Baselining the User Experience and Defining a Measure of Success with Stratusphere UX

For over 25 years we’ve seen innovation and change in many areas of information technologies. For example, the shift from monolithic mainframe to distributed microcomputer-based computing. Networking has been completely reborn and wireless technologies have enabled pervasive access for all. Telephony is no longer a dedicated infrastructure and voice is simply another data type. All of that aside, there is a core segment of IT that has yet to ‘fully’ shift and emerge in a new and meaningful way. This segment is the user workspace.

IBM_KeyboardDon’t get me wrong, the desktop systems we have today are substantial more powerful and feature-rich than those IBM Model M ‘click’ keyboards we sat behind in the late 80s and 90s. And we certainly have newer approaches to deliver, manage and operationalize those systems—whether that be VDI, or some other host- or cloud-based workspace delivery approach. But for the most part, we still rally around the machine itself; especially as it relates to the user experience.

It’s Not Really the Machine

At the end of the day, whether we are delivering physical desktops, server-based end-user workspaces, or Desktops as a Service (DaaS) from the cloud, the shift from a machine-centric approach to a user-centric approach has yet to occur. Of course we have gained considerable experience in alternative Windows-based workspace delivery approaches. No one would doubt that fact. But how many of you still define success based purely on machine key performance indicators. One of the core differentiators and approach taken by Liquidware Stratusphere UX is the ability to provide user-centric visibility.

Think about it… The rollout of a new application. The deployment of the latest version of Windows. The creation of a golden image tied to a corporate laptop standard. The platform or architectural update of your VDI solution. All of these are a means to an end. Right? The common thread through all of these examples is the user. From the users’ point of view, all of what we manage is merely a step along the path. Yet most of us define a measure of success based upon on these incremental steps.

Hardware Assessment vs User Baselining

The majority of IT professionals see the value in an assessment to understand sizing and design considerations for an infrastructure, including an examination of metrics such as aggregate totals for CPU, RAM and storage. Further, most see the value in the visibility into how users naturally group, such that a measure of user tiering and an application strategy could be determined. These are excellent steps in support of designing and building the infrastructure as well as helping to cast the correct image and application delivery strategy.

But what about the user and measurement of their relative performance over time, during a platform migration or as a means to validate a change in how Windows is delivered? One reason customers choose Stratusphere UX is to determine if their current workspace consumption is suited to being transitioned to a next generation (physical virtual, or cloud) workspace. User baselining and on-boarding answers those questions and sets the stage for successful workspace projects.

LWL-Stratusphere-UX-User-ValidationBeyond the assessment—which is critical for platform, architectural and image (application) design—Stratusphere UX can also be employed to baseline the user experience as a means to on-board users. User experience is a tricky thing. It’s difficult to quantify and it can also be incredibly subjective; varying widely from user to user. As difficult as it can be to quantify, there are ways to measure it and Stratusphere UX provides everything you need to support the creation of user baselines.

Baselines are useable in a number of ways, but most importantly, they’re a real world benchmark you can use to validate that your transformation project is on target as it progresses from a proof of concept to a production environment and beyond. A key way that baselining is very useful, is in the establishment of ‘thresholds’ of normal or acceptable performance. Subsequently, if measurements of the new workspace fall outside of normal thresholds, it signals that issues may be developing—this is a cornerstone for user-centric monitoring and diagnostics.

Stratusphere UX and Your Next Workspace

Regardless of where you want to go, it is critical that you define some user-centric measure of success. How else would you know when you are done? How would you define a KPI or SLA to showcase completion of the project? Surely you don’t define success simply because the help desk phone isn’t ringing. A few months ago, I wrote about putting user experience at the center of the workspace—examining and trending performance and consumption metrics based on the user (versus infrastructure or APM-based trending that primarily focus on the hardware and platform).

User-Centric Visibility

User baselining is the enabler to support the shift that is occurring in the user workspace. In addition to a hardware assessment, capturing the baseline is critical to ensure you provide an equal-to-better user experience when making any changes to the user workspace—again, regardless of physical, virtual or cloud-delivered.

Liquidware Stratusphere UX provides the visibility necessary to baseline the user experience and define a measure of success for your organization. I’d love to hear how you leverage user-centric information and metrics to measure success in your workspace projects. Please share! And contact us to provide some details about your desktop virtualization project; we’d love to provide you with some free licenses to get you started on your own shift to leverage user experience baselining.

Application Layering VS Operating System layering

Managing desktops is always one of the main struggles facing enterprises. Add in complex application management and the issues increase drastically. Software solutions are often geared towards relieving this pain. Over the last few years, the concept of converting the … Continue reading

Citrix Synergy 2017 Round Up! Citrix App Layering, FlexApp Layering, Monitoring, & More!         

Citrix Synergy 2017 is still fresh on our minds. If you didn’t make it to Orlando this year here is a look our experience.

dsc_1103.jpgI cannot recall a more enthusiastic attendee crowd at a Citrix Synergy! This year many attendees seemed to make a beeline for our booth. Maybe it was our re-brand to “Liquidware,” or latest version of FlexApp Layering and demos of XenApp Session isolation – and how it compares to Citrix App Layering, or perhaps it was our involvement in becoming one of just a few select M7 party sponsors. Let’s breakdown the highlights.

Liquidware Labs chose Citrix Synergy to announce to the end user computing marketDSC_1097 that we’re now simply “Liquidware.” The time for VDI experimentation in the industry has come to an end. Now more than 1,700 organizations using Liquidware solutions in production to run their physical, virtual, and cloud based desktops. We gave out cold hard cash to celebrate. Everyone that participated won a minimum of $1 and many people won a lot more! Look at this attendee that won $100! Using Liquidware solutions is like money in the bank!

We also announced several new features for FlexApp layering at Synergy. If you have not checked out FlexApp you are doing yourself a HUGE disfavor. We encourage you to try Citrix App Layering first, if it does not work for your needs you should check out FlexApp! Unlike Citrix App Layering, FlexApp truly decouples apps from the underlying operating system. With this approach, applications are not prone to “breaking” with OS update and changes. You can truly package most apps once and they work across OS versions as long as they are the same bit (32/64). And yes, FlexApp can layer complicated applications with drivers and services too. When you choose FlexApp, you can go on building and maintaining your base OS images with Citrix PVS or MCS just as you always have and let FlexApp do its thing to layer apps just in time just after user logon. In the forthcoming version, FlexApp Layering will deliver apps to Citrix XenApp users with session isolation…or on a per user basis without affecting other user’s sessions. Industry first Click-to-Layer capabilities were announced too, enabling users to get FlexApps on demand just by clicking their icon on the desktop. If a user doesn’t need an app, it’s not delivered, it’s that simple. If you don’t have time to compare Citrix App Layering to FlexApp, we’ve done it for you. You be the judge.

Furthermore, we announced that we’re extending ProfileDisk features to Citrix XenApp users. ProfileDisk will now support multi-session XenApp sessions and each user can get their robust profile from VHD! This takes care of Office 365 use cases where the profile can be very large due to Outlook and OneDrive caching and sync. ProfileDisk automatically takes care of Outlook, while our VHD profile containers can easily keep the current sync of OneDrive, Dropbox and more. This gives a quick logon without bloating XenApp servers and we’ve long supported XenDesktop in this capacity.

Stratusphere UX was prominently on display as well, we were showing off the latest reports, discussing the ease of scalability to deployments with thousands of users, and revealing new agents for Mac OS to close friends. NVIDIA asked us to show off our latest GPU metric and reports in their booth and our very own Chris Walker attracted quite a crowd! stopped by and interviewed us about what we were showing as well. Here’s their 3 minute video overview. 

DSC_1124Liquidware was one of just  a few exclusive vendors to sponsor the week’s most sought after party, the M7 Partner event. The M7 are a group of key Citrix partner integrator that lead the way in selling, consulting, and implementing Citrix and Liquidware solutions. We were happy to step up and be a major sponsor this year in the absence of other vendors that were absorbed by acquisitions this past year. The competitive landscape for User Environment Management, Application Layering, and Monitoring has changed dramatically in the past year and Liquidware continues to lead on all three fronts. If you haven’t given our Workspace Environment Management solutions for physical, virtual, and cloud a try yet you need not wait any longer. Download and try them today.