Citrix Acquires Norskale

Citrix announced yesterday that Norskale will become part of the XenDesktop suite and will now be known as Workspace Environment Manager (WEM). That’s exciting news for those who have felt that the current Citrix user personalization solution, User Profile Management (UPM), is not quite sufficient for their needs.

User Personalization: sepago Style

In 2008, Citrix acquired the source code for what became User Profile Management (UPM) from sepago. In those days, many were using standard Microsoft roaming profiles. User profile corruption was the norm—and extremely frustrating. User profile corruption was common when users accessed applications from multiple servers and made changes within applications that had a downstream impact on the user profile. Even today, roaming profiles are largely inadequate and deficient in many ways.

The sepago solution provided a more detailed means to address the shortfalls of roaming profiles based on GPO customization and was bundled as part of the Citrix solution. However, much has changed with technology, applications, and user requirements in the past eight years; limited enhancements to UPM since the acquisition have caused it to become a mediocre solution.

User Personalization: Norskale Style

Not only does Norskale provide an excellent user personalization solution, but it inherently integrates with the existing Citrix User Profile Management solution. As a result, those who want something better than Microsoft roaming profiles and those who have already implemented UPM will have a top-notch user personalization solution. The existing Norskale integration with UPM is key. Those who have already adopted UPM will be able to easily absorb it without a major upgrade or migration, because users absolutely hate profile changes. Thus, the acquisition of Norskale was a smart, logical, and strategic move for Citrix.

The new Workspace Environment Manager component will be included as part of the Enterprise and Platinum editions of XenApp and XenDesktop, based on active software maintenance. As a note, software maintenance is a premium service offering based on the entitlements for subscription advantage (new version licensing) and technical support.

As a result of the acquisition, the mastermind behind Norskale, Pierre Marmignon, will become a Citrix employee, as will his team. Many in the industry know Pierre not just for his excellent work developing Norskale, but also for his numerous Citrix community contributions over the years.

Some work is necessary in terms of rebranding the product to fit cleanly into XenApp/XenDesktop, so embedding Norskale into XenApp and XenDesktop will not happen immediately upon announcement. However, Citrix expects to complete that effort and make it available within a few weeks.

In addition to a product that works well, Pierre designed Norskale with an easy-to-use interface that has greatly contributed to its success. Unlike other user personalization solutions, extensive training isn’t necessary for administrators to use the product effectively.

Until now, Thin Client Computing had been the US master distributor for Norskale’s VUEM (VirtuAll User Environment Manager) product. Steve Greenberg commented, “This is the perfect marriage of products …We’ve tried them all and we’ve implemented them all, and it’s by far the best product. It takes the customer implementation to its completion.”

From a user experience standpoint, Norskale is a win for Citrix because logon times are reduced and application response times are improved. Although users don’t typically understand or appreciate the back-end systems, fewer help-desk calls are generated.

The Norskale acquisition raises the bar on the end user experience, and this acquisition provides Citrix with a solid response to VMware’s acquisition of Immidio last year. Prior to both acquisitions, Norskale was generally viewed as the superior product.

Wait…There’s More

Of course, Norskale is not just a user profile solution. As part of the acquisition, Steve highlighted that Norskale’s Transformer is “also an outstanding desktop product.” It provides an easy-to-use solution for transforming user computers into thin client devices based on lockdowns. As a result, inexpensive or older Windows devices can still be managed and controlled as part of the corporate domain, yet the available user functionality equates to thin client devices.

This acquisition truly represents a universal win for Norskale, Citrix, and customers. Norskale has an excellent reputation in the industry, and customers will benefit from bundling the user environment solution with XenApp and XenDesktop. Citrix has acquired outstanding technology that is a superb fit to address user needs. Win/win for all!

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