Posts tagged: feature set

Inside the Automation Manager 2011 RC

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 6.0.0.0. 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.

Click here to download:

Which feature is in what product?

Note: This article is obsolete per Febuary 14th 2011, with the release of Workspace Manager 2011, where the product flavors have changed. Please refer to a newer article (which hasn’t been written yet, or look at the corp. website)

One of the most often asked questions we still get asked in the field after 2 years of PowerFuse 2008 is this one: “So is feature X in product Y?” Nothing wrong with that. RES decided for the 2008 series to break up the PowerFuse product in different flavors, where the main differentiators are: max. number of supported concurrent users, featureset and of course the cost. Since we’re mostly into the technical stuff here on the ‘Guru, let’s stick to the features, shall we? :-) PowerFuse 2008 comes in 4 flavors at the moment. There is currently no indication that this mix will change for 2010, although it’s not known yet how the new features in 2010 will be divided among the variants.

  • PowerFuse Express. This is a free version of the software, limited at 100 CCU’s and about 20% of the featureset (hey, you get what you pay for :-) This version will essentially help you get started with getting rid of your existing login scripts.
  • PowerFuse MyWorkSpace edition. MWS was developed to address certain needs in overseas markets. MWS edition does not have the Security (appguard etc), Reliability (cpushield and so on), Integration (Citrix, Wisdom, etc) subsystems available, but the pricing is very affordable.
  • PowerFuse Standard edition. Standard is very similar to MWS, except that we throw in a few more features. AppGuard and Removable Disk security within the security subsystem. Second it contains CPUshield and Instant Logoff in reliability. Filters and instant reports are also enabled. Finally it includes all integration options except Citrix integration.
  • PowerFuse Enterprise edition. This is the Grand Enchilada with everything including the kitchensink, blender and matching steak knives :) Enterprise gives you the full range of User Workspace Management power at your fingertips in one easy to manage console.
  • Platinum Edition. Yeah, so Citrix invented the idea of lobbing everything into one license and we are graciously following suit :) Platinum is not really a product, but it’s a bundeling offer which is currently includes both PowerFuse Enterprise edition and RES Wisdom. For more information about this and pricing informatiom, contact your local RES folks.

In order to help you get a better overview of what feature is in which PowerFuse edition, I’ve dug out a comparison chart out of the corp website. It shows a breakdown of what features are in there, what the benefits are and a checbox field for all 4 editions:

Click here to download the chart:

If you are new to the RES multiverse, perhaps comming from the SCCM side of things, it can sometimes be a bit confusing to figure out if a certain desired functionality is to be found in Wisdom or in PowerFuse. To help you find your way quicker, here’s a set of rule-of-thumbs for you:

  • If the functionality you want has to do with the computer itself, it’s Wisdom you want.  Examples of this is rebooting, installing software, printerdrivers, modifying the contens of the system drives, setting HKLM registry settings
  • If it has to do with anything within the users session, such as exposing shortcuts to installed software, mapping to printerqueues, modifying the contens of the profile or homedirectory, or setting HKCU registrysettings – then it’s PowerFuse you want to be looking at.

Where things may become a bit iffy for some, is when they discover Wisdom’s ability to provision users, and most go; “Hey, but that’s something to do with the user, why is it in Wisdom then? There is actually a perfectly good explanation for this. Creating a user is something which needs to be done on a Domain Controller, i.e. it’s not something happening within the user’s session. Basically adding a user to AD is essentially just adding a record to some database, a task which RES Wisdom is also perfectly capable of.

Second, PowerFuse has the capability to fire off a Wisdom job, based on user actions or simply event driven (logon, application launch, etc). This is actually an extremely cool feature which enables you to realize install-on-demand scenarios, as the logged in user does not have to be a local admin! Bear in mind however, that PowerFuse is not about application virtualization like App-V. The concept of PowerFuse+Wisdom integration may seem to somewhat blur the line in terms of which RES product does what. It is however quite simple when you look at it top-down: PowerFuse sits with the user in the session “layer”. PowerFuse knows how to talk to Wisdom below, which on-demand then executes machine tasks on behalf of the user in the “os” layer beneath.

To sum things up, the key difference is that Wisdom doesn’t care if the user is logged on or not, even if the target computer is turned on – as we support WOL. PowerFuse on the other hand, springs to life the moment the user initiates a session and stays with him and manages the environment until session end.