NEW FEATURE No. 2 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Connect As

August 25, 2009

Here is the second installment in a series of posts about the new features and options in AppSense Version 8 Service Pack 2.  (If you have not yet downloaded this latest release, you can read more info and download it from here )

AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 introduces a new option – Connect As.

Similar in functionality to the Run As option (see previous post), the Connect As option is only available from the Drive and Printers Actions.

This new feature can be used in conjunction with the existing AppSense Environment Manager policy actions, one example is that of mapping a shared network drive or folder, where multiple users would connect with the same user name and password.  By using AppSense Environment Manager and the new Connect As command, all required users will have the drive automatically mapped with the shared user name and password.

Note: When connecting as a specified user, AppSense Environment Manager impersonates the current user. This ensures the connection is added to the correct location in the registry

P:S
As this is an ever growing blog topic, more posts on the other new features we have detailed can be found below:

NEW FEATURE No. 1 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run As

NEW FEATURE No. 2 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Connect As

NEW FEATURE No. 3 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Improved compression and data handling protocol

NEW FEATURE No. 4 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Manipulation of files in Personalization Analysis

NEW FEATURE No. 5 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run Once

NEW FEATURE No. 6 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Group SID Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 7 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Trigger Action Time Audit Event

NEW FEATURE No. 8 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Stop If Fails

NEW FEATURE No. 9 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – New Application Categories in the User Interface

NEW FEATURE No. 10 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 11 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Registry Hive Exclusions


VDI Personalization and Configuration: Profile Management & Logon Scripts – not enough for multiple delivery mechanisms & OS platforms?

July 24, 2009

As a leading user environment management vendor, AppSense are in a unique position in that we have been involved many VDI projects and rollouts, of which the majority vary in architecture, technology and requirements.  One thing that does however remain the same between such projects is that of the requirement for user personalization management.

For many years the roaming profile provided user personalization in SBC environments, however as VDI deployments become more and more complex, with varying methods of desktop and applications delivery, along with multiple desktop operating systems and subsequently, profile versions, the roaming profile is no longer able to provide the user with their required settings in such (complex?) scenarios.

Furthermore, these desktops must now be constructed and configured based on the context of the user and/or connecting device.  i.e. mapping specific printers local to the user and device dependent on the location of the user logging on, or applying security policies to hide or remove access to network drives, folders, data and functionality such as copy and paste or print, again, based on the location of the user.  Whereby the desktop delivered to a user when connected locally inside the corporate LAN is different to that of the desktop delivered to the same user when connecting remotely from outside of the LAN.

One more point to consider is that of enabling the user to freely roam between the server hosted or provisioned virtual desktop, and the users local desktop device such as their PC or roaming laptop.  How do you as IT enable user settings to automically follow the user between different platforms?

AppSense Environment Manager was designed from the ground-up with functionality to accommodate the above requirements, making it, or, other user environment management solutions essential to the mass adoption of VDI on an enterprise scale.  In essence, AppSense provides the ability to encompass multiple delivery technologies and OS platforms by allowing the user to roam between the paradigms without any noticeable change to their desktop or user experience, enabling IT and the organization to benefit from flexibility, agility and lower TCO.  I do at this point want to highlight that this is different to the personalization management provided by the leading VDI vendors (Citrix, Microsoft, VMware etc), as their in-built functionality is typically designed for their delivery platform, not each other’s.   In essence, further to the advanced personalization and simplification of desktop management, AppSense also enables an organization to use combinations of both existing technologies, and (potentially) more importantly, any future VDI delivery technologies and vendors.
 
I have just found a very nice blog covering the functionality of not only AppSense Environment Manager, but also the base technology inherent within the leading VDI service providers – Citrix, VMware and Microsoft.  Hopefully from this blog post, and the information over at GenerationV, you will see how AppSense bridges the gap between the roaming user and a dynamic, flexible VDI model..

For more information on this, the GenerationV Profile Management blog can be found here


Citrix Session & Application Timeouts, a Great Solution

July 21, 2009

I had a great day on Tuesday. An AppSense client had an issue where their remote workers experienced their Citrix applications timing out on them.

After connecting, and using application 1, by the time they go to use application number 2, it had timed out, and when they try to restart it, Web Interface had timed out as well.

So the clients question was  “How can AppSense help me?!”.

Enter “ENVIRO-MAN” from the left of screen. All dressed in pretty green and looking surprisingly like the Environment Manager Product Manager :-)

“Your session timeouts do not scare me” he roared as he landed awkwardly on the photocopier, injuring his knee.

While “ENVIRO-MAN” proceeded to bore one of the office staff with stories about the mighty Blackpool Football Club, I decided to dig in and fix the problem.

Session Timeouts are controlled by a number of parameters – as examples, there are some per server settings based on type of connection (RDP or ICA) and some user based settings set in Active Directory.

However, if you require more granularity, that’s where AppSense Environment Manager lives…

By using a Group Policy Action (Set ADM Policy / Set ADMX Policy), I was able to load in the ADM settings from the “C:\Windows\inf” directory.  I then typed “session” into the filter, and up came the Terminal Server Session Timeout setting…  Magic :-)

By using EM Rules/Conditions I could now vary the Session timeouts based on IP address, Client Name, or even by integrating it into the results of Citrix AAC filters :-)

I demoed it to the client (they were blown away), thanked ENVIRO-MAN for his help and left to help the next client in need.

All in a good days work :-)


Review of AppSense Environment Manager 8 by vExpert Tom Howarth

July 8, 2009

Tom Howarth (a VCP/vExpert specializing in Thin Client & Virtualization solutions) and author of www.PlanetVM.net has published a comprehensive review of AppSense Environment Manager Version 8.0

Tom is well known and highly respected within the VMware and Citrix communities and as such, this positive review comes with high regards.  In Tom’s concluding words he describes AppSense Environment Manager as, “It is a Ronseal product – it does what it says on the tin.”

The article can be viewed at http://planetvm.net/blog/?p=122


Managing Roaming Users & Printers Across Desktop, Citrix & VMware

June 28, 2009

Managing user printers and printer policies across Desktop, Server Based Computing ( SBC – Microsoft Terminal Server & Citrix XenApp) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI – Citrix XenDesktop & VMware View) environments is becoming increasingly complex.

Administrators are spending huge effort (meaning they are also missing on investigating other projects) managing complex logon scripts to perform printer mappings, and, when printers are not available, for example if the user has roamed or changed desk or location or changed desktop delivery mechanism, IT must answer a support call and manually map the printer for the user.

AppSense Environment Manager solves this issue by automatically mapping the local or closest printer to the user and thier device (no matter how their desktop is being delivered to them), without the need for any complex logon scripts.  This not only reduces the time and costs associated with ongoing IT operations, but also improves the user experience and ensures all printed documents, including confidential data, is printed to the correct printer.

Using a combination of conditions (when an action is to apply) and actions (the application of a specific policy, in this case, mapping a printer) AppSense Environment Manager will dynamically map any pre-determined printer based on Client IP or MAC address conditions.  As an enterprise focused product, this all achieved and configured in a very simple and intuative management console as opposed to traditional complex logon scripts and policy actions.

Further more, it is common practice for many enterprise environments to have dedicated printers mapped and used exclusivly by specific applications, such as ERP or Finance applications.  AppSense Environment Manager is again used by thousands of organzations around the world to help provide a logical and cost effective solution to ensuring certain applications always print to the same secure printers. Please see the screenshot below showing that when the JD Edwards application is launched, and the user is running the application on a client within a set IP address range, then a specific printer is automatically mapped as the only printer available for the application.App_Printer

In this scenario, printers can be enforced as the only printer available for a specific application, based on either application name or, application IP address if it is delivered from a silo via streaming or publishing technology.   With that said, AppSense Environment Manager can also provide security in that the user can not change the printer, yet requried flexibility of allowing the user to change specific settings such as paper trays, paper sizes, formats & finishing etc..

In conclusion, printing can be a troublesome, time consuming issue, but it needent be.  AppSense Environment Manager is not only proven to resolve these issues, but also reduce opertional costs and provide a strong ROI.

For more information, please visit www.AppSense.com


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