ApplicationVirtualization

AppSense DesktopNow Goes Multi-Edition

ApplicationVirtualization

It appears that on December 9 of last year, AppSense, a leading user environment management (UEM) vendor, snuck out an expansion to its product portfolio. The expansion is not a new product, but rather new editions of the company’s flagship DesktopNow product, bringing AppSense into line with other vendors that offer multiple product editions with varying feature sets and prices. The DesktopNow suite is a broad set of software that encompasses UEM, application personalization, resource allocation, license control, user rights management, and many other features. For a long time, DesktopNow (and its prior incarnation, AppSense Management Suite) was pretty inflexible. You could buy the three parts of the suite (Environment Manager, Application Manager, and Performance Manager) individually, but that was the extent of the flexibility on offer.

No more, though. AppSense’s software has been criticized for being quite highly priced, and therefore unsuitable for some use cases. It has often lost out to less feature-rich products due to price point alone. But this may change now that AppSense has released DesktopNow in five distinct flavours, each differentiated by the number of “platforms” the product can be used on and by what areas of the suite can be used.

“Platform” in this context doesn’t mean operating system: it means the basic form factor. AppSense has kept this part nice and simple (a good thing, given that some DaaS providers skin Windows Server as Windows 7 and provide it as a one-to-one VDI). The two “platforms” AppSense has defined are:

  • Physical Windows desktop
  • Virtual Windows desktop (XenDesktop, View, XenApp, RDS, etc.)

The “virtual” flavour makes no distinction between RDSH-published applications, RDSH-published desktops, and full-fat client virtual desktops, which keeps everything straightforward.

Each edition of the software entitles you to use certain parts of the suite. For posterity, the main features of each part are listed below, although this is not by any means an exhaustive list:

  • Environment Manager: user policy configuration, user application personalization, profile streaming and migration, logon optimization
  • Application Manager: application management, user rights management, device license control
  • Performance Manager: resource allocation, resource control

More details on the features of each part can be found at www.appsense.com.

So, combining the platform with the different sections of the software, we get these editions:

AppSense UEM Essentials (intended for sub–1,000 seat deployments)

  • Single platform
  • Environment Manager only

AppSense DesktopNow PC Edition

  • Single platform
  • Environment Manager and Application Manager

AppSense DesktopNow Virtual Edition

  • Single platform
  • Environment Manager and Performance Manager

AppSense DesktopNow Suite

  • Multiple platform
  • Environment Manager, Application Manager, and Performance Manager

AppSense DesktopNow Plus

  • Multiple platform
  • Environment Manager, Application Manager, Performance Manager, and AppSense DataNow (AppSense’s enterprise file-sync product, separate from DesktopNow)

The idea is that each of the new editions will come in at a different price point, allowing DesktopNow to become a more compelling option for smaller enterprises that previously eschewed the software for financial reasons. At the moment, pricing can be obtained from AppSense via any of its channel partners. These new editions are currently “promotional,” although those that are sold will not be subject to any kind of expiry should the new editions be discontinued.

From a virtualization perspective, this is a good move by AppSense, and it should make a big difference for the company if the price point is competitive. What I find difficult to understand is why AppSense has kept it this quiet thus far. I’ve long heard customer complaints contending that the software is either too highly priced or that it is inflexible with regard to what can be provided within the suite. Changing to a more fluid set of software editions certainly provides customers a lot of wiggle room for getting the right product with the right set of features for their projects and budgets. It also may make DesktopNow a far more viable option for smaller projects, although whether it can ever truly compete with solutions like Citrix UPM and Microsoft UE-V, which customers may have at no extra cost, remains to be seen.

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James Rankin
James has worked in IT since 1995, spending nearly ten years as a server engineer and systems administrator before choosing to focus heavily on user and application virtualization in late 2004. Based in the north-east of England, he runs his own consultancy focusing primarily on Citrix, AppSense, Microsoft and VMware technologies. He recently received the AppSense Community Advisor award for contributions to the online USV community.

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