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Desktop images/virtualization

Hello,

I have 40 computers throughout the US that are used for a single purpose (computers are identical).  The only thing different about them is Windows username and perhaps some scripts we run in each one.   We want to be able to manage these computers remotely, run updates,  and easily spin up a new computer from "virtual image".  Not sure what tool can effectively accomplish this but we were looking into XenDesktop.  Any information would be helpful.

Thanks
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Pedro Guerrero
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Pedro Guerrero
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Do you want to manage ALL these centrally as virtual machines e.g. HOSTED ON A GROUP of SERVERS CENTRALLY, or use the existing 40 desktop computers, managing all 40 desktop computers, is easily managed by Active Directory Group Policies, and Windows Updates can be provided centrally from a WSUS server.
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Pedro GuerreroSystems AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Wan to manage centrally or on cloud.  Group policy wont work as we also want solution to be able to quickly restore image when a replacement computer is used.
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Paul WagnerFriend To Robots and RocksCommented:
The scripts could be run via Group Policy (assuming all 40 machines are in a domain), so that isn't really a concern when considering infrastructure options.

Correct me if I'm wrong: It sounds like you have 40 people across the country using whatever computer they're on and you are finding it difficult to manage them. In an attempt to consolidate your efforts, you want to roll out something like XenDesktop. Is that right?

If so, then yes, XenDesktop would be a great solution for you.
You might also consider using XenApp and deploying 2-3 Windows Servers with the Desktop Experience turned on. You'd want enough servers so that the environment could sustain a server failure. (Those users could log back in and connect to one of the other servers still working.)

While Andrew is right about WSUS and GP, using XD would mean that your users could connect from any device (even their phones). This would greatly increase production capabilities and relieve you from having to work on physical devices completely.
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Pedro GuerreroSystems AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Thank you Paul.  I've been doing more research and it looks like VMWare Mirage sounds like a better option.  We're also concerned about keeping a base image for these computers.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Well you need to look at MDT then for quick deployment, and then use Group Policy to manage desktops, and WSUS for updates...

However, 40 computers across different sites is the issue...

So maybe a Thin Client Server based computing, e.g.  Terminal Services/Remote Desktop Services, with a centrally managed server producing all Desktops or Applications...

Have a look at this article

http://www.wtslabs.com/Downloads/TSAtoZ.pdf

which explains what Terminal Server and Remote Desktop Services is.

Also if you sign up for this article here, it will expain and compare all the current VDI solutions available..

http://www.pqr.com/download/vdi-smackdown
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Paul WagnerFriend To Robots and RocksCommented:
Ya, Mirage is another option. I haven't played around with it so I can't tell you if it is good or not.

XenDesktop will certainly keep a common image. That's kind of the entire idea: Several people connect to a desktop that is a copy of the master image. You update the image periodically and everyone gets the new image. Using Citrix PvD, people can customize their software and settings while still getting a copy of image when it gets updated. That is what we do in our environment.
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