If your Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) provider is only focused on hosting virtual desktop, they are failing you. If you only provide a desktop environment to your customers – you will annoy them. If a desktop-as-a-service price only includes the cost of standing up a virtual OS instance that offering should be ignored.
To many, DaaS means outsourcing a service to make use of a virtual desktop infrastructure. Yet increasingly, internal IT departments are being encouraged, directly or indirectly, to consider their core desktop provision as a service: not simply “something that just gets done”, like toner cartridge replacement, or fixing the CEO’s son’s friend’s daughter’s laptop; on a Friday; just as you’re going home.
A “desktop service” incorporates many things. The delivery of an operating system environment: but there’s more. The provision of applications. Access to data. Creation of user accounts; the granting of access rights. Access to services such as email, file storage. Understanding what applications are used and when. The ability to print. A desktop service has a range of components that are key to delivering an environment that is reliable and cost effective.
RES Software have recently released a number of updates, new releases and patents that help put the Service into desktop-as-a-service. When considering your own enterprise desktop environment, or enhancing your DaaS offering – what tools are you using to automate delivery? Does the updated RES portfolio assist?
RES Software Updates
RES Software provide a toolset with a greater scope than simply”user virtualisation”. Latest releases include:
- RES Workspace Manager 2012: The 2011 modules for Composition & Personalization, Advanced Administration, Security & Performance are enhanced with improved scalability, support for Office 365, user context rules for Citrix Receiver and PCoIP as well as a focus on faster adoption through a range of tutorials and configuration wizards.
- RES HyperDrive: enabling anywhere access to data.
- RES Baseline Desktop Analyzer available on the Windows Azure Marketplace: allowing IT architects and desktop administrators to quickly gain visibility into their desktop infrastructures through a rich analysis of user context and desktop usage.
Both managed service providers and internal IT teams have a goal of “doing it better and cheaper“. RES Software’s recent releases help position them to be in the front running as a vendor that should be considered key to delivering you savings and scale through automation.
RES Workspace Manager 2012 – Automating Workspace Delivery
RES Workspace Manager 2012 is part of the RES Dynamic Desktop Studio. IT administrators can combine a choice of three modules to provide a consistently acceptable user experience, enhance control and compliance and also, reduce costs. The modules are:
- Composition & Personalisation – providing context–aware and centrally managed workspaces
- Advanced Administration - improving your ability to manage your infrastructure
- Security & Performance – by allowing you to deliver a personalized desktop according to your company (or your customers’) business rules and compliance
In terms of new features RES Workspace Manager 2012 has focused on scalability – to allow deliver to larger enterprises, or better support managed service providers. The relay server capabilities provide better support for complex and disparate environments and reduce the volume of network traffic. The latest release also has:
• Delivery Technology Independence: Today’s IT environments are often a complex mix of laptops, desktops, remote desktops and virtual desktops. RES Workspace Manager 2012 offers a single management tool across numerous devices and platforms.
• Desired User State Management: Focusing and managing the IT services actually offered instead of managing the user and their desktop improves efficiency and reduces costs. RES Workspace Manager 2012 allows rules to be implemented for each user’s environment, introducing predictability into the IT function.
• Context-aware Desktop Resources: allowing users to utilise the correct mix of IT services based on their location, usage needs, operating device and working environment.
User virtualisation and workspace management is an increasingly crowded bar. Yes, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware have tools for profile management, but an advantage the third party tools offer is in streamlining the configuration and deployment process, and adding auditing and delegation facilities. RES Software vie with AppSense, with Liquidware (ProfileUnity), Scense (User Workspace Management) and VirtuAll Solutions (VirtuAll User Environment Manager). You can of course, look to roll your own.
The key in delivering an effective desktop service is in selecting tools that help automate and deliver a user’s workspace and their access to application services. It is not only about instantiating a virtual desktop: how do you provide for users accessing the service from a range of devices, both inside your network, and out? Once they have access to their desktop, how are you managing requests for change in the future?
With their latest release RES Software look to deliver tools that can readily accommodate both the SME and Enterprise/Managed services customers. Where RES Software stand out is in providing tools that allow automation not only of the workspace configuration, but of user account creation, and wider image management.
RES HyperDrive – Anywhere Access to Data
Today’s organisations increasingly use a complex mix of devices. As we discussed in our article on AppSense DataLocker virtual desktop is increasingly not the only option when considering giving remote users access to data in a secure manner. The key is to be able to use a range of devices: the goal is the ability to access data.
With HyperDrive, RES have a solution to deliver “follow me data” and file-sharing. RES Hyperdrive can be configured to allow users to access their data across both on and off-premise environments. A core component of workspace delivery is access to data. Key issues in any desktop transformation project will be “where is the user data stored”, “how do mobile users get access to data”. And indeed, “how does collaboration work” because organisations very rarely work independently.
We’ll look at RES Hyperdrive in more depth later this month in the context of similar services such as Citrix’s Sharefile, AppSense’s DataNow and the likes of Dropbox, Oxygen and TeamDrive. Unless the baby comes early; in which case you’ll get it in August, with a significant whiff of Johnsons.
RES Baseline Desktop Analyzer
For any desktop transformation, you need to understand where you are before you can go forward. A common failure, or project extension for desktop transformations is a lack of understanding about what is already out there.
RES Baseline Desktop Analyzer (BDA) is a Microsoft Windows Azure-based service designed to allow a visibility of client infrastructure through user environment analysis. User context aware, RES BDA is agent-less, with its back-end configuration hosted and provided for externally on Microsoft Windows Azure.
The reports from RES BDA are aggregated through scalable Windows Azure services. This allowing you to make critical decisions about desktop transformation initiatives, like Application virtualization (App-V), Windows 7 migrations, Citrix XenApp deployments as well as VDI.
RES Software has competition: for example from Centrix, Lakeside Software, Liquidware Labs. RES BDA has an advantage in that there is no agent required (although you do need to incorporate the script into your environment), but more importantly you don’t need to host the database that contains the user and device information. Still, I’ve only ever looked at BDA for smaller scale environments, with larger customers there can be a reticence to have their data held externally.
Still, any transformation project should start with a good understanding of what it is that you have – and that function should continue into and beyond the transformation process. It is often the failure to fully appreciate what is deployed in an organisation that allows management costs to spiral.
Desktop Virtualisation is a tool, it’s the Management that is key
The delivery of desktop instances is relatively straightforward. In itself, this is a cause of escalating costs. Once that desktop (physical or virtual) is in place, how are subsequent changes managed and provided for? If the user can access their workspace from different devices – how do they actually access their applications and their data?
Providing tools to enable these functions is key. Failure to provide automation and fast, consistent delivery makes providing data and application access more costly.
Desktop-as-a-service providers need to consider the user. There is an emphasis in desktop transformation to focus on delivery and provision of a virtual and/or a physical desktop. That is the easy part. Yet, left on its own, that device doesn’t actually do anything. It is the user that does the graft, makes the effort, completes the task.
- How will users be given access to their workspace, and to applications quickly and consistently?
- How will users data be presented to them so it is available on the device they are working on?
- How does the context of the user’s device and location impact on their application delivery and their workspace environment?
Citrix and VMware have tools providing environment management – but there is currently less emphasis on providing automation for managing a user-centric experience although this is changing. Vendors such as RES Software allows your organisation to use a product that is available today.
RES Software are looking to deliver tools that utilised when your focus is on delivering better management. It is true that RES Sotware are not alone: Matrix42, Liquidware Labs, Centrix Software all have products that can give a management structure to delivering an application and data delivery service. Where RES currently has an advantage, is in the breadth of their suite and the levels of automation that the can be used.
It is considering the wider management picture and a focus on a user centric approach in terms of experience, compliance and context that is going to be key for less expensive, more dynamic application and data delivery.