www.norskale.comNorskale has released v2 of VUEM, their enterprise grade User Environment Management (UEM) product.

User Environment Management is a key capability in delivering a modern flexible, reliable, and secure application delivery environment. While UEM can provide consistency across different platforms (be they desktops, laptops, or a hosted or shared virtual desktop environment), UEM is not just a technology to enable desktop virtualization. UEM can be used to accelerate logon times (improving device roaming capabilities); make migration from old to new operating systems and applications less complicated (enabling more rapid change); and can control, facilitate, and enforce user access to applications and data resources, assisting in securing environments when they are accessed outside of the maze.

Norskale believes that performance,  simplicity of use, and a low cost of ownership are key factors when choosing a workspace management product. While Norskale is a new venture, the VEUM product has been available since 2011 and does have a range of case studies and testimonies. Norksale’s goal for VUEM is to deliver a product that allows organisations to maintain user satisfaction: give extremely fast login times and a reliable and consistent environment that is easy to use. Yet, Norskale must compete against far more than Shadow, Speedy, Bashful, and Pokey. UEM is focused on managing a Microsoft Windows desktop workspace. While Microsoft has improved their tool selection, third party vendors such as AppSense, Liquidware Labs, RES Software, et.al, have an established place.

The potential UEM market is large, with plenty of pellets to go around. What does Norskale VUEM v2 offer, and how does it compare to the competition?

UEM vs Persona Management vs User Virtualization

A pertinent question to ask of VEUM is, how is “User Environment Management” (UEM) different from Persona Management, or User Virtualization, or Workspace Management? All are terms used to describe similar solutions.

User Environment Management is more than simply delivering profiles more rapidly or limiting the size of profiles.User Environment Management is a controlled and structured approach to managing components of the environment related to the user. This includes application control and application deployment, preference and policy management, and user profiles. User Environment Management can be achieved with self-scripting and self-management using Microsoft’s Windows tool-set, or it can be enhanced using third party solutions, such as VUEM provided by Norskale, to achieve a particular desired result.

Ultimately, such an explanation can be applied to Persona Management, User Virtualization, and Workspace Management. Ideally, all marketing teams from all vendors would be locked in a room with the drinks on the outside and told to come up with one industry name—but let us not hold our breath.

Your focus in choosing a suitable tool the focus is the end-user experience. Norskale VUEM’s focus is on allowing you to manage the user environment so that the experience is reliable, quick, and consistent.

Norskale are not alone in offering this.

Norskale VUEM: What is New in v2?

The new v2.0 architecture introduces a connection broker that acts as an intermediate between the
database and agents.

Norskale ArchitectureThis new component allows more security while also permitting more flexibility for global deployments.

Both the agent and broker can work offline with a local cache that is now updated using an incremental scheme.

For large deployments with constrained WAN links, brokers can be hosted at the remote sites and configured to work only on a local cache to improve performance. While our example architecture diagram shows physical desktop instances, VUEM supports traditional desktop/laptop instances, hosted desktops, and shared desktops.

Norskale states that the SQL Server component has been tested to 20,000 users. Each broker instance handles approximately 100 concurrent sessions per (v)CPU and as agents are doing just-in-time broker calls, the number of concurrent sessions is always lower than the number of concurrent users deployed.

Besides greater scalability, UEM version 2.0 offers a number of other additions including profile optimization, a maintenance mode and CPU clamping.

VEUM has always been relatively straightforward to set-up. Besides ensuring that your .NET versions are correct on the server and clients, component installation is simple. Configuration of clients is managed via an Active Directory policy file. The broker configuration is an extra step, but not an onerous one; a question may be where to site this component, and could it be done without? Note the Broker Service installation is not supported on a Domain Controller.

 

The UEM Market

In considering the wider User Environment Management market, I’d recommend reviewing User Environment Management Smackdown from PQR. Ruben, Aaron, Peter, and the rest of the A-Team are doing a great job in maintaining this document. I recommend it as a resource not just for its comprehensive technical comparisons, but also for the background reasoning for the importance of UEM and the strategy you should consider when assessing a solution for your organisation’s needs.

If we borrow the team’s comparison chart, spit on the hanky, and give its face a clean, we can see that VEUM v2 ticks more boxes than the v1 version. A VUEM 2 license is a per-user perpetual license – and includes the first year of maintenance, per named user. At the time of writing list price was $38.

Vendor Product  User Profile Management User Personalization Application Access Control User Rights Management Resource Management License Management Application Delivery Monitor,Audit and Report
AppSense Management Suite 8.x
Citrix User Profile Management 3.x
Dell Quest vWorkspace
Immidio FlexProfiles 7.5
LiquidwareLabs ProfileUnity Pro 5.x

 
Microsoft GPO,GPP, USV  
Norskale VUEM v2.0  
PolicyPak PolicyPak Professional 3.0
RES Software Workspace Manager  2012

 
Scense User Worksapce Manager 7.6  
Tricerat Simplify Suite 5.5    
VMware Persona Management

Norskale: Complexity Busters?

Norskale is an effective UEM solution. Bust complexity? There are small number of components, database, broker, agent. The configuration of agents is by GPO. It could be less complex – Liquidware Labs doesn’t rely on Microsoft SQL, which makes for a simpler environment; the broker component allows greater scale but there doesn’t appear to be an option to not have it.

Perhaps the most important question for a new company is, how will Norskale tempt the market? Can the team deliver regular updates and new features? The code team is growing, which should allow for development and support. But, the $38 license fee is not at the lower end of the scale in comparison to competition. There is a benefit in working with a new company in that it is more likely you will be able to influence the product direction. Yet, there is also the concern, what is the track record for support? Here, the fact that a new company is not selling a brand new product helps, in that there is an installed user base and there is experience.

That said, the configuration of filters and conditions (to define when rules are applied) and the assignment of actions to users (with optional filters) is straightforward with a clean interface. The modelling wizard lets you understand what rules are applied to users.

Yet, and this is a common UEM issue, the process of migrating your legacy mess of settings, scripts, and options is tedious; there are no magic wizards to perform this task. So, while once your environment is configured, it will be likely easier to manage, getting to that stage requires navigation through a maze. Still, all magic has consequence.

To take a look at a fully featured 30-day eval, visit the Norskale site http://www.norskale.com/norskale-try-it.

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Andrew Wood (144 Posts)

Andrew is a Director of Gilwood CS Ltd, based in the North East of England, which specialises in delivering and optimising server and application virtualisation solutions. With 12 years of experience in developing architectures that deliver server based computing implementations from small-medium size business to global enterprise solutions, his role involves examining emerging technology trends, vendor strategies, development and integration issues, and management best practices.

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