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

August 26, 2009

This is the third 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 protocol for transferring data between the endpoint device and the server database which holds all the user personalization settings.

The change means that the Personalization Server now benefits as it has to do a lot less processing in order to insert or extract the required data from the database, and can therefore support a lot more users and even faster response times.

Part of this change is to store the user’s personalization data in a compressed format in the database, which means the required database footprint is a lot smaller (in some cases by a factor of 10).

Internal performance tests yielded the following results:

  • 87.5% increase in performance scalability between version 8.0 and 8.0 SP2.
  • 45.0% increase in performance scalability between version 8.0 SP1 and 8.0 SP2.

Note: On upgrade to Service Pack 2, User Personalization data is in the old protocol format. This data is upgraded to the new format, in the database, on demand as applications are used and such, will incur a small performance hit on first launch. However, once all endpoints are upgraded to Service Pack 2 and all data in the database has been upgraded, the performance of User Personalization will be much higher than previous releases and scalability will be dramatically improved.

As always, if you have any questions or require any further information, please do get in touch.

P:S
As this is an ever growing blog topic, the previous 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


AppSense Technical University Training For Partners

July 22, 2009

I am excited about writing this one, the much awaited 2009 AppSense Technical University is soon upon us! It will take place in October and November!!  Following on from our previous events, there are some exciting new developments at AppSense that we would like to share with you; amongst other topics:

  • User Introduced Applications (UIA) Technology – do we need, and how do we enable, users to install applications into non-persistent VDI sessions, and have the applications (and settings and preferences) remain available in the next non persistent vdi session?!
  • AppSense Management Suite Version 8.1 Product RoadMap
  • ‘Policy & Personalization’ best practices across virtual and multi OS platform environments

Uni

 

Why attend the AppSense Technical University?

The AppSense University is a ‘free of charge’ event to our AppSense Certified Solution Partners, and is a great chance to meet up with the AppSense Technical teams, as well as your peers from within the community. As a valued member of our Certified Solutions Partner program, you are invited to this comprehensive technical update and networking event.

The 2 day event will include in-depth, hands on training designed to enable you to provide consultancy services and implement the AppSense Management Suite for prospects and customers.

Register for further information

As always, AppSense is hosting several Technical University events in locations around the globe. If you are interested in attending an AppSense Technical University, click on the country or region most relevant to you and we will keep you informed of the event details:

United States, November 2009 

United Kingdom, October 2009

Norway, November 2009

DACH Region, November 2009

BeNeLux, November 2009

Australia, October/November 2009

We look forward to seeing you there!

Best Regards,

The AppSense Technical University Team.

Website: http://www.appsense.com
Email: university@appsense.com
Telephone: +44 (0)1928 793 444


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


Profile Corruption, Last Write Wins, And Profile Rollback

July 2, 2009

One of the biggest problems in a SBC (Microsoft Terminal Services or Citrix XenApp) and VDI (Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View) environment is that of the issues caused by the dreaded Roaming Profile.  One such issue which plagues both users and IT Support desks alike is Profile Corruption.

Profile corruption is seen as innevitabele when using roaming profiles, and can leave a user locked out of their desktop for hours, support desks inundated and overwhelmed with support cases, and is a huge drain on resources at great cost to a business.

AppSense Environment Manager not only prevents Profile Corruption, but also enables IT Support desks to reduce other profile related support cases from being a 2 hour resolution process, to just 5 or 10 minutes.  This not only improves user satisfaction, but makes for a more efficient, and lower cost support desk.

Profile corruption can occur through the overwriting of user settings as a user logs off from concurrent working sessions and settings made in each separate desktop try and write back to a central store.  Often overwriting each other, causing conflict, and leading to corruption

With AppSense Environment Manager, when a user launches an application, regardless of how it is delivered to a user (local install, Citrix, Microsoft App-V, VMware ThinApp, InstallFree etc…), we inject a Profile Virtualization Component (PVC) into the running process which allows any personalized settings, i.e. writes to the registry or file system, to be virtualized and therefore effectively redirected to a ‘local virtualization cache’ located on the user’s endpoint or within the user session itself (in the case of TS/XenApp).  This is an automated process, no need for manually specifying which registry keys or settings to capture. 

When the application is closed (not just at user logoff), the contents of the ‘local virtualization cache’ (only those [delta] changes made by the user during this running instance of the application) are then synchronized to a back-end database server so that a centralized copy of the user’s personalization settings is now available and able to be streamed back into open concurrent sessions or across multiple delivery mechanisms.

This eliminates the last write wins at the session level by not writing back to NTUSER.DAT at logoff. Significantly reducing the window for corruption as settings are syncronized back throughout the user session, not all in their entirity at logoff. 

So now as an additional benefit, settings can be shared across concurrent sessions as the next time the user launches the same application, be it from the same or a different concurrent session, the contents of the ‘local virtual cache’ are checked to see if the settings are up-to-date.  If they are, the user will get their latest personalization settings from the local cache.  If the settings are out-of-date, then the new delta user personalization settings for that specific application will be streamed down to the endpoint device on-demand.

With remediation tools such as Profile Rollback, application settings (which are stored in the SQL database at a per application level for each user) can be rolled back with just a couple of clicks in the AppSense console.  This takes 2 hour support calls down to just 5 or 10 minutes, and the beauty is, as the user settings are virtualized and so are not part of the desktop itself, the user need not log off their session for the rollback to occur.  Merely close and re-open the application in question..