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


Financial Times: AppSense a ‘tech champion in the making’

September 6, 2011

AppSense is at the top of its game these days, and the mainstream business community is taking notice. In a profile entitled “Tech champion in the making,” Financial Times highlights AppSense’s early origins and recent ascent to a key leadership position in the virtualization space.

The piece also puts the spotlight on AppSense’s growing prominence in the UK business community. As reporter Andrew Bounds notes:

With Autonomy, the Cambridge-based FTSE 100 company, set to be taken over by Hewlett-Packard for $11bn, AppSense could become a new flagship of the British software industry.

As proud as we are to be a pillar of the UK technology industry, we are equally proud of our success elevating the company to a global stage through aggressive international expansion that hasn’t sacrificed the high standards and unique corporate culture on which AppSense’s early success was built.

As the article highlights:

AppSense is one of the few European companies that have successfully penetrated the US, which now accounts for more than half its revenues. For a software company to be successful overseas, it has to feel American, [AppSense chairman Charles Sharland] says. The management team is split between New York and Daresbury, and it is hiring a team of developers on the west coast to complement the 100 based in the UK.

Here on the inside, we feel the momentum continuing to build every day, and we see our UK pioneers and our U.S. trailblazers melding together into one powerhouse global team.


AppSense and HP Team to Help Customers Accelerate their Desktop Projects….

June 29, 2011

This week we’re tremendously excited to announce that AppSense is now part of the HP’s Client Virtualization Architecture, and we’ve recently published a joint reference architecture with HP specifically focused on user virtualization:

Brochure: HP Client Virtualization Enterprise Reference Architecture for Virtual System

Technical White Paper: HP Client Virtualization Reference Architecture – User Virtualization with AppSense and HP

 Think of user virtualization as being able to place a user’s identity, consisting of all their settings, profiles, policies, and data, onto any desktop you choose – a virtual desktop, a physical desktop, a published desktop, or any combination. As long as the user can log into a desktop on your network, they’ll have full access to their environment, using the full native power of the desktop they’re using.

It’s really rewarding to see the look on customers’ faces when they see obstacles previously thought to be “permanent pain points” eliminated. How about adding a new virtual desktop that is seamlessly integrated with their existing physical desktops? How about moving users on demand from one desktop to another? Or supporting users that need to use desktops at different facilities? Or managing multiple desktops for each user?  All are easily completed with user virtualization.

Now HP has two offerings with AppSense: a fully managed option from Enterprise Services, and a highly configurable architecture from the Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking Group (ESSN).  These plus the budding relationships with HP Technical Services, Personal Systems Group and Client Software will help drive our mutual success in enabling customers to migrate to Windows 7, implement Desktop Virtualization and take full advantage of the Optimized Desktop.  And it doesn’t matter which version of Windows you’re using, or how many combinations and permutations of OS, applications, and devices you have.

HP offers its customers the broadest range of “one-stop” desktop solutions.  They’re even better with AppSense –
users can have a smooth desktop transformation from XP to Windows 7, or transition to a virtual desktop without loss of settings or downtime.  Customers are intrigued – response is fantastic with tremendous interest from large banks, healthcare, government and other enterprise organizations. HP’s tag line is “The Computer is personal again” – AppSense is adding the icing on the cake by making it “… personal again everywhere!”

“User virtualization is a key component of HP’s Client Virtualization Reference Architecture – not only to ensure a satisfactory, personalized user experience, but also to reduce IT operation costs,” said Dan Nordhues, marketing manager, HP Client Virtualization Solutions. “HP has partnered with AppSense to leverage the clear benefits of user virtualization.”

David Roussain, VP Strategic Alliances

Further Information:

A Full Copy of the Press Release can be read here – AppSense User Virtualization Selected For HP’s New Client Virtualization Reference Architecture


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