Keeping Multi-Platform Hybrid Desktop Environments Optimized

Over the years, succeeding versions of Windows OS have consumed greater levels of resources, particularly CPU and RAM. This trend is not surprising, as each new version needed to support a wider set of more robust applications and features.

Through the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft introduced new versions of its operating systems on a roughly three-year cycle. However, with the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft changed its OS release schedule. Every six months, Microsoft releases a major update to Windows 10. Below you can see a timeline of Windows 10 releases for the past few years. With this schedule, the shelf life for a new Windows 10 version has become roughly 18 months. Moreover, each succeeding version has consumed greater amounts of CPU and RAM – as well as fluctuating levels of IOPS.

As Microsoft continues its Windows release schedule, new processes are likely to be introduced, and every image iteration can introduce variations in the environment. Process Optimization is designed to automatically address these changes to keep workspace performance feeling smooth for users until new images are composed and distributed.

Today’s workspace users will not only use more applications, these applications will also be more resource intensive. One trend driving application consumption is the emergence of large vendor “stores” that provide easy distribution for curated applications.

A good example is the Microsoft store. Currently this site offers users upwards of 600,000 applications that run the gamut of professional specialty, productivity, messaging, meeting/collaboration, education, utilities and gaming. Even with administrators’ best efforts to lock down workspaces to keep out unauthorized applications, it’s not possible to prevent users from adding applications they want. They can usually install applications into their own profile since the profile itself is typically fully controllable by the user’s rights.

The net effect here is that users can access more applications, each of which are very likely to be more graphics- and data-intensive, and they can introduce them at random. So, administrators can be challenged with keeping capacity and resources in line with these changes.

Updating fleets of desktop images involves a series of steps, of which none can be missed. However, slip-ups can happen. If a step is missed when sealing the image, it can result in a feature not being disabled. An unwanted application process can now run across the entire fleet consuming CPU, Memory or IO.

During builds, your entire image is vulnerable and even a single application runaway process can make it into the build, make it past acceptance testing and then be found later to unexpectedly consume resources.

A runaway process that monopolizes a CPU can drastically slow down the system and provide a bad user experience. This issue becomes serious when users need instant desktop response to conduct transactions with consumers, as in customer service, finance or healthcare. Often the only way to cope with a runaway process is to terminate it in Task Manager. But this can result in lost work, or the process is required to be running.

When administrators can’t do a complete image update, Process Optimization can automatically protect the desktop environment and keep performance in line with user needs. The feature employs a ruleset that automatically prioritizes foreground processes to access CPU, memory and IOPS over background processes. In addition, if administrators identify an application or process that consumes undue levels of CPU, Memory or IOPS, they can temporarily lower its priority or terminate it between image updates. Both the automatic and administrator-executed controls are performed through the Stratusphere UX Web Console and can be applied to a single machine, group, pool or the entire fleet.

When user experience is compromised, the administrator can leverage the Process Optimization feature to ensure that desktop applications running on a virtual environment can be made to “play well” with each other, until the situation can be remediated by updating the desktop image or provisioning more capacity.

User expectations and behavior on desktop hardware has dramatically soared in the past decade. Today they can use tablets, thin clients or full PC desktops to perform work. These devices have significantly more processor and memory than ever, not to mention solid-state drives (SSD) that provide lightning-fast IO. Users’ expectations for desktop performance is based on this one-to-one experience on hardware, which allows them to have multiple apps and windows open simultaneously to perform work or multi-task.

The Process Optimization feature is a built-in “set it and forget it” option that allows administrators to select from a series of profiles ranging from aggressive to conservative resource modulation.

Process Optimization is essentially a Connector-ID (CID) key that comes with the Stratusphere UX Solution. This CID key is deployed during the normal course of installation and distribution of the CID agents when setting up Stratusphere UX. This feature can be accessed under the CID Collector Setup Tab in the Administration Tab of the solution.

Unlike other process management and optimization solutions, the Stratusphere UX Process Optimization requires zero additional resources. Because the feature is built into Stratusphere UX Administrative functions as a CID key, Process Optimization is achieved without additional overhead. Similarly, the feature is extremely easy to install and configure and can be focused by machine / machine attributes, groups, or pools via our smart groups function.

Within Process Optimization, you can select from a number of different profiles, which range from aggressive to conservative optimization strategies. Liquidware provides a range of recommended profile settings in order to set the most productive and cost-effective use of desktop and server hardware matched to performance SLAs. These profiles allow administrators to set resource-usage priorities based on single-user or multi-user systems.

Stratusphere UX is the leading workspace monitoring and diagnostics solution. With the introduction of the Process Optimization feature in this solution, administrators can go farther and take action to modulate resource consumption automatically across a diverse and ever-changing set of operating system and application processes. This key feature not only preserves the user experience quality from platform to platform, but it also allows organizations to extend the density or workloads on existing servers and extend the life span of both server and client hardware for significant cost savings.

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