Category: Update

RES Workspace 2015 SR2 – What’s new?

By Max Ranzau

 

Hello everyone, here is a technically digested overview of some of the features in the new Service Release 2 of RES Workspace 2015. Fair warning: These notes were mostly created from the releasenotes in the pre-release, so there may be some nuggets which did not make it into this recap. Second, this is not an exhaustive list, it’s the items which I found the most interesting and/or useful in my work.

warning, yellowOne important thing to keep in mind when doing the upgrade. If you have all agents connected via relay servers, you must reconfigure one of them to point directly to the datastore before doing the SR2 upgrade. I guess RES is probably reconfiguring the matrix changing the database schema. Then upgrade the relay servers and finally all the agents.

o016logoOffice 2016 Support. This is one of the most anticipated features in my opinion. Not only does SR2 include new User Settings templates for the 2016 suite, but it also supports Outlook 2016 for Email Template configuration. Nothing more to say about it other than it seems to work as advertised, when taken for a spin around the block in the RESguru Skunkworks.

win10logoWindows 10 Support. This one you need to pay close attention to: While Workspace seems to work swimmingly on Windows 10 in regards to User Settings, configuration and security – which in my optics usually are the most important bits – there are some things to be aware of. One such thing is creating new tiles do not take effect upon a session refresh: Users will need to log out and back in before these changes take effect. I personally view this as an issue, since we’ve been accustomed to shortcuts appearing at refresh since the early days of PowerMenu 2000. I know from my talks with the product teams they are hard at work to fix this. Workspace SR2 specifically supports the Win 10 build 10240 as of July 2015 and Win 10 v.1511 (OS Build 10586.29). Be sure to check your build/version first, by running the winver.exe command. RES tracks and support Win 10 updates as of May 10, 2016 — KB3156421 (OS Build 10586.318) for Win 10 1511, See update history here. Finally, it’s worth mentioning there is a page in the Workspace SR2 release notes, titled “Microsoft Windows 10 known limitations”. It’s two pages long so I won’t rehash it here, yet do make sure you read and understand this thing before you throw yourself into a Windows 10 project.

Aat-app-endctions: New timing option ‘At application end’ for Execute Command. This is one of those things that have been sitting on the backlog for what feels like half a century. And let’s be honest; it’s one of the features which the goonies in green have been knocking RES for not having. Long story short, this allows you to fire off Sync jobs, cleanups and whatnot upon termination of an application. It goes almost without saying to use common sense on this feature. Any app which places itself in the system tray never really terminates.

winauthAbility to specify account in console for SQL windows authentication. I’ve always hated dealing with the combination of WM and windows authentication with a vengeance. Mainly due to that it was cumbersome to make sure all the pieces line up. For example; before SR2 you had to make sure the account you were logged in with running the windows console had database access. This has been fixed, so now you can just configure the SQL windows credentials.

bypass-groupAdvanced Settings: Bypass composer setting now also supports groups. While it was useful to be able to exclude certain people from being hit by workspace manager, such as admins, it was previously a hardcoded list inside the Workspace console. By now enumerating AD groups, this allows us to control it externally. For example, we can now build a Service to request temporary admin permissions or similar elevations, one could also build a service around this for admins to request Workspace manager to lower it’s shields for a bit.

agent-csvCSV export of agents: Once you have searched for your agents, there’s now an icon in the Workspace toolbar to export a list of agents. I could see this being useful for several automated purposes. Now all we need is a command-line switch for pwrtech.exe to be able to unattend this export. If you are interested here are the headers for the export: Computer name,Run Workspace Composer,FQDN,Domain,Operating system version,Last console user,Agent version,AppGuard version,NetGuard version,RegGuard version,ImgGuard version,Laptop,XenApp version,Citrix Site,VDX Engine version,VDX Plugin version,Last contact,Synchronization status,Connection,Connects to,Relay Server discovery,Relay Server list,Relay Server name,WebGuard version.

aburnerOverall performance enhancements. SR2 has seen a boost on the performance side. Areas such as the DBcache, FileSync, Direct datastore connections, Relay Servers, authorized files / filehash imports and XenApp environments with more than 1000 published apps. Logging has been enhanced to truncate excessive repeating log entries. Essentially if something goes bump in the night more than once per minute for an hour, truncation happens. See the releasenotes for more info. Another item worth mentioning is that SR2 includes new kernel filter drivers, thus a reboot on all affected computers is necessary when installing SR2

New product packaging: Besides the above technical enhancements, there are also some major changes on the product packaging and pricing side. I’ve covered these in a separate article.

fhtNew File Hash Monitor tool: Okay so I cheated a bit and gave the official corp blog a once-over after writing this article. I noticed something that wasn’t in the original, uhm prerelease-release notes: The File Hash Monitor tool. Allow me to fill in a few blanks. Essentially this is a separate download from the RES portal here, which allows you to pick up filehashes ahead of time. When you install it, you specify a scan interval, a target CSV file and some target folders where your executables are, for example C:\Program Files\. Much like the Relay Server, a configuration tool is installed alongside a service called RESFHM. The service will start generating the CSV file within a few moments after initial configuration. The resulting CSV file looks like this:

scan

Once you have your CSV file cooked and done, you can import it into Workspace by running the console executable like this: PWRTECH.EXE /IMPORTHASHES=<your_csv_file> [/CREATEIFNOTEXISTS]. See page 386 in the admin guide.

One rather cool thing which I think should be emphasized, is the ROFHMT (please tell me we’re not going to call it that ;) has the ability to scan executables inside container files such as MSI, CAB, RAR, ZIP, etc. (see screenshot above to the right). You can add your own extensions as well and customize what tool is used to decompress them. Per default it’s set up to use the freeware 7Zip to handle these.

Commandline export of the Security log: Now it’s possible to pull out XML exports for some of the security logs. Use the console binary to run the export as: PWRTECH.EXE /EXPORTLOG /TYPE=<Logtype> /OUTPUT=<log filepath> /START=<startdate> /END=<enddate>. Currently for ‘logtype’ the following logs are supported:

Logtype value Description
APPLICATION Managed app security log
REMDISK Removable disk security log
NETWORK Network security log

Start and end dates are optional yet must be be in YYYYMMDD or YYYYMMDDhhmmss if specified. Also, make sure that the user you run the pwrtech.exe command line with, has at least read permission in the administrative roles for the security subsystem who’s log you want to export.

While it’s cool to be able to do these exports, there’s still an item left on my xmas wishlist: Will we ever be able to clear the logfiles from within the console? Doing the Workspace baseline security on a new installation, this is paramount and yet still the only way to do it is by either hacking the datastore directly or using Patrick’s excellent, yet unsupported Log Management Tool. Oh well, there’s always the next FR/SR to look forward to.

In conclusion: Overall SR2 is a solid update, well worth the subscription advantage. Besides the above enhancements and performance boosts, this update fixes 50+ issues and bugs. Good work! Read the final releasenotes here: pdffile

 

New RES product packaging, part 1 of 2

By Max Ranzau

 

packFrom 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:

  1. 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:
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

 

Bug alert: The Zombification Attribute

By Max Ranzau
Will code C# for brrraaaaaaiiiins!

 

From The Brrrraaaains Dept. Although the title might sound like a weird crossover episode between Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead, I had a super scary experience with Service Store this week. All of a sudden people attributes had disappeared from a client development environment and everyone was biting their nails the problem would propagate into production. Even the built-in People Attributes; Security Questions and Answers, had disappeared from all users when you went to their Attributes tab. What was even worse; services were failing left and right – specifically those which used any reference to #Subscriber(personattribute) or #Requester(personattribute). Looking directly into the OR_PeopleAttributes table, via SQL Studio I could see my attributes were still intact, alas something was making the ServiceStore act all gnarly and puke dayglo, while everything else seemed to work normal.

At this time of writing, I have only experienced this problem with the latest ServiceStore 2015 FR2, Update 2 AKA (8.2.2.0). I do not know if earlier versions of Service/IT store are affected. And yes, this has been reported to the Merry Men of RES Support. You’ll probably notice a new KB article over the next few days until engineering devises a fix for this.

errattr

I’ll spare you the long trials and tribulations I went through to nail this bug down over the course of a night, with only a pot of coffee and Radio Paradise for company. Let’s cut to the chase:

The problem is specifically with certain People Attributes you may define: It would appear if you define a Person Attribute of the TABLE type, with more than 6 columns defined, the problem will manifest itself at some point and your people attributes will be zombified. What specifically triggers it, is not exactly clear, however I suspect it would be when a WFA (WorkFlow Action) references the attribute. I was able to manually trigger it in a new clean database by importing a buildingblock containing the offending attribute and a dummy service.

The good news is that until the software engineers fix the problem, it is relatively easy to get rid of: Go and either delete the table Person Attribute from your Data Model, or edit it down to 6 columns or less. The moment column #7 is deleted and the table definition saved, all the hidden people attributes would re-appear.

So, now we know what we’re dealing with, allow me a moment to spin my thoughts on this: The table objects were originally created to cater for MDM, like registering something a user might have more than one of, such as mobile devices, tablets etc. Typically 4-5 fields were used for Device type, Model, Carrier, Phone#, etc, thus I can only muse that more than 6 columns might never have been attempted duing test – that is until your friendly neighborhood blogging-bull came charging through the china store and created a table attribute with 14 columns.

This concludes the alert/early warning. As mentioned, RES have already been notified, so hopefully this article will be obsolete soon.

 

Inside Workspace Manager 2014 SR2

res-wm2014-00From the Nuts&Bolts Dept. November 2014 saw the release of Workspace Manager 2014 Service Release 2. You may have read the initial post over at RES, but as always here at RESguru.com we like to kick the tires and take it for a spin around the block. There’s several items in this release that are important to know about and I’m going to highlight some and give you my view on them.

doc-icon2<<< Click here to read the article

Updated WM Registry Guide

iabtFrom the About-Damn-Time Dept. One of the most popular articles on RG is the Registry reference for RES Workspace Manager. Unfortunately it’s been sitting on the backburner for a while, but no more! As of this weeks release of Workspace Manager 2014 FR2, the guide has been updated with all published registry settings available from the base 2014 release notes and up to. If you come across missing or any other spooky settings, feel free to contribute in the comments section on the article.

doc-icon2<<< Click to view the WM Registry Guide.

 

Welcome – A letter from the Founder

Max Ranzau (aka RESguru 1)My name is Max Ranzau. I founded RESguru.com as a technical blog at the end of of 2008, dedicating my time and efforts towards creating better IT solutions through use of RES Software products in the enterprise. This site is the home of RCS – RESguru Consulting Services and is one of the primary go-to places for independent information, brain-share and tools for the workspace and automation engineers across the planet. I intend to keep it just that way.

If you are a new visitor, allow me a moment to welcome you properly, by immediately dispensing with the glossy marketeering and cut to the chase:

I am here to change Enterprise IT.

I dare to guess that plenty suit & tie jobs have said similar to you over the years. Nothing more or less, it’s the best one-liner by which it can be expressed what RCS does. Fact: it is exceptionally hard to explain what exactly and completely RES Software does in one sentence, without either becoming too vague or a long winded tale. Trust me on this, the good folks at RES Software have been grappling with this conundrum over the last 15 years: Having a stellar product suite, but no quick and singular way of explaining what it does!

I’m not going to pretend I’m driving around with the tomes of messaging wisdom* in my trunk. However, that is not going to prevent me from pitching in my two cents. As I see it, there are two main avenues of putting RES technology into context:

A) Presuming you’re technically oriented:  tbox

  • Get rid of complexity in  policy management, point-solution utilities and scripting. You know as well as I, that enough of this, or  by inheriting someone else’s hand-me-down environment, you’ll be up to your eyeballs figuring out what’s going on before you can make any changes.
  • Best profile+configuration management: Microsoft’s ways of handling configuration, both central (policies) and users (profiles) haven’t changed much in 20 years. The RES Suite will make profile management work smoothly for you.
  • Automation of complex script-less tasks across the entire IT estate, independently of domains. 150+ built in graphical tasks range from the simplest of deployment/configuration items to VDI, Mobile Device Management and Helpdesk, integrating with all the major vendors.
  • Workflows can be automated. The RES Suite will allow a company to define and execute workflows for almost anything that can be given to a user. It’s all about service. I usually tell my students that you can make workflows for giving employees their phones, forklifts or PhotoShop. It doesn’t matter as you model the business in the software, define who is qualified to automatically get or request what, assign any approvals to the workflow and then tie it all into the automation and configuration management where necessary. The real strength here is that all 3 products in the RES Suite talk together.
  • Documentation: As engineers, we just love cranking it out by the page, right? That was sarcasm! We love building great solutions but creating the associated paperwork afterwards is a hassle, even if it’s billable. For admins in terms of auditing, it’s the same challenge. The RES suite can do the documentation for you.

The RES Suite is like a well-organized Swiss Army knife, with 15.000+ blades. There are loads of other things the RES suite can do for you, and hopefully you’ll get a sense of this when you browse through the Tech Library of the RESguru site. There is over 100 and counting free practical how-to articles on how to solve common everyday problems with RES technology. Have a look at the intro page here for a proper introduction and tour around the site.

brfcaseB) Presuming you are financially oriented:

  • 60% savings on current support/helpdesk/administrative load is not unheard of.
  • 90% savings on external consultants camping in your data-center for months at a time as your own staff becomes able to do most things faster on their own. These kind of numbers been reported by some of my clients.
  • 20% more users typically on a central environment – just by virtue of efficient management.
  • No doctors with flashlights were involved in obtaining the numbers above! These are based on real RES projects that I have worked over the last 15 years. Having said that, obviously your mileage may vary in accordance with what you are trying to solve.
  • Business Processes – any organization has them. If your ever move people around, hiring or firing, the IT folks are usually the last to know, resulting in a long time before new employees can do what they’re paid to or exposing the company to unnecessary risk, by not closing down access properly when someone leaves. Sometimes I encounter customers who have custom-built and rather byzantine systems in place, some may be even manual of tossing around emails or even paper forms for approvals. As long as nothing changes you can maintain status-quo, however when the business requirements change, that’s where your costs become evident.
  • Appsense. Have you been struggling with their products for too long not being able to get things to work for you as promised? Spent countless hours having consultants in and out the door on break/fix missions? It’s time to stop and look at a Real Enterprise Solution.
  • Agility: What can be stood up in a few days by a engineer proficient in RES tech, can in most cases match and trump what would take a team of engineers using classic tools and methodology several months to implement.

The above should provide you with an decent idea of what is within the realm of the possible in the RES universe. RES technology is not rocket science, it’s just good product design and common sense for the modern enterprise. Covering the entire RES Suite, RCS offers the following on all VDI platforms, TS/Citrix, Laptops, Mobile devices, Windows and Linux environments:

  • Consulting, advisory and managed service agreements for new and existing RES installations
  • Scoping and technical presales assistance to integrators
  • Design and technical architecture documentation
  • Implementations, remote and on-site.
  • Technical competitive analysis. Here is a couple of examples.
  • Training, Education and Workshops in all RES products both online and on-site. See this for details.

For information on services, rates, schedules and anything else, reach out via the contact page , or call +1 610 462 2200. I look forward to talking with you.

With best regards,

Max Ranzau

 

RESguru Consulting goes live!

Hi everyone, it’s been a while. Plenty has been happening on Planet RES for the last few months, which why I’m here today to bring you a very exciting announcement. For me this year, the American independence day will have double meaning:

As of today July 1st 2014, I am launching RESguru Consulting as a  company. Specifically I am offering consulting, design, implementation and training/workshop options to anyone who is looking at RES Software automation, workspace or self-service solutions.

Having worked actively with RES products for the last 1½ decade, trained hundreds of consultants, admins and several instructors in the ways of the Force, I am now putting my services and experience at your direct disposal.

I am based in the San Francisco bay area, yet available internationally. For further information, call (+1) 610 462 2200, email m.ranzau@resguru.com or reach out via LinkedIn. See my profile page here, for a backgrounder and more information.

To everyone who’s been following and enjoying the site over the years, rest assured – all the content and goodies will stay up on RESguru.com and more are being added in the future.

I look forward to working with you.

Max Ranzau

 

Workspace Manager 2012 SR4 Highlights

By Max Ranzau

 

From the Look-Somebody-Had-To-Write-About-This Dept. It’s been a couple of weeks and fairly unannounced the Service Release 4 was released on Nov 11th. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in training so blogging’s been kinda put on the backburner a while. Anyway, here is an overview of selected items I found interesting in the this SR. You can download the full releasenotes at the end of this article and have a closer look yourself.

  • Several performance enhancements in both the console and the agent. Pretty much all the Composition items have received a noticeable performance overhaul and things load faster into the console in general. License processing, Drivemapping and many other things have received a tune-up. Of special notice is the Context | Directory Services, where there now is a new option to “Get group membership using tokens (faster)”. You’ll want to look into this option for multi-domain environments, especially if there’s cross-domain resolving going on.
  • The App-V integration has also seen several overhauls. When you do a Execute Command configuration|action on an App-V managed app, you now have a checkbox to run outside the virtual bubble. In application UserSettings, it’s now also possible to edit what’s being picked up in the Targeted items to capture. Previously WM would grab everything but the kitchen sink for a virtual app. User Restore of App-V items have also been improved however there’s no details as to the specific improvement.
  • A new Lockdown and Behavior option to hide log off in startmenu has been added. Let’s hope this feature isn’t on per default as hide shutdown on workstations is in SR3 (for further details, see Things WM does per default)
  • Registry modification under Composition now has the ability to ignore registry redirection on x64 platforms. This is quite useful if you want to make sure a given registry key goes where it’s supposed to without interference from the OS.
  • Special registry types like OutputReport, ReportStyle, REG_NONE are now supported. I have no idea what these do just yet, but I guess we’ll find out along the way.
  • User Settings now support a direct path for specifying the location of the Personal Settings folder. Check the releasenotes for further info. This is important.
  • Application Icons either pinned or in the startmenu have received yet another overhaul. Hopefully the old blocky icons are now a thing of the past.
  • New registry setting to control if the User Settings caching process is launched (if you’re not using laptops, use this reghack to turn it off). See the updated WM registry guide here. Note, there are several other registry items in this release under the fixes section. I’ll update the registry guide with these asap.
  • There is however one particular new setting which stands out. Look for InterceptManagedApps in the releasenotes. From SR3 Update 8, an interesting new feature has been added to preserve the original command line of managed applications. This is one to watch as it effectively will no more PwrGate.exe shortcuts. Expect a future article about this particular item once I’ve tested it.

In summary this service release is mostly performance enhancements, and the obligatory bugfixes – yet there are several interesting thing to dig into. For more information, go have a look at the releasenotes.

Click here to download:

 

 

4 new registry tweaks for Workspace Manager

registry-gFrom the Nuts & Bolts Dept. As the RES WorkspaceManager Updatepack 6 has been finished, we took the time to trawl through the release notes to see what’s been fixed. As always please remember: The RES update packs are not available for direct download and have not been fully regression tested like a Service Release is. You can request these from RES Support if you believe you are affected by one or more of the issues, or if Support recommends you to apply an updatepack. Updatepack 6 contains some rather nifty registry settings, which you can check out here in the one and only WM Registry Guide:

doc-icon2<<< Click here to view the latest registry tweaks in the guide.

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