AppSense, for so long a presence in the VDI/RDSH market, was recently acquired by LANDESK, a company that only months later merged into another company along with HEAT software. The resultant company that comprises these various software products is now called Ivanti, and it represents quite a broad spectrum of products across a number of enterprise areas. In an earlier article, I speculated on where AppSense would fit into the new company and the changing EUC arena. Since then, I have managed to catch up with Simon Townsend, now chief technologist at Ivanti, to understand a bit more about the newly formed unit. After chatting with Simon, I collated my thoughts on Ivanti and what it means for existing AppSense users.
Of course, you may think “They’re not going to say that there are any plans to get rid of AppSense—or Ivanti DesktopNow and DataNow, to be precise—or to merge it with other areas of the product portfolio.” Indeed, but you also have to consider how much of a user base these two products already have. Within Citrix, RDSH, and VDI markets, DesktopNow is probably one of the two biggest of the high-end user management suites out there (alongside RES). Together with DataNow, it drives revenues of around $100 million annually. DesktopNow has just undergone a major version upgrade to 10.1. It is now fully Windows 10 compatible and introduces features like the Personalization Operations console, which moves the product firmly into more flexible and cloud-capable territory.
DataNow is a fairly self-contained EFSS and data-migration product. DesktopNow is slightly more convoluted, comprising four main product areas that can all be purchased separately. There is Environment Manager, which deals with policy and personalization of the Windows user session and endpoint; Application Manager, which does application control and privilege management; Performance Manager, which does resource management; and Management Center, which is a deployment, monitoring, and reporting tool for the various products.
Of course, these are now parts of the larger entity that is Ivanti. This company as a whole seems to concentrate on a foursome of stacks, as it were: asset management, service management, unified endpoint management, and security. The DesktopNow and DataNow products, for the most part, fit firmly into the UEM category. There is some room for confusion here, because for a long time they branded themselves as a different kind of UEM: user environment management. The “new” UEM, unified endpoint management, aims to combine the management of desktop, laptop, and mobile devices together in a more centralized, consumer-like model. DataNow, Environment Manager, and Performance Manager fit into this area, being primarily concerned with data management, application of policies, setting user personalization, and managing resource usage, although currently they only apply to Windows endpoints. Application Manager is the part of DesktopNow that possibly might shift away from UEM, being for the most part involved with endpoint security.
The Ivanti suite of products means that there is now a more holistic approach for the company that used to be AppSense; it is no longer just being a player within the Citrix/RDSH and VDI markets. Ivanti has an impressive portfolio of software that has patch management, asset management, service management, device control, licensing, reporting, antivirus management, and much more. Its stated focus is to automate and simplify many of the day-to-day operational tasks of IT departments and to free their staff to concentrate more on enabling the business than on performing endless rounds of routine maintenance. Ivanti’s flagship product is probably the Ivanti Management Suite, which provides a very rounded set of UEM controls around operating systems, patching, and application delivery.
Can DesktopNow and DataNow contribute significantly to this goal—this worldview—or will they remain a niche area of the Ivanti suite?
The Application Manager side of things is a no-brainer. The software has some excellent security features, like application management, privilege management, and licensing control. It is interesting that SecureWave, which for so long was Application Manager’s biggest competitor, is now part of the same stack. Combining Application Manager with the other product features they have access to, especially things like USB device control, which was long ago removed from AppSense, means that from a security perspective it makes a lot of sense.
But what about Environment Manager and DataNow?
I think that with Windows 10 arriving, there is still a lot for these two products to contribute. One of the concerns around Windows 10 is that it puts a regular overhead of testing and remediation onto IT staff that previously they only had to deal with every few years or so. Windows 10 brings a state of constant upgrading—rolling OS releases that need to be verified before release. If DesktopNow and DataNow can be used to abstract away the user settings and data so that they can be instantly restored to a user when they move devices or have a new OS image applied, then they fit nicely with the goal of freeing IT from the constraints of day-to-day operations.
And where does this leave the final two parts of the former AppSense suite?
Performance Manager, in my opinion, may remain firmly within the VDI and RDSH space, as it generally only provides value when deployed to resource-constrained systems, such as these are. This is not definite, though, because it can be used on other endpoints and even, in unusual cases I have seen, on application servers. It has for a long time been the part of the DesktopNow suite that didn’t really change much from version to version, tending for the most part to work, but given that many other areas of the EUC stack can now do similar resource management, it could find itself short of further development.
Management Center is the one part of the DesktopNow suite that I’d expect to possibly wither away and die. For a long time, I’ve seen people eschew Management Center anyway in favour of SCCM for deployment. Now that it is part of Ivanti, I think it would make much more sense for the deployment and monitoring of the various DesktopNow components to be done via a cut-down version of one of the Ivanti deployment tools. To be fair, I wouldn’t really miss Management Center too much. Aside from visibility, it has always been a little buggy and one of those “yet another console” products.
In conclusion, it seems that some of the old AppSense customers who were concerned about the future direction and roadmap of DesktopNow and DataNow won’t have too much to worry about. Certainly for the more popular parts of the suite, they seem to fit very well into the vision that Ivanti is espousing. If they can successfully align their development teams and expand the suite’s capabilities without losing touch with the core reasons their customers purchased DesktopNow and DataNow in the first place, there is no reason that AppSense’s becoming part of Ivanti should be a problem.
Thanks to Simon Townsend for taking time out to have a discussion around Ivanti and its product suite.