Is PVS still the go to solution in 2022?

The IT world is full of “feuds” most of the time it is between 2 companies and/or people but in rare occasions it is within the same company. One such feud is within Citrix between PVS and MCS. For those not in the know I will give a short overview. For PVS we have to go back in time, back to 2006 when they acquired a company named Ardence. This company, which was founded back in the 80’s, had build a solution to “stream” an OS via the network to endpoints. The main reason was IOPS (or should I say the lack thereof) and image management. MCS was added a few years later as a less complex alternative which relied more on thin-provisioning philosophy and as such was not based on any streaming functionality. Now advances have been made over the years in both areas and when you check Citrix own documentation (Design Decision: Provisioning Model for Image Management (citrix.com) ) it says there’s only 3 reasons why you would choose PVS:

  1. You have a complex/multi-site deployment
  2. Requires Frequent Changes
  3. When you don’t have optimized hardware/storage

Now, scenario 3 is a no-brainer, anybody not buying modern storage/hardware should not even think about large scale RDS/VDI on-premise. Scenario 2 is also easily addressed: application layering. When all there is left in the base image is the OS and perhaps your Office 365 how hard can it be. Version management is not necessary if we do proper QA and if deploying a new base-image following patch-Tuesday is too much to handle perhaps we have bigger issues. So that leaves scenario 1 Complex/Multi-site. And even for that I wonder if we bought the right hardware/storage how much of an issue can it be. I mean, I’ve not heard from any cloud player they are using PVS or PVS like solutions so I feel there are other ways to address that issue. Furthermore complexity is a very broad definition; I’ve had customers with large scale deployments that ran into issues on network design and boot storms while using PVS so it’s not like PVS is the silver bullet. So when it becomes time again to refresh your design please approach the challenge with a 2022 mindset and not a 2000 mindset.

So yes, these days I would advocate MCS over PVS.

BTW: when you choose the right App Layering solution (read: FlexApp) you can also use the same packages for all those “pesky“ physical machines, cloud desktops or any other competing VDI/RDS solution.

Use Cases for Liquidware Stratusphere UX Expand with Latest Version Release

Last week, Liquidware,  the leader in digital workspace management, launched version  6.6  of its  premier digital experience monitoring solution. The latest version of Stratusphere UX includes the following critical features and metrics:

Windows 11 Hardware Compatibility Inventory

Last fall, Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system. The new OS places restrictions on key resource components, including CPU Clock, Core #, bit width & generation, RAM, Display size, resolution, Direct X 12/WDDM 2, & Color Depth, and Security (UEFI & TPM 2.0), among others. Stratusphere UX collects information on each one of these restrictions for each machine in the company fleet to determine upgrade compatibility with this OS. It highlights each incompatibility after evaluating it. This provides guidance for planning whether to perform in place upgrades or image refresh that would involve reinstalling applications and/or restoring data.

Stratusphere UX supports Work from Anywhere WFX scenarios with expanded metrics data

Expanded Work from Anywhere Metrics

New Work from Anywhere (WFx) metrics have been added to Stratusphere UX 6.6, including machine location, user input delay and machine local user accounts. These metrics provide detailed information as to the exact location the user on the machine is working at as well as how well their local device is performing remotely. Now, issues arising due to location & distance that could cause slow latency are easier to identify. In addition, the local user accounts data indicates whether there are multiple user accounts on the local machine, their status (enabled/disable/locked), when did they login last, and, most importantly, if any of them have administrative privileges. Local accounts with administrative privileges create a potential security issue. Domain accounts can be managed remotely but local accounts present another security attack surface that could result in leakage of sensitive data for the organization.

Dashboard Widget Enhancement

A new Sankey Diagram widget has been added to the Dashboards, displaying data relationships in a one-to-many, many-to-many, and many-to-one visualization. This widget displays the interrelation of digital workspace components including application names, process names, versions, destination IP, machines, processes, and users in a digital workspace environment.

Updated OS

As part of its continued focus on security, Stratusphere UX now runs on Oracle Linux 8 operating system that replaced CentOS 8. The new Oracle Linux 8 operating system provides widespread compatibility across virtual and cloud platforms and has universally accepted Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIG) for compliancy within FED and DoD environments.

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Liquidware Receives Award for IGEL Collaboration

Liquidware has been recognized as IGEL Partner of the Year for its Collaboration with the edge OS provider. Stratusphere leads the market with digital experience metrics for any workspace and that includes edge OS endpoints such as IGEL OS. Liquidware’s team has gone above and beyond many other monitoring solutions to design a purpose built agent for IGEL and other Linux based endpoints (in addition to Windows). Last week IGEL recognized Liquidware as Partner of the Year for our collaboration which benefits joint customers. We are delighted to be recognized by our longstanding strategic alliance partner, IGEL, for our collaboration efforts!

We’ve been working together with IGEL since 2010 and one of the main points of our collaboration has been the integration of our digital experience monitoring solution, Stratusphere™ UX, into the IGEL operating system. This integration offers IT organizations greater insight into the end user desktop computing experience and give them the visibility they need to more effectively monitor and manage desktop performance.

Subsequently, last year we jointly launched our Repurposing Desktops to IGEL OS Powered by Stratusphere UX campaign. IGEL partnered with us to help organizations benefit from the security, performance, and costs savings of IGEL OS. We provide a FREE assessment to provide clear, concise and detailed information about an organization’s desktops to assist in making an informed decision on how to best repurpose them.

Continuing our joint collaboration, we recently jointly announced our co-sponsorship of a research report from Freeform Dynamics entitled “Modernizing the Digital Workplace.” You can read the press release here that contains the links to report from both Liquidware and IGEL. To complement this report, we are hosting alongside IGEL a webinar on April 12, where the report’s author, Bryan Betts, will join us.

We are proud to work with IGEL and as super proud of this recognition – thank you Team IGEL!!

12 Reasons FlexApp Leads the Market with App Attachment Layering!


FlexApp has been the number one app attachment layering solution for more than 10 years. The innovation continues and it cannot be beat.

Here are 12 FlexApp layering innovations you won’t find anywhere else!

  1. FlexApp One – Self-contained app option that supports laptop use and deployment by any means, including Microsoft Intune, VMware Workspace One, and any cloud share. No heavy “player” or agent required.
  2. Packaging Automation – Do you have dozens or hundreds of apps? We’ve automated app packaging. Go home on a Friday, return Monday and your apps are packaged and ready to go!
  3. Compatibility – More than 90% of your apps can be delivered with FlexApp, all while keeping your base images clean and free of Windows rot. Nothing matches it, MSIX alone is estimated to cover only 30% of apps and 30% of your apps attached is not a solution.
  4. Application layering with full user environment management (ProfileUnity) – delivering advanced application delivery options including context awareness, select privilege elevation, application restrictions, registry fix up, and more!
  5. Micro Isolation – no need to stack multiple applications in single layers. Instead, a single layer is created for each application, which allows for ultimate granularity in assigning apps to users, groups and machines. This approach also simplifies updating applications by allowing you to update a single package for a single app rather than dealing with cumbersome multi-app layers. Lastly, this approach provides greater success with packaging and deploying applications, as you no longer need to deal with conflicts manually.
  6. Cloud Native FlexApps – Applications can be stored natively on any major cloud (such as Microsoft Blob storage) without the expense or complications of file shares.
  7. FlexApp Cache Mode – FlexApps cache to the local session for rock-solid performance, regardless of the quality of network connections.
  8. FlexApp Cloud Apps – FlexApp includes prepackaged cloud apps so you can hit the ground running with POCs without packaging.
  9. Disaster Recovery and High Availability – FlexApp includes its own messaging fabric and replication without requiring expensive load balancers and complicated DR plans.
  10. FastPackaging™ – While other app layering solutions can take more than 45 minutes to package even a simple app, FlexApp packaging is a fast process and occurs in about the same time it takes to install the app once!
  11. PackageOnce™ – FlexApp applications work across Windows OS versions (app support required), with no need to repackage applications for OS upgrades!
  12. Session Isolation – Multi-session Windows 10, RDS, and Citrix Virtual Apps are no problem for FlexApp, users only see and use the apps they have access to, even on the same host!

FlexApp is simply the best. If you’ve not tried FlexApp, what are you waiting for? Download ProfileUnity with FlexApp today and you’ll be on your way to efficient app delivery – greatly decreasing your total cost of workspace ownership by streamlining your image management requirements.

Meet us at HIMSS 2022! Liquidware Showcases Healthcare IT Solutions.

We’re delighted to be attending HIMSS again! Come and chat with our team of digital workspace management experts during the 5-day show (14-18 March, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL.)  You can find us on our partner IGEL’s booth #5443. You can also receive an Apple AirTag just for making and keeping a one-on-one meeting.

Liquidware delivers a digital workspace environment ideally constructed for healthcare clinicians, that includes:

  • Anytime, Anywhere Workspaces – delivered to clinicians, regardless of where they login, with ProfileUnity™.
  • Accelerating Logins – Stratusphere™ UX and ProfileUnity reduce login times to near instantaneous access to workspaces, saving precious patient care time.
  • Security – Liquidware solutions help healthcare organizations meet US-CERT recommendations to protect their workspace environments from malware and ransomware attacks.
  • Imprivata Integration – ProfileUnity integrates with providers such as Imprivata for secure single-sign on authentication, eliminating multiple logins.
  • Applications on Demand – FlexApp™ is Liquidware’s leading application layering and delivery platform enabling healthcare applications – like the ones from Epic Software – be delivered on demand without the need to be in the system’s base image.

Working in partnership with IGEL, we are helping organizations to reduce their cost of ownership by repurposing PCs with a free assessment powered by Stratusphere UX to extend the life of existing hardware assets. You can read more about the program in this solution brief.

Liquidware’s healthcare solutions are utilized across many organizations to enable next generation workspaces that meet the growing demands in healthcare IT. You can read more about the significant benefits we deliver in this white paper. And read how other healthcare organizations are using Liquidware solutions here.

We’re also co-hosting a fun go-karting evening on Tuesday March 15 – you can register here to attend.

For further information on our solutions focused on healthcare IT, please visit https://www.liquidware.com/solutions/vdi-solutions-healthcare.

Zero Day Vulnerabilities Greatly Mitigated with Pristine Desktops

The scary thing about Zero Day Vulnerabilities is that they are either unknown or there is a systematic delayed response to counter the threat. Virtual workspaces, such as those from Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware, are answering this challenge with workspaces that can easily be set to self-reset at user logoff or other interval.

Resetting virtual workspaces to the last known good image without vulnerabilities is an excellent way to rid workspaces of emerging threats such as Zero Day Vulnerabilities. It sounds easy on the surface but there is a little more strategy involved to keep your workspaces uninterrupted and users productive.

Two additional items are key in restoring pristine workspaces at login: 1) the user should be able to instantly recognize their desktop with persona settings that persist from session to session and, 2) the applications they need should be readily available.

The basics of restoring user personas’ is possible with profile tools but they have their shortcomings – often user profiles can still become corrupt and Windows user profiles are locked to a Windows version. There is also a lot of cached “junk” that typically goes along with the profile too that can increase your vulnerability risk and needlessly take up valuable storage. Liquidware’s ProfileUnity overcomes all of these challenges with enterprise ready “smart” user profiles that only contain mission critical user data, readily adapt to new Windows OS versions, and automatically restore in the event of a profile corruption.

Likewise, Liquidware’s FlexApp solution securely restores applications to user workspaces in seconds at login. When a virtual workspace is dynamically created by VMware Horizon, Citrix, etc., FlexApp automatically reattaches applications. This approach automatically deploys known good versions of the applications that users’ need to do their job. Applications are also easy to update as well and can be done at next user login (with a new pristine workspace) to avoid any user downtime. The big benefit is that base images stay pristine and clean and that’s a good way to stay ahead of Zero Day Vulnerabilities.

Zero Day Vulnerabilities are a challenge and one that looks like we’re going to be forced to live with. You can incorporate workspace strategies that will greatly mitigate and minimize your organization’s risk, including the following:

  • Deploy pristine workspaces at every login or reset them at short intervals such as every evening
  • Leverage “Smart” and flexible user profiles with ProfileUnity to ensure users’ mission critical user data is always readily available to your restored pristine desktops
  • Invoke FlexApp to reattach apps that are securely restored to the last good version to keep users productive

Reach out to our team today and we’ll assist you with a methodology that will get you started with mitigating Zero Day Vulnerabilities with dynamic workspaces.

Windows 11 – Are You Missing Out?

Microsoft is ramping up Windows 11 messaging in the news, recently claiming the new OS is being adopted at twice the rate that Windows 10 was a few years ago.*  Home and small business users may be the bulk of those early adopters if the pattern follows that of earlier OS versions.

It’s a little early for enterprises to have FOMO. That’s because experts say that most enterprises will likely wait until next year (2023).** These opinions are mostly in line with what our own enterprise customer base told us in a recent survey:

  • 12% are planning to migrate in the first half of 2022
  • 41% are planning to migrate in the second half of 2022 and
  • 41% are planning to migrate sometime during 2023
We

We recently delivered a live webinar on the topic, see and hear the recording here. The session entitled, “Formula for successful deployment and automated user migrations with Liquidware,” will cover what your organization should be doing to prepare for Windows 11. If you miss the live webinar, we’ll also post a recording soon.

What’s New in Windows 11?
Windows 11’s interface is being called “Mac-like.” This new look comes with many changes. The Start Menu and task bar are notably different and there are also new capabilities called Windows Widgets, and Snap Layouts and Groups. Just a few days ago Microsoft also introduced Android app capabilities in the latest preview. Don’t get too excited about Android apps, it’s limited because it relies on the Amazon App Store (USA only). To be clear, this is not the same as Android Apps via Google Play, which would include far more Android apps. With all of these changes, the Windows user profile is also very different between Windows 10 and 11 so upgrades are not seamless for enterprise users.

Never fear though because just this week we announced that ProfileUnity and FlexApp 6.8.4 R2 is now available! ProfileUnity remediates user profile changes from OS to OS on the fly, in seconds, enabling a zero user downtime transition to Windows 11. This version features enhanced support for Windows 11 and Server 2022. Watch the recently recorded webinar now.

Citations and further reading:

*“People are adopting Windows 11 at twice the rate of 10, OS upgrade offer ahead of schedule” January 26, 2022, WindowsCentral.com

** “Windows 11 adoption nears 9%, but businesses are waiting” Dec. 2, 2023, Computerworld.com

Of data and skill

Would you buy a full-blown fire brigade to put out a dumpster fire?

The same applies to Digital Experience Monitoring, if all you are looking for is a solution to put out a dumpster fire perhaps it’s better to hire a specialist who will have a look and help you put out the fire. But when Quality of Service means more to you than just a networking term, when it’s of strategic importance that the IT services you deliver is well received by your customers, when you want data to back up your strategic investments that’s when you start looking for Digital Experience Monitoring.

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“Here’s to the crazy ones”​

I have several inspirational quotes hanging in my office, one is from the 1997 “Think different” campaign; “Here’s to the crazy ones” especially the ending of the statement is what always keeps me going, so call me crazy and I will wear it with pride. Now the world of business is filled with these kinds of inspirational quotes like for instance Henry Ford’s “If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Always Get What You’ve Always Got” and most are from leaders that embraced change to achieve their goals. The IT industry has in the last decades perhaps seen the most of these “crazy ones”, people or companies that dared to think different.

So how does all of this relate to application layering you might ask?

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Layers make everything better

App Layering makes everything better

How would you be able to change in a world where 80% of our budget is spend on “keeping the lights on” ? Furthermore change is being perceived as scary, there might be repercussions on your decision to change so we play it safe and maintain the status the quo. We wait and look in awe at the early adopters and whenever one fails you use this as a proving point of your own fears.

It could be you’ve dared to try something new, but the first iteration was very disappointing. We’ve learned our lesson and try to categorize everything in the hype-cycle waiting for technology to pass the through of disillusionment. But after the through of disillusionment comes the 2nd generation. And this is where we are today when we look at application layering. A technology which was first broadly introduced by VMware with App Volumes, sure there were obviously others before them, but I believe VMware made the concept of layering “mainstream”. One of those early companies was Liquidware, founded in 2009, who believed their solutions should not be tied to 1 specific eco-system. That organizations should be able to benefit from their solutions no matter which choices they make when it comes to a workspace delivery. This customer and user-centric focus is the reason I chose to work here. Putting customer value over shareholder value. A wise lesson I’ve learned from one of my former CEO’s.  

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