
The lack of infrastructure requirements makes it scalable and simple to set up. It features Application Profiler, which makes it easier to onboard new user applications. There are also self-service and help desk tools available for instant rollback of profiles or application settings. Community support is also solid, and integration with application virtualization vendors -- like App-V, ThinApp, App Volumes and Symantec -- is reasonable.
UEM requires ongoing and resource-intensive maintenance. Its reliance on a file share means that resilience must already be built into the file serving infrastructure.
Pricing, sales and support details are dependent on the purchase type and can be obtained through standard VMware product channels.