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.
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.
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.
Liquidware is a pioneer and veteran in desktop virtualization technologies and was the first to launch a digital experience monitoring and diagnostics solution soon after it began in 2009. Today, Stratusphere UX is unrivaled in the market for the depth and breadth of its metrics data, making it the leading diagnostics tool in this space.
STRATUSPHERE UX USE CASES
Customers continually report back to us as they expand the use of this solution in their environments, extracting increased value from their initial investment. This wide array of use cases includes the following.
Whatever reasons compel the push towards next-generation workspaces, the first question IT departments need to answer is “how can we determine if our current desktop infrastructure can be transitioned to next generation (physical or virtual) desktops?” The on-boarding phase answers that question and sets the stage for successful migrations for physical to virtual, virtual to virtual, and physical/virtual to cloud.
User experience in Stratusphere UX is measured through a unique and proprietary set of machine and I/O indicators that accurately reflect the quality of desktop performance where it matters most—at the user’s workspace.
Stratusphere UX should be used to perform an assessment of the existing desktops in order to rate their suitability to be migrated to digital workspaces. Beyond the assessment phase, which is critical for platform, architectural and image (application) design, Stratusphere UX should be employed to baseline the user experience as a means to on-board users to your next-generation desktop approach. 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 create baselines for your physical environments.
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. Baselines also help you to establish “thresholds” of normal or acceptable performance. Subsequently, if measurements of the virtual desktop infrastructure fall outside of normal thresholds, (abnormal behavior) it signals those issues may be developing.
Managing your new virtual environment can be a difficult prospect. Staged rollouts can make the first steps in your transition project simpler, but how can you tell if you are allocating the right number of resources to your newly created platform and ensuring users on-boarded in later stages are properly resourced?
During the proof-of-concept phases, user experience validation can provide hard data on how a specific vendor’s products will address your needs. It can also mean the difference between under- and over-provisioning of resources. Budget overruns create a political nightmare for IT management and have led to the cancellation of more promising projects than almost any other reason. User experience validation metrics could mean the difference between a solution that doesn’t actually tick all the boxes and one that does.
Forensic Diagnosis and Health Checks
Tracking down the root causes of issues in a next-generation workspace infrastructure can be a difficult, often very frustrating process. Stratusphere UX is uniquely designed to perform a procedure called Health Checks. A Health Check utilizes two main parameters: scale (who and how many are being affected?) and time (when and for how long is the incident occurring). Stratusphere UX is uniquely designed to support diagnostics in these environments as it can trend metrics over time. Time based metrics allow IT to answer questions such as “what systems, resources, applications, users, etc. are being affected at what time and for how long?” By answering this question, IT can determine whether an issue is systemic (for example, an event happens repeatedly to all users at a certain time of day, or to all users all the time) or whether events are localized to a group of users or single user or application.
Running regular health checks with Stratusphere UX will offer a more proactive approach to keeping your infrastructure running at its best and allow you to rapidly address problems based on real visibility; not based on assumptions that misread the true root cause.
Stratusphere UX also supports Important steps in the creation of application strategies, including:
- Application Analysis—During the initial phases of an application strategy, understanding your application inventory and being able to assess consumption metrics for target applications is a necessary foundation. This is also a key step when looking to Baseline & Onboard Users
- Application Mapping and Image Design—Once rationalized, Stratusphere UX assists with the selection of the appropriate application delivery approach. This paves the way for optimal image design and application layering delivery with FlexApp.
- Application Experience Modeling—Post deployment, it is important to include Performance Validation & Optimization of the image design, platform and ensure user experience metrics are being met for all applications.
- Application Operations—After the move to production and on an ongoing basis, it is critical to proactively provide for Operations & First-tier Support as well as reactive Diagnostics & Drill Down for analyze applications that are not performing optimally.
Cloud-based and SaaS are among the latest applications that require complete visibility. Stratusphere UX provides details and metrics within the browser, peeling back the layers on domain as well as consumption details.
Merger/Reverse Merger Scenarios
Stratusphere UX has classically been used to provide assessments of unfamiliar environments when an organization merges with or purchases another company. By obtaining an inventory of the existing desktop environment, the organization can plan a standard desktop image, choose the appropriate infrastructure, and smoothly roll out a consistent platform for all users.
On rare occasions, Stratusphere UX has been utilized to perform an assessment exercise to allow an organization to divorce itself from a parent organization and architect a stand-alone environment to operate independently. Highly accurate data about domain names & locations, IP addresses, users, machines, and applications, allows the merger/reverse merger process to be managed with as little disruption to user productivity as possible.
Security Posture Reporting
Many companies use a variety of tools in order to build a report concerning the security posture of end user machines. Unfortunately, often, these reports can take several days to accumulate all the data from various sources and bring them into a single view report. That means the information may well be out of date and fail to warn of loopholes that can open the door to hackers. Stratusphere UX includes a set of security related metrics that can provide hourly status of measures including firewalls, encryption, anti-virus, and anti-spyware as well as status of last time booted and Microsoft updates and versions. Stratusphere UX has reports on all of these data points and can be easily pulled using our API into a statistical application, such as Tableau, Power BI or an ITSM application such as ServiceNow to provide a wholistic overview of the security posture of the organization on an hourly basis. These reports can assist to immediately alert to potential gaps, allowing IT staff to ensure that these are closed before they can be exploited.
The following security-related metrics are available in Stratusphere UX.
|Machine Name||Antivirus Enabled|
|Machine Type||Antivirus Signature Up to Date|
|OS Name||Antivirus Threat Count|
|OS Type||AntiSpyware Enabled|
|OS Build Version||AntiSpyware Signature Up to Date|
|Disk Name||AntiSpyware Threat Count|
|Disk Encryption Provider||Firewall Status|
|OS Updates Status||Firewall Private|
|OS Updates Pending||Firewall Domain|
|OS Update Last Check (Days)||Firewall Public|
|Core Isolation Memory Integrity||Secure Processor Attestation|
Stratusphere UX has also been used for specific ROI-related use cases. My next blog post will cover these in detail.