Introduction - Dynamic Environment Manager

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VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) offers personalization and dynamic policy configuration across any virtual, physical, or cloud-based Windows desktop environment. Dynamic Environment Manager simplifies end-user profile management by providing organizations with a single, light-weight, and scalable solution that leverages existing infrastructure. It accelerates time-to-desktop and time-to-application by replacing bloated roaming profiles and unmanageable, complex logon scripts. It maps environmental settings (such as networked drives and printers), and dynamically applies end user security policies and personalizations. This focused, powerful, and scalable solution is engineered to deliver workplace productivity while driving down the cost of day-to-day desktop support and operations.


  • Centralized and simplified management of Windows environments
  • Dynamic, contextual policy management
  • Consistent user experience across devices and locations
  • Integration with Horizon through Smart Policies
  • Easy Start for adding applications and environment settings to manage
  • Application templates and Application Profiler
  • Self-Support Tool
  • Helpdesk Support Tool

Use Cases

Some of the most popular reasons why enterprises choose Dynamic Environment Manager include:

  • Saving users' settings across devices for a consistent user experience
  • Improving logon times by carrying out tasks dynamically, if and when needed, instead of all at logon time
  • Managing least privileges to improve IT operations with privilege elevation to elevate permissions instead of granting local admin privilege to end users
  • Providing desktops just in time giving users the flexibility to customize their desktops while maintaining non-persistent desktops for streamlined management

Dynamic Environment Manager Standard Edition

Historically, DEM was included with Horizon 7 Enterprise licensing, or could be purchased stand-alone for use with Horizon Standard and Advanced licenses. With the release of Horizon 8 (2006), DEM licensing has been updated to make some DEM features available with all Horizon licenses.

A new version, DEM Standard, is now available for Horizon 8 Standard and Advanced. DEM Standard edition includes the following features:

  • Personalization
  • User Environment Configuration - Drive mapping, folder redirection, logon/logoff tasks, and printer mapping
  • Condition Sets
  • Application Profiler
  • Helpdesk Support Tool

The full-featured DEM Enterprise continues to be bundled with Horizon Enterprise. DEM Enterprise provides all the capabilities of DEM Standard plus application blocking, privilege elevation, and more.

Components of Dynamic Environment Manager

There are three main components of Dynamic Environment Manager:

  1. Management Console - Primary application interface for IT to configure and manage Dynamic Environment Manager
  2. FlexEngine - Agent component, which is installed on the virtual or physical machines that you want to manage
  3. File shares - Dynamic Environment Manager relies on a folder hierarchy to store configuration files in the configuration share and user data in the profile archives share

Architecture of Dynamic Environment Manager

This overview of the architecture shows how the components relate to each other. All components of Dynamic Environment Manager communicate using the SMB protocol.

  • Dynamic Environment Manager GPO - You create a GPO for each Active Directory organizational unit (OU) you want to manage.
  • Dynamic Environment Manager NoAD Mode - The NoAD mode is an alternative to configuring Dynamic Environment Manager with Active Directory Group Policy. You do not need to create a GPO, logon and logoff scripts, or configure Windows Group Policy settings.  In NoAD mode, all Dynamic Environment Manager GPO settings are ignored. If settings from a previous GPO-based deployment are encountered, no actions are performed and a message is logged to the FlexEngine log file.  You can provide the settings for configuring Dynamic Environment Manager with the NoAD mode through an XML file on the central configuration share. When a user logs in, FlexEngine reads the settings from the XML file and applies them to the registry.
  • Dynamic Environment Manager Management Console - You use this Dynamic Environment Manager administrative UI to configure application settings, Windows environment manager settings, conditions under which the settings go into effect, and various other configuration settings and Horizon Smart Policies for things like printer mapping, attaching devices to the virtual desktop or application, and the ability to copy and paste text.
  • Dynamic Environment Manager Application Profiler - For applications for which you cannot find an already-created application template, you can use this standalone application that analyzes where the application stores its file and registry configuration and also sets the initial configuration state of the application.
  • Central configuration share - This file share stores the Management Console configuration and Dynamic Environment Manager configuration files. The Dynamic Environment Manager agent (FlexEngine) on virtual desktops and RDSH servers reads the configuration file on this share and applies the settings specified in the configuration file.
  • Network folder per user - In this file share, each folder, or profile archive, contains ZIP files where the Dynamic Environment Manager agent (FlexEngine) stores the personalized settings of a user. For each Dynamic Environment Manager (Flex) configuration file that you create, FlexEngine creates a profile archive for each user.
  • Dynamic Environment Manager Helpdesk Support Tool - This tool provides capabilities to support and maintain the Dynamic Environment Manager profile archives and profile archive backups.
  • Clients with Dynamic Environment Manager FlexEngine - The agent software, FlexEngine, runs on each virtual desktop or RDSH server whose applications are to be managed. This agent reads the centralized configuration file, applies Dynamic Environment Manager settings, and saves those user settings that end users are allowed to control. In this client-server architecture, the FlexEngine agent software plays the client role, and the Dynamic Environment Manager Flex configuration file plays the server role.
  • SyncTool - Laptop users who are not always connected to the corporate network need access to their Dynamic Environment Manager configuration files while offline. SyncTool makes all VMware Dynamic Environment Manager configuration files available locally and synchronizes changes when users connect to the corporate network. Additionally, users with a slow WAN connection can use local Dynamic Environment Manager configuration files, thus limiting network traffic and avoiding continuously roaming personal settings.

NOTE: This lab is using NoAD Mode

Easy Start

NOTE: This has already been done for you in this lab.

By default, Dynamic Environment Manager does not manage any applications or environment settings after you install it. You must specify which applications and settings to manage. Although this approach takes a little more work up front, this solution prevents excessive profile growth and profile corruption, enables user settings to roam across Windows versions, and gives you granular control to manage as much or as little of the user experience as needed.

To help with getting started, the Easy Start button instantly adds many common Windows applications, including several versions of Microsoft Office, to the list of applications managed by Dynamic Environment Manager. Many Windows environment settings are also added by Easy Start. You can then easily select an application or Windows setting to review and change the default settings.

In this lab we will go over VMware Dynamic Environment Manager.  The lab will explore

  • Application Customization
  • Application Profiling
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