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.


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


Introduction and Microsoft Partner Solutions Center…

August 23, 2011

Hi I am Michael Kleef, Director of Business Development for Microsoft and Citrix at AppSense. I’m a recent addition to AppSense having spent nearly 11 years at Microsoft with my last role being a Senior Technical Product Manager for depth content and knowledge in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 RDS and VDI.

I have had  few interested messages through my email and privately over twitter (@mkleef) asking why I left Microsoft and chose to go to AppSense. Essentially I was really excited by what I saw AppSense doing; transforming the discussion from device centric computing to a world of user centric computing. The interesting thing is that even while I was at Microsoft I was seeing evidence that in addition to Microsoft, many other companies saw great value in AppSense such as inclusion with a number of major players into their reference architectures such as the HP client reference architecture and Cisco VXI. AppSense also won the Citrix Ready Partner of the Year 2010. I did my own due diligence looking at others, though in the end it made it an easy slam dunk move to go to the market leader in the user virtualization space.

Microsoft is obviously a critical partner in multiple areas for AppSense, so it’s important that we are onsite on the Microsoft Redmond campus regularly. To help us support that we are  part of the on campus Microsoft Partner Solutions Center (MPSC).  The MPSC is a facility that showcases some of Microsoft’s partners and their  solutions for business and demonstration purposes. Having been there for almost a year now, we can confirm it’s a great facility with tremendous value to the Microsoft partner ecosystem. We also noticed that RES Software have recently joined the MPSC. The addition of RES Software to the MPSC confirms the importance and relevancy of the user virtualization market that we pioneered which is growing significantly and presenting an exciting challenge to our product leadership.

Demonstration systems on the Microsoft campus are especially important to be able to showcase your product and how it works. I personally developed an integrated Citrix, Microsoft and AppSense demo on the Microsoft campus in Redmond many months ago. It includes Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1,Hyper-V, Windows 7 Enterprise SP1, App-V packaged applications and streamed applications such as Office 2010 all running on top of Citrix XenDesktop 5 and XenApp 6. Overlaid on top of that is AppSense User Virtualization which seamlessly manages the user as they create settings and move in real-time from their XenDesktop managed Windows 7 to a XenApp 6 session. This is available on Microsoft’s corporate network which any Microsoft employee can logon to using their domain credentials making it a very good demo for them to use with existing or potential customers.

We plan to take this demo further forward and place it on the Internet for our partners to also use and see the power of AppSense User Virtualization really delivering value in a variety of Citrix and Microsoft technology scenarios. Watch this space for more on that!

If you have any questions about User Virtualization at the MPSC or would be interested in getting a demo from one of our team in your local area, drop me a line.

Thanks,
Michael Kleef


Business Analysis Profile: A review of AppSense as a company – leadership statistics and growth plans…

August 12, 2011

Alistair Houghton has written an interesting article about AppSense, “a ray of light bursting through the dark economic stormclouds”.

He details annual revenues in excess of $70m, Goldman Sachs investment, $2.4bn market opportunity, customers, partnerships, Charles Sharland the Entrepreneur, head count, office locations, recent recruitment, and expansion.

You can read the article in full here – Tech firm AppSense looks to growth

Thanks

Gaz





Google Frame: Bypassing Security, Lockdown & Admin controls – A mockery, or an awakening to managing the Unknown?

June 22, 2011

 Google has just launched a new version of Google Frame – a plug-in designed for Internet Explorer based on the open-source Chromium project.  Unfortunately, it presents a significant problem for IT departments, in that users can install the plug-in even if they don’t have Administrator Rights on their desktop.  Now, I am not picking on Google in this blog, but using Google Frame as an excellent example of how unauthorized and unknown software can easily enter corporate desktops that are only protected by managing and blocking ‘known’ code and software.

 Back to Google Frame, A comment on the Hacker News site sums this up nicely saying:

“Yay for clever technical hacks that help users circumvent ossified IT bureaucracy. But I’m a little astonished that this is possible. They’re running a second process that detects new instances of IE starting up and injects Chrome Frame into them. Doesn’t that make a mockery of “admin rights”?

Fair comment indeed… but those Admin rights are often there for a reason – to protect the desktop, the data and the user from unknown software. Google isn’t doing end-users any favours by circumventing established security protocols – it will just encourage IT departments to try and lock down desktops even further.

According an insightful article from Cade Metz, at The Register: “Google is well aware of this. But the company says that if admins don’t like it, they can use separate Google admin tools to stop it from happening.” But that assumes IT admins are aware of the issue, and the separate Google admin tools in the first place, in order to control it .. ouch?!

My thought here is – you only know what you know, you don’t know what you don’t know – Making some aspects of managing the desktop for some IT departments, especially in this case, a reactive, firefighting process. 

My question therefore is – How can you control, manage and protect against the unknown?!

The answer to my question and for AppSense customers concerned about this issue, I’m happy to confirm that this is something automatically handled out of the box by Application Manager – One of the requirements of a User Virtualization solution is to dynamically and automatically control application entitlement and the ability to control what a user can introduce and execute into their desktop environment.  For over 10 years Application Manager has been protecting millions and millions of corporate desktops around the world, AppSense will recognise any attempt by the user to install or run any unknown or unauthorized piece of software, even a plug-in and block it unless permission has been given.

AppSense User virtualization achieves this with a kernel level filter driver within the Windows operating system. This filter intercepts all execution requests, whether known or unknown software, scripts, DLL’s etc,  prior to an application or code actually launching or executing, to determine if the request is to be authorized or prohibited. Any unauthorized requests are blocked and the user receives a message, configurable by the administrator, stating that execution has been denied.  Authorization or denial can be manged in a number of ways:

AppSense Trusted Ownership: Managing the Unknown

Protect the system without complex lists and constant management. Only code installed and owned by ‘trusted owners’ is allowed to execute. By using this method, current application access policy is immediately enforced ‘out of the box’ without the need for scripting or list management.  In this case, Google Frame would be prevented from running the installation and the application is blocked automatically, even though the code itself is unknown to the IT department! – Problem Solved.   (note – The trusted owners list can be extended to suit any environment or content directory infrastructure.)

White & Black List Configurations: Granular Management of the Known

White & black List configurations can be used in conjunction with Trusted Ownership to control known applications which pass the NTFS owner check. Applications that users should not have access to such as administrator owned tools like cmd.exe or ftp.exe  are automatically denied. Or, create white lists to guarantee only known and trusted applications can
execute on a system.

So… there we have it, while vendors are developing software that can bypass desktop controls and enter the corporate desktop environment, and unknown (malware) threats challenge our IT departments, there is a solution available in the form of AppSense User Virtualization.

If anyone has any further specific thoughts or questions about Google Frame, any other ( potentially unknown) applications  or User Admin Rights, then please do share them here on the AppSense blog – as ever we love to hear what the community has to say.

Hope this helps, and keen to hear your thoughts…

Gaz


CitrixTV, CitrixSynergy – Fujitsu’s Partners with Microsoft, Citrix & AppSense for Fujitsu Virtual Client Services

June 22, 2011

As the world continues to move to a user-centric computing model, provisioning configured and personalized IT Services to users across a wide-range of accessing devices, locations and across multiple delivery mechanisms, User Virtualization technology is continuing to gain momentum in many reference architects and standard offerings from Managed Desktop providers.  As the world leading User Virtualization solution provider, AppSense are proud to be part of yet another standard offering from one of the world leading managed desktop providers – in this case, Fujitsu Virtual Client Services.

Fujitsu Virtual Client Services (VCS) is “Fujitsu’s Managed Services approach to delivering hosted virtual desktops”, it is a hosted environment that delivers centrally managed desktops and application to users in any location from any device.  To create a “tried and tested, repeatable standard approach that can be re-used in implementations around the world”, Fujitsu has partnered with world leading vendors at each level of the desktop and across the backend infrastructure to provide a complete Citrix Ready solution.

At Citrix Synergy, CitrixTV recorded a number of video interviews where Fujitsu were ‘extremely proud’ to announce a complete end-to-end solution, utilizing Fujitsu technologies along with Citrix, Microsoft, AppSense, ThinPrint, ChangeBASE to put together a ‘best in class offering’.

Videos are:

Interview with Tony Cox, Global Offerings Architect, Fujitsu – In this interview, Tony explains how Fujitsu VCS is a key component of Fujitsu Global Desktop Managed Service, meeting all end-user needs and giving users the best possible service.  Tony also details key drivers as to why customers are moving Fujitsu VCS and how the solution is a combination of leading solutions that Fujitsu are proud to be working with.

You can watch the video over on CitrixTV by clicking on the image below:

 

Interview with Jay Clark, Senior Product Manager, Fujitsu – In this interview Jay explains the importance of the Fujitsu partnerships with Citrix, Microsoft and AppSense, and also gives a live demonstration of the Fujitsu VCS solution, where he shows how easy it is to move from one device and location to another and have the exact same desktop experience and personalization from anywhere, on any device.

You can watch the video over on CitrixTV by clicking on the image below:

 

Thank you to CitrixTV for filming a whole host of great videos at Citrix Synergy – I hope you enjoy them too.

Cheers

Gaz