From the Packaging&Shipping dept. Today some major changes were announced on the product packaging side. While it doesn’t affect the technical operations of the products (sorry, the unified license server is not there yet), it does have conceptual impact, which we all would do well to wrap our collective gray goo around. This is the first part of a two-phase announcement, the second one is coming out on May 24th next week during Synergy. Let’s run through the most important bits of the first announcement to understand what’s going on here. The headlines are as follows:
WM and AM are merging into one product. This means that the current stand-alone product Automation is going to be part of Workspace. Again the consoles aren’t merging, this is just a licensing and naming change:
Free RES Core for Workspace. This is essentially just the consoles plus basic functionality, like we’ve seen in the earlier Express versions of Workspace Manager and PowerFuse. For example Core has UserSettings, however only at the global level. If you want the per-app user settings, you will need the new Composition module. See item 4 below.
No more metal versions. The old Bronze, Silver and Gold names have gone the way of the Dodo. This is a good thing, because it means you can now mix and match the editions without having to start out with the mandatory Bronze (configuration and user settings).
Workspace will now have 4 modules:
Composition – Same as always (application based user settings, console configuration, app/shortcut management). This is what used to be in the old Bronze more or less.
Security – This includes the well-known managed app security, dynamic privileges/process elevation , network security, etc. One thing I didn’t see on the list was Read-only blanketing, however we’ll have to see if it’s still in there.
Governance – New name for the module formerly known as Advanced Administration. Contains administrative roles, usage tracking, auditing performance components and license management of managed apps.
Automation – This is essentially Automation manager lobbed into the mix as a WM module, where desktop is licensing is inferred, however these are still licensed separately per desktop and I’ll have to presume that any needed servers in the mix are still being licensed differently than desktop. Acording to RES, Automation also comes with some (as of yet undefined) predefined building blocks.
Pricing. The MSRP still holds at $€30 per named user for all modules, with the exception of the free Core. However, it still remains to be seen if RES will be offering a bundling discount if you purchase the whole Workspace product.
According to RES Marketing, these changes are scheduled to go into effect early July 2016. Finally as indicated above, this is the first of a two-part announcement, the second going official next week during Synergy in Las Vegas. However it goes without saying that Service Store was not mentioned above. I will also be investigating what the new Suite with everything will look like. Stay tuned!
From the There-we-fixed-it Dept. I guess this is one of the few downsides of living on the California coastline – the bloody 9 hour time diff to Europe! So while I certainly can't be the first to tell you about breaking RES news, I can at least fill in the blanks. Just think of me as Wolf Blitzer in his pyjamas :-) Aaaanyway, today RES Software released the Service Release 2 of Automation Manager 2012. This update and full installers can be downloaded from the RES Support Portal as usual. So what's in the box then? Well, besides the usual staple of fixes there's a handful of interesting enhancements:
Conditions in AM now support for Windows 8 and Server 2012.
Just like Worksspace Manager which can fill in it's tables into a pre-existing, empty database, AM can now do the same. This is great for situations where you are fresh out of bullets and the onsite DBA won't let you create a datastore for your pilot.
Finally AM now also has uppercase and lowercase functions. These are now known as @UPPER[()] and @LOWER[()]
A new global setting has been created to disable/enable the existing RunbookWho functionality. This setitng and associated $[runbookwho] parameter was created earlier to allow you to specify at scheduling what agent(s) should execute the runbook. See the releasenotes for further details.
The exchange mailbox task has been updated to support creating alternative email addresses on Exchange 2010 which stores these on the Exchange server and not in Active Directory as previously.
For more information, have a look at the releasenotes here:
From the sideline comments dept. Just before xmas Brian shares his view on what’s important for vendors in relation to Desktop Virtualization. I’m not going to recap his article in total, you can read it here. What I wanted to comment on specifically, is that it’s really nice to have been working with a vendor for 11+ years now, who all along has been doing what the good Dr. Madden orders today! :-) While we originally back in the late ’90s started out being a product only for Terminal Services/Citrix environments, RES products were kept in tune with the times and trends to embrace all windows platforms: Workstations, Laptops and Server Based Computing – what I referred to as tri-platform support back in the day.
With the emergence of virtualization, first on hardware, then later on applications, it was possible for RES to add 3 more innovative dimensions to that picture:
Early VDI Workspace support: RES Software actually didn’t have to change much, if anything in the Workspace Manager (back in the day known as PowerFuse) to support VDI. As the Workspace Composer runs inside the user’s session, seen from a technical perspective of the product, it’s running on a workstation OS, which just happens to be accessed as a terminal server through RDP, HDX or whatever. In other words, all the goodness which Workspace Manager offered already for Laptops, Physical workstations and Terminal servers, was available for VDI from day one.
First App-V integration: RES was TRUTHFULLY, THE VERY FIRST VENDOR who worked proactively with the Grand-Daddy of all application virtualization technologies, SoftGrid by Softricity – now known as App-V by Microsoft. Since then, we’ve adapted to support pretty much every major App Virtualization platform out there. Application virtualization is an important piece of VDI as it will allow you to have more apps to co-exist in the same image. Using the workspace manager to differentiate access to these apps, you can litterally cut down your VDI configuration to one golden image per operating system. Look out for an article on this topic later.
First Reverse Seamless provider: Back in the day, RES had this little – relatively un-noticed – sidecar utility to the Workspace Manager, known as the RES Subscriber aka Workspace Extender. These were the first implementations of Reverse Seamless Windows. Few people saw the potential early on, but I’d like to highlight a specific video, made by my former colleague Rick Eilenberger, that demonstrates what it was able to do already then in 2007. It was known as the RES Subscriber. The technology later licensed by Citrix, evolved to a stand-alone product, known as VDX. For more information on VDX, go read here.
The only thing we’ve left alone in regards to virtualization, is so called ‘User Virtualization’. This is some sort of horn which the Usual Suspects likes to blow (and do I mean blow… ;-) To my experience, the concept of virtualizing the user makes no sense at all. The user is the only real “object” in the entire getup anyway. Sure, hardware is quite real too, however unlike the behavior of users, it’s behavior is way more predictable, hence virtualizing it is relatively easy in comparison. This is one of the reasons why I believe the idea of redirecting the profile to a database is a flawed concept to begin with. You want as fast and reliable access to your settings to your settings as well as your documents to cater for the user’s sometimes erratic behavior. This is why the RES Workspace Manager was built with purpose to store User Settings in the same manner as User Data is stored; in a location which is unique and readily accessible to the user.
With the ever-growing adaptation of Cloud Computing into the Enterprise space, the profile game is a-changing. Boatloads of other pundits have been describing in vivid detail how users will demand access to their settings virtually anywhere. One way of dealing with this is to provide ACCESS from anywhere to a centralized solution. Citrix have been doing this for well over 20 years. Thing can however quickly become harrowing if changes the user makes should follow them between different infrastructures (different server farms, operating systems or even different laptops). This is where an intelligent and granular approach to handling user settings is required. If you are contemplating storing your settings only in a standard SQL database – or on a fileserver for that matter you are asking for trouble, or at the very least unnecessary complexity. I’ve discussed this previously in this article.
Anyway, while the usual suspects are duking it out on the commentary section over on BM, RES Software is ready to take on the new year. Stay tuned to this blog for even more tidbits and useful info in 2012! Happy new year everybody.
This article was written on Saturday last week after Citrix Synergy. Wow..! That’s simply the best I can currently can come up with, as I’m unwinding at the Gloria Ferrer vineyard with my better half in Sonoma, enjoying a bottle of ’99 Carneros Cuvée, after an intense week of Synergy 2011. If you follow my tweets, or have read Bill’s post-synergy article, you’ll know we had an overwhelming response to our booth demos and the brand spankin’ new Baseline Desktop Analyzer cloud-service, which will be available for FREE July 1st. During Citrix Synergy, my buddy Gabe Knuth from TechTarget tracked me down for an interview to get the scoop on this new offering. You can see the interview in details by clicking on the video above.
Parts of the video demo may be slightly hard to see, so let us dive a bit more into the Baseline Desktop Analyzer, or BDA as we refer to it shorthand. It’s essentially a free service to give customers and integrators the ultimate overview of the current state of affairs in their IT environments before embarking onto new projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s WinXP->Win7 migration, Physical to VDI, XenDesktop, XenApp, VMware View etc. The situation is a bit like navigation on the high seas: Where ever you are going, you need to get your bearings before you set sail in any direction.
To better prepare yourself for the journey and using DBA, you’ll do well by studying this article. Click here to read it.
From the Guru Bootcamp dept. During 2010 we’ve all been witness to how the product portofolio at RES has expanded. Also there’s been plenty of new functionality added to the existing products, hence the training offerings needed to be changed accordingly. RES Training recently announced changes in the training and certification courses to it’s channel. I’ve summarized some of the highlights here and added a Training FAQ section below.
Note: This article has been updated Feb 17th with links to syllabus for the new courses and additional entries in the FAQ section.
From the new hotness department. Today, December 6 2010 – RES Product Management announced the preview availability of a the long anticipated RES Virtual Desktop Extender aka. VDX. The VDX product allows you to add Reverse Seamless Publishing capability to any TS/Citrix/VDI environment.
The cool bit is that this release is a stand-alone version, which means you do not need to have the RES Workspace Manager installed in the datacenter end of things. The preview is available to current partners and customers though the support portal. Just log in with your credentials and browse the treeview, where you will find it at the bottom as shown here.
As mentioned, the current tech preview demos the stand-alone capability. An RC is expected to be released mid Jan, which will have optional integration capability with RES Workspace manager.
Note1: The techpreview expires on March 1st 2011, so expect to see reviews of this stuff soon.
Note2: If you are not a current customer/partner of RES, please contact the friendly folks in sales and let them know that you are interested in VDX.
From the new-hotness dept. Today, November 1st 2010, RES Product management announced the Release Candidate of the RES Automation Manager 2011 (formerly known as Wisdom). It is now available for download for SA customers through the portal. The version number for this release is 184.108.40.206. The main areas of improvement are centered around the Service Orchestration module, Scalability, Integration, Security and compatibilty.
This update is massive, i.e. the enhancements are too many to mention here, although they are all covered in the releasenotes, available for download below. I would however like to highlight a few items which may be of interest to you, especially in regards to licensing as these things have changed with the latest release:
License cost for PC’s cut in half. From this version, a workstation now only charges 0.5 licenses. This due to the fact that Automation Manager now supports the service orchestration pack. If you upgrade your exising Wisdom installation to Automation Manager, you will notice that your license consumption on workstations will be half of what it used to be. You’re welcome :-) Note that servers and terminal servers still are charged 4 and 8 licenses respectively.
New licensing for small business servers: A new connector type has been added, which allows you to use a domain controller, a SQL server and an exchange server on one box. Where up until now this combo would cost 50 licenses in order to enable existing connector licenses (SQL:1 + Exchange:16 + DC:32), the new Small Business Server connector will enable all 3 on one box, charging 33 licenses, saving you 17 licenses for something else.
Service orchestration now a part of Autmation Manager: From this version onward, the service automation module shares the Automation Manager database and thus the license pool also. So how’s service orchestration charged then? 0.5 license per serviced user. What’s a serviced user then? It’s a user to whom a orchestrated service is delivered. In other words, suppose you set up a service, such as an app the user can request to have installed, then 0.5 licenses is draw from the Automation Manager license pool when the service/app is delivered by Automation Maanger. If the service is returned (i.e. the app is uninstalled), then the 0.5 license is returned to the pool. I’d say that’s a quite fair model. Watch this blog for another article on Service Orchestration later.
Be sure to visit the updated Automation Manager licensing 101 article which is available here. This article contains a calculator which will help you figure out how many licenses you would need.
Besides the above changes to licenses, there are several other important improvements worth mentioning, although most of these have been available in the interim versions of Wisdom that have been available throughout this year. Anyway, if you’re not on the Early Adopter program, these items will likely be of interest to you:
New Engines node in the console: From this version the console node formerly known as Dispatchers has been renamed to Engines. Reason for this change is that once you install the Service Orchestration module for Automation Manager, you’ll also be able to monitor the status of the Catalog Services and the Transaction Engine, besides the regular dispatchers.
Master Dispatchers: This is a pretty cool way to manage large-scale environments where you have a requirement for multiple dispatchers on a remote site. You may also have a situation on your hands where setting up a replicated datastore is not an option. Setting up the Master Dispatcher allows dispatchers on a given site to talk to another dispatcher instead of talking directly to the datastore. Configuring this involves setting up 3 registry keys. There’s currently no GUI for this. These are described on page 4 of the releasenotes. Click the illustration on the right for a visual explanation of how the master dispatcher fits into the big picture.
Job notification via email and SNMP: In Automation Manager 2011 it is also possible to configure alerting, very much like you know it from PowerF.. erm, Workspace Manager. The SNMP integration does not require installation of SNMP agents. Supported SNMP versions are v1 and v2c. The .MIB (Management Information Base) file, is located where you initially deployed your Automation Manager Console under %programfiles%\RES\Automation Manager (or ..\Wisdom if you’ve just upgraded).
Ability to tweak Wake-on-Lan options: You can now change in Global Options what port WOL packets are sent on, default is 3163. Also you can tweak the default behavior which is sending to the 4×255 broadcast address, and instead send to a specific target subnet. See page 7 of the releasenotes for details.
Enhanced SSH script support: Automation Manager can now use sudo, which is the UNIX equivalent of runas. Also, instead of executing a SSH script line by line, the script can be created in it’s entirety in the users homedirectory on the target system.
Support for more Microsoft and Citrix environments: MS Exchange 2010, SQL Server Native Client 10.0, Windows 7 and Server 2008R2. The exchange support is especially cool as it will allow you to move mailboxes from say Exchange 2003 to 2010. Note however that such a job must be run on the Exchange 2010 box. Also worth mentioning is the ability to support Citrix Workflow Studio. By enabeling this integration existing workflow users will be able to take advantage of the advanced scheduling and conditional execution of Automation Manager. Existing RES customers will be able to take advantage of the Citrix-specific tasks available through the Workflow Studio.
Query Evaluators: This is a very interesting piece which will alow you to make conditional executions based on the result of a given query. For example – if diskspace is less than 10% run a task to clean out the %temp% folder etc. Currently query evaluators are only supported for the following queries: Computer Properties, Disk space, Installed programs, Service properties, TCP/IP properties. I’m sure we will see more of these in the future. The important bit is that every query evaluator is different and, as a result of a query you can set a given module parameter to any value. The idea is that you can then use regular Conditions to check on the value of these further into the modules.
The above is just a few items I picked out from the stuff included in this major release of Automation Manager. For the complete picture, make sure to have a look at the releasenotes, which you can download right here.
From the extended department. If you are new to RES technology, you may or may not have heard about the VDX product that has got everybody’s talking. In short it enables you to run local apps as part of a remote/virtual desktop coming from TS/Citrix/VDI etc. For those of you familiar with Citrix terminology, it’s best described as reverse seamless windows, for which RES Software holds a patent. and I’ve previously created an article here, which describes how to setup a nice demo of VDX.
Recently however, RES has produced a nice short video which explains the concept. You can view this video below or check it out in the VideoVault alongside the 3 new videos which have been added today.
Currently VDX is a part of the RES Workspace Manager. Do keep in mind however, that in RES will launch a stand-alone version of VDX in January 2011, which will enable you use this technology as a stand-alone component.
From the van Gok department. You may recall some time before the corporate makeover, that RES Software shared some wallpapers with the community. Now that those wallpapers are obsolete, I am pleased to be able to share the new ones with you which look like this. Feel free to use them in your demo labs or whatever.
Below is a link where you can download the new wallpaper set. The package contains the wallpaper shown above in a variety of different native resolutions.
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