Follow the Leader Leader Leader, Follow the Leader…

October 14, 2011

They may say ‘Imitation is a form of flattery’, but what about when Imitation becomes copying? …

As the user virtualization market continues to grow at an astonishing rate, I am aware that as new competitors enter a market, or when existing competitors enhance their positioning, some may look to what has proven successful for the established leader.

Recently you will have hopefully noticed that AppSense updated our corporate branding, messaging & positioning as the world moves to a people-centric computing model.  During this creation process I also took the opportunity to look back at the previous versions of our brand and messaging, and I noticed something quite interesting – we must be on to a good thing, as there are several examples of ankle-biting imitation I would like to share with you…

… You may be familiar with the (inaccurate) comparison tables and blogs published by such new or recently revamped competitive technologies, comparing their products and point solutions to the AppSense User Virtualization solution. However that is a topic for another day, what I want to focus on today in this blog post is the adoption of AppSense style branding in their go to market messaging… let me give you a few examples.


Section 1 – Use your own crayons.

We live in a creative and digital age – diversity is everywhere, everywhere apart from the graphic design and branding departments at Liquidware Labs (LWL) and RES Software…

Case 1. – Sore Throats and Lozenges

It would appear the boys at LWL spend more time creating inaccurate comparison tables and positioning their product as a second class half price alternative to AppSense instead of creating some original corporate branding.  Below you will see an image showing a portion of the welcome screen in the AppSense product console.

And below is our AppSense Management Suite offering:

I think many of you will be familiar with the above, it’s been in our software for years and we have been presenting this Suite for years at industry events. So I was a little surprised, well, flattered to see our branding on the LWL website homepage:

Notice the similarities to both layout and product icons?  I guess the boys at LWL must have sore throats from shouting all the incorrect statements about AppSense, because wow, they really like their Lozenges.


Case 2. – Where’s your head at?

Ok, so you may be thinking that’s not so much of a big deal, so what if LWL copied layout and product icons… but what about adopting a very similar image that AppSense is well known for – the virtualized user head:

 

Most of you will have seen the above images; it was our latest branding up until our recent uplift.  Admittedly, when most of you first saw it you asked “What is it?!” but that’s good – it provokes thought and opens doors to conversation.

A while ago I received a LWL email newsletter, with a rather striking, and familiar image…  some form of virtualized or digital user?! Surely not?  First the lozenges and now the head?  You can see it in the screenshot below, what do you think?


Case 3. – Tangled in the lines

After product icons and virtual head images comes the graphics used in web pages and banners.  Below is a sample of one of the old pages on the www.AppSense.com 

And the below graphic is what was created for AppSense Strata in mid-2009 (what is AppSense Strata is another story – look out for a post from Harry Labana soon! ;) )

The below sample was taken from the RESguru blog homepage – admittedly this blue themed banner was used prior to the recent RES rebrand to orange.. But color aside.. Looks nothing more than add a few bright particles and change the words?!

 

 

And today we have the slogan ‘More Technology – Less Koolaid!’ – Mr. Guru, I suggest something more fitting, ‘More Copying – Less Originality!’ perhaps? ;-)


Section 2 – It’s only words, and words are all I have…

Messaging and branding aside, which are in fairness only references to similarities between our branding styles, the more alarming content copying comes in the form of content and wording used in Admin Guides and Job Postings:

Case 1. – Administer this.

How many times have you heard or said ‘RTFM’?  Well, what if I were to suggest if the ‘The’ in RTFM was in fact ‘THEIR’?, because if you are a RES Software customer, and you want to learn about Windows Appearance and Control Panel Settings, you may as well read the AppSense Environment Manager How To document, because that is where they copied the wording from.  Below is a short snippet from our document:

With the above in mind, now look at the wording in the below snippet take from a Workspace Management product document… almost word for word replication:

I mentioned earlier that imitation is a form of flattery, but this is bare faced lazy copying, and certainly is not flattering… imitating our features 12 months later is one thing, but please – write your own admin guides for them :-)


Case 2. – If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

(or at least try and attract the same people as them.)

Hands up who has ever used Copy + Paste? Everyone yes?

Ok, hands up if you have had the nerve to Copy + Paste direct from your competitors website, and then post it under the context of your company.. In full public view?! – Everyone No? – Everyone, apart from a corner cutter at RES Software.

Below is a screen shot of an old job description from AppSense.com, a standard job description we have used for years, in fact the job I first joined AppSense as almost 8 years ago.

Now, I noticed a few folks at RES Software had posted comments in the AppSense group on LinkedIn – no problem there, I’m all for discussions and ideas (keep it up).However from there I clicked onto the RES Software group and saw, what I can only describe as (I would say shocking, but I am not shocked, I have already seen the use of our content in their product documents) embarrassing – Advertising a job, using your competitors job description. Please see below.

I know it may seem only a small thing, but please, come on. That isn’t cricket.


You’re welcome at the table…

I am all in favor of additional vendors joining this space, the market potential is huge – the more we have, the more focus and recognition as to the importance of the user component of the desktop, the more innovation, and the more options available to end user customers – what I do object to is the recycling of AppSense created content.. if you’re going to join the table… at least come with your own chips.

For now, sit back – and enjoy your favourite song guys..

Regards

Gareth.

P:S – more to follow.


Get to User Centric IT Faster! AppSense and Centrix Partnership Accelerates Desktop Transformation

September 22, 2011

I am pleased to write that AppSense and Centrix Software today announced a strategic partnership to provide organizations with a comprehensive, user-centric transformation program.  AppSense and Centrix Software have been successfully working together with joint partners on large desktop transformation projects for our enterprise customers, and are proud to formalize this partnership and methodology to benefit many more enterprise IT strategies and projects.

AppSense embraces a full partner community and eco-system comprising other leading vendor/solution providers , platform partners, reseller partners, system integrators and consultancy partners, and are very excited to partner with Centrix Software.

Why? Corporate IT strategy is at a tipping point; we have entered a period of transformation, a new generation of virtual desktops, application delivery methods and multiple accessing devices are being used by an increasingly demanding and mobile workforce, coupled with migration projects such as Windows 7 adoption has paved the way for replacing static, infrastructure based computing to that of IT as a Service, orchestrated around the user and their requirements at any point in time.  AppSense and Centrix Software enables enterprise desktop transformation projects and facilitates the move to a user centric computing strategy by delivering on the requirements at each stage of the desktop life-cycle and providing both the insight and management options to seamlessly adoption new technologies such as Windows 7, Application and Desktop Virtualization, Cloud Computing and Bring Your Own Device initiatives.

The press release can be read on AppSense News Pages here.

Together, AppSense and Centrix Software will be hosting a joint webinar, “Transforming the Enterprise Desktop″, on Wednesday, October 5th at 3 p.m. GMT. The webinar will be hosted by Richard Pegden, Director of Product Marketing at Centrix Software and myself. To register please visit the webinar registration page here.

Like all of our partners, thank you Centrix Software for your continued support and enthusiasm, we look forward to even greater success in making the move to user centric computing a simple, low-cost process.

Gareth Kitson
Director of Product Marketing | EMEA.


Windows 7 challenge equals opportunity for IT services firms

September 20, 2011

Last week, I touched on how user virtualization can remove friction from OS migration by shifting IT teams from a point-in-time migration mindset to one where each user’s ‘digital personality’ becomes portable across any operating system or deployment method.

But just as Windows 7 migration provides an opportunity for AppSense technology to take on a more strategic role, it is also an opportunity for IT services firms to step up and provide strategic counsel on how to overcome difficulties parting ways with Windows XP.

AppSense’s Helen Major made this point in a CRN article by Caroline Donnelly today:

“Large-scale migration projects can be costly, time consuming and disruptive,” [Major] added. “Unless companies are given options that minimise these three things, we will definitely see a continued reluctance from IT managers to move off XP.”

The compelling event of XP support sunset offers IT services firms with the right mix of skills a tremendous opportunity to build a more strategic relationship with customers. Moreover, CRN’s Donnelly cites Microsoft numbers that peg the migration-related services opportunity at $400m (£251m).

Resellers and service providers? This could be your finest (and most lucrative) hour, and AppSense can and should be the centerpiece of the strategy you bring to your customers.

IT pros? You’re not alone. In fact, you can find some of the most talented experts in the business among the ranks of the AppSense Certified Solutions Providers.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing


Building the IT team of the future

September 20, 2011

Yesterday, Forbes published an article by our own Harry Labana entitled “Does IT still matter?” In it, Harry highlights how the unprecedented IT transformation on the near horizon is about more than shifts in technology. Equally impacted are the legions of IT pros for whom “business as usual” will no longer cut it.

In the future that Harry sees, the most effective IT teams will be the ones that shed their low-level system administration roots and develop new, more business-focused competency bridging in-house and cloud-based resources:

This new breed of corporate IT pro will also have to be open to becoming “masher uppers”, people who can connect external and internal services to drive business solutions with sensible governance, protecting the enterprise as opposed to the command and control that represent inertia in so many IT organizations today. This would also help mitigate against the very real threat of the best talent migrating away from corporate IT to service providers.

It’s an interesting perspective. As an industry, we spend quite a bit of time articulating to customers how enterprise IT infrastructure will be transformed through developments such as virtualization, consumerization of IT, and cloud computing. Less attention is being paid to how IT skills and management priorities must be transformed as well.

Visit Forbes.com to read Harry’s full article.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing


Thinking strategically about Windows 7 will pay dividends with Windows 8

September 14, 2011

As Windows XP end of support approaches, Windows 7 migration urgency is rising for IT teams everywhere. As the pressure mounts, there is a temptation among IT pros to kick into “brute force mode,” characterized by a desire to get the project done as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary.

As we engage with customers on Windows 7 migration projects, our first piece of advice is that a strategic approach centered around user virtualization will both accelerate the actual move to Windows 7 and realize other key benefits such as:

  • Lower OS management cost through image standardization and more granular user rights management.
  • Seamless roaming between native PCs and new application and desktop virtualization approaches – either as part of the migration or whenever the time is right.
  • Enabling user environment portability – rather then performing a one-way migration – to establish a frictionless path to Windows 8 or whatever else comes along.

This last point has been more theoretical than practical…until today. Take a look at this quick video that my colleague Jon Wallace put together. Mere hours after the first developer preview of Windows 8 became available, you are already able to see user personalization applied on-demand as a user roams between Windows 7 and Windows 8:

Obviously, there is a fair bit of work remaining (by both us and Microsoft) before we will claim production-ready Windows 8 support. However, you can see the power that comes from decoupling the user from the underlying operating system and applications. Migration is replaced by enablement, and enablement becomes very easy.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing

Update: Oh, by the way, it works between Windows XP and Windows 8 too:


BYOD calls for a shift to a user-centric IT mindset

September 9, 2011

In an eWeek article earlier this week, Jeffrey Burt highlighted the increasing pressure that the BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, trend is placing on enterprise IT teams. In a departure from the days of a single, uniform PC on every employee’s desk, Cisco Systems research cited by Burt points to a world where by 2015 the average U.S. citizen will have a whopping seven network-connected devices:

The ongoing consumerization of IT has been a focal point for several years of analysts and vendors alike, who say the adoption of personal mobile devices will continue to grow. According to Cisco Systems’ annual Visual Networking Index Forecast released in June, by 2015, there will be almost 15 billion network-connected devices—including smartphones, notebooks, tablets and other smart machines—more than two for every person on the planet. By 2015, the average U.S. citizen will have seven connected devices.

The scary part for IT is that devices are only one part of the equation. New devices and methods of computing bring more applications, many of which also blur the lines between work and personal life. Under traditional thinking, each combination of user, device, and applications forms another unique configuration that IT needs to manage and secure. As the number of devices and applications explode, this device-centric management mindset becomes untenable.

Don’t get me wrong; there will always be a need to provide some degree of device-level patching and security. However, a better way to contend with the BYOD wave is to shift IT management and policy focus to users rather than devices. If IT can ensure a responsive, personalized experience and define context-adaptive configuration and security policies at the user level, they can worry less about which devices or deployment methods users are making use of.

With a user-centric approach, IT can offer freedom of choice rather than roadblocks to end-users without sacrificing operational efficiency and sound IT governance.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing


Client hypervisors are going mainstream, but management is the real prize

September 7, 2011

Microsoft made news today by confirming what many of us already suspected: Windows 8 will include a PC-optimized version of the Hyper-V hypervisor that has been part of Windows Server since 2008. This is an exciting development, as it will apply the power of modern PC platforms to support new use cases and management possibilities.

As Microsoft program manager Matthew John noted on the Building Windows 8 blog:

Hyper-V enables developers to easily maintain multiple test environments and provides a simple mechanism to quickly switch between these environments without incurring additional hardware costs. For example, we release pre-configured virtual machines containing old versions of Internet Explorer to support web developers. The IT administrator gets the additional benefit of virtual machine parity and a common management experience across Hyper-V in Windows Server and Windows Client. We also know that many of you use virtualization to try out new things without risking changes to the PC you are actively using.

While power users and IT pros will rejoice over the ability to run an multi-OS environment for testing, sandboxing, or legacy compatibility purposes, the most significant statement is my eyes is “a common management experience across Hyper-V in Windows Server and Windows Client.” While it is only teased in this initial post, management innovation is what will determine whether client hypervisor technology is a a novelty or a game-changer.

The true promise of client-side virtualization has less to do with running multiple OS instances on a PC (though it’s useful in a number of situations) and more to do applying the virtualization management goodness like hardware abstraction, simplified OS deployment and patching, and simplified troubleshooting and recovery through techniques such as VM snapshots to reduce desktop management cost and complexity. So, if you think about it for a moment, Microsoft adding a client hypervisor is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning.

That said, a shift from traditional PC management techniques to more efficient approaches that use virtual machine technology cannot happen overnight. This is where Microsoft is in a unique position, as the System Center family is really the only systems management solution that effectively straddles the physical and virtual worlds. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Microsoft is in extending System Center’s virtualization management capabilities to PCs as a complement to System Center Configuration Manager.

This point of convergence between native and virtual desktop deployment is also where AppSense achieves maximum strategic value. Microsoft’s move confirms what AppSense customers are already telling us every day: there is not a single answer as to how enterprise desktops will deployed moving forward. The enterprise computing environment has become a heterogenous collection of technologies and deployment approaches. This heterogeneity will only grow as new computing paradigms such as tablets and cloud computing emerge and new deployment techniques such as client hypervisors move into the mainstream.

When heterogeneity reigns, AppSense reigns, as we are the “glue” that can bring disparate vendor technologies, operating systems, and deployment approaches (native or virtual) together. Client hypervisors are just one more tool in the IT toolbox.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing


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