Unidesk Desktop Layering Technology

Unidesk offers a number of technical innovations you won't find anywhere else. Which is why we're the only solution capable of making Windows desktop management - and VDI - unbelievably simple.


Full Desktop Layering - Eliminate Multi-Console Complexity

Typical Desktop

Unidesk Layered Desktop

Unidesk manages the full desktop - operating system, applications, and users - with one, seamless solution. Our unique invention of changing how storage is presented to Windows eliminates the need for multiple administrative consoles and greatly simplifies desktop management.

Without Unidesk, desktops boot off of a C: drive that is a mishmash of Windows, IT-delivered applications, user-installed applications, user data, and user profiles. As end users and desktop administrators both make changes to this monolithic image, desktops gradually degrade and become more unstable. They also become much harder to patch, personalize, and repair.

With Unidesk, desktops boot off of a virtual C: drive made up of independently managed layers. IT creates single pristine layers of Windows and common applications. End users are free to make any customizations they want in their user layers. Unidesk dynamically composites these layers at boot time into unified storage. Desktops become easy to patch, personalize, and repair.


N Layer Granularity - Create and Manage "Real World" Desktops

In the real world, every user requires a unique set of apps. Only Unidesk's N-layer technology gives you the flexibility to create and manage desktops that are all a little different. While other layering technologies only offer a User layer, or force you to put all applications into a single Application layer or gold image, Unidesk lets you build desktops from any number and combination of layers.

Operating System (OS) layers are typically clean versions of Microsoft Windows. Most Unidesk customers have one OS layer for all desktops, making patches and updates amazingly simple. Others have a few OS layers for Windows variants (XP, 7, 32-bit, 64-bit) or testing. You can also include applications in the OS layer that are needed by all users, such as antivirus. Once you import a gold image into Unidesk as an OS layer, it becomes read-only, and can only be patched or updated by IT.

Application (App) layers contain Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, Skype, and other applications required by your users. Any application can be packaged as a layer, even those that require device drivers and boot-time services. Apps can be layered separately, or combined with other apps. Once packaged, app layers can be assigned to desktops with a simple click - no reinstallation needed. Like OS layers, App layers are read-only and can only be updated by IT.

User layers are automatically assigned to each Unidesk desktop. These read/write layers capture all user customizations, including local profile settings, data, and user-installed applications. The User layer remains intact no matter how often the underlying App or OS layers are patched, providing a persistent desktop experience without the need for roaming profiles or profile management tools.

Unidesk N Layer Technology


Layer Versioning - Undo User (and IT) Mistakes

Unidesk Layer Versioning

Unidesk's built-in versioning engine stores all changes to OS, App, and User layers. To deploy new Windows hot fixes, simply add a version to your existing OS layer. Unidesk boots a clean VM with your OS layer so you can install the hot fixes, just as you would on a normal desktop. When you're done, the new version appears as an assignable OS layer. Select all desktops or just a few to test, assign the new version, and schedule a reboot. App layers are updated or patched in the same way.

Unidesk versioning also gives you the power to undo bad patches or patching mistakes. Simply select the desktops again, and reassign a previous version of an OS or App layer. Schedule a reboot, and the desktops will be reverted back, giving you time to figure out what went wrong and reapply the patches.

User layers are also versioned, but in a special way. The Unidesk layering engine separates User Data from User Applications and Settings, giving your service desk a fast, inexpensive way to repair desktops without Level 2 or 3 escalations. You can roll the entire User layer back to an earlier version to remove malware, viruses, or DLL conflicts. Or, roll just the User Applications and Settings back, leaving the Data current.


Virtual Appliances - Get Up and Running Fast

Unidesk is implemented as software-only virtual appliances on your existing VMware infrastructure. The Unidesk Management Appliance is accessed through a web browser, and is used to provision, patch, assign, and report on virtual desktops. It also manages Unidesk policy and configuration, including information about Unidesk layers, desktops, and users. The Management Appliance can be deployed on any host in your virtual infrastructure, and one can typically service an entire VDI environment.

The Unidesk Master CachePoint appliance centrally stores all Operating System and Application layers. It also hosts the Installation Machines used to create OS and App layers and layer versions. The Master CachePoint replicates layers to Secondary CachePoints as needed. The use of delta differencing technology minimizes network traffic.

Unidesk Secondary CachePoint appliances cache OS and App layers as VMDK files, which our Composite Virtualization technology uses to create the virtual C: drives for each desktop. OS and App layer VMDKs are shared across all of the desktops on a Secondary CachePoint, which reduces the storage capacity footprint up to 70% compared to full-sized persistent desktops. Secondary CachePoints are not in the data path, so your desktops will be available as long as they can connect to the hypervisor's storage. Desktop density is also unaffected.

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Unidesk Topology