Latest Version of Stratusphere UX now on Azure and AWS Marketplaces

The latest Stratusphere UX release (v. 6.1.4) has made it to both the Amazon Workspace Marketplace and the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

Amazon WorkSpaces Marketplace

You can find Stratusphere UX on the Amazon WorkSpaces Marketplace

The solution now provides focused support for AWS appliances.  And a new patented CID key adds support for Amazon AppStream.

Azure Marketplace

Stratusphere UX is now also featured on the Azure Marketplace.  The solution includes specialized CID keys to support WVD, as well as RFX metrics on Windows 7 (RDP 8) so they can take advantage of the RFX protocol.

EoS for Windows 7 makes this a good time to plan a migration to the cloud with Stratusphere UX.

Anyone considering moving their Windows desktop workloads to any cloud platform, can leverage Liquidware Stratusphere to conduct FIT assessments to determine their readiness to move to the cloud.   This information is critical in ensuring that the cloud environment has been sized properly to existing real-world desktop workloads and that the infrastructure can meet performance SLAs.

The end of Support for Windows 7 desktops makes this a critical time for customers to move workloads to Azure or pay stiff charges to continue to support physical environments.  So NOW is a very good time to consider and plan your migration strategy for Windows 7 with the help of a robust monitoring solution.

A good first step – especially if you’re new to hosting workloads in  cloud environments – is to conduct a Stratusphere assessment, which performs essential measurements of the existing environment and provides a FIT composite score that indicates the workload can move seamlessly to the new environment.    Anything less than a perfect A score means that some level of adjustment or remediation may be necessary.  This information ahead of time, saves countless hours and effort in the ultimate migration to the new cloud environment.

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Keeping Multi-Platform Hybrid Desktop Environments Optimized

Today’s desktop environments are increasingly diverse, encompassing multiple platforms, delivery modes and sophisticated technologies. In the past decade alone, a number of trends have converged to make managing desktop environments more complex than ever.

This blog summarizes the information contained in the Process Optimization Whitepaper located on the Liquidware website.

Windows OS Churn and Increasing Resource Consumption

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.

 Windows 10 is now a frequent spur of change in the workspace environment. Yet the process of desktop image design, maintenance and distribution has not changed to match this development. It remains time-consuming and complex. Administrators’ maintenance cycles typically lag behind the pace of Windows 10 updates. Image OS and application optimizations and acceptance testing may be performed before updates go live. But, with the sheer number of rapid and massive updates, all negative impacts cannot be assessed and eliminated for every cycle. During the gaps between image updates, workspace performance is likely to vary.

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Process Optimization Can Minimize the Effects of  Windows OS Churn

Liquidware Stratusphere UX includes a feature called Process Optimization that can smooth over the Windows update impacts to desktop-user experience by automatically leveling out resource utilization, directing more resources to foreground applications over Windows OS background processes that may vary with each new update. Process optimization thus reduces monopolization of limited resources and improves the user experience. If required, the administrator also has the option to set explicit priorities and termination rules to further optimize the user experience.

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. Continue reading

Tales From The Front Series –Arbitration Forums

Recently, I was on a call with a Gartner analyst, who reported that many of the companies who had not had successful VDI implementations early on were revisiting the technology to see if they could get it right a second (or third, or fourth) time around.

LiquidwareLabs-Tales-Front

No doubt about it…. virtualizing your desktops is difficult, and one of the main challenges stems from the fact that each organization’s environment is so different, that every one of these deployments will, by nature, require a customized path to success.

However, on the premise that if you study success, you, too, can learn to be successful, I have decided to do a series of blog posts on how some Liquidware Labs customers have won the VDI battle.

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Here We Go Again — Top Tips To Successfully Migrate from Windows Server 2003

On the heels of the Windows XP EOL alarm, comes another headache for IT staff – the EOL of Support for Windows Server 2003. In keeping with the sunset dates for its operating systems, Microsoft won’t issue security patches for this server after July 14, 2015.

Microsoft Server 2003 Support EOL Headache

Another headache from Microsoft — Server 2003 Support EOL happens July 14, 2015.

If you’re one of those companies which are subject to legal or industry regulations, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and you are running any part of your systems on Windows Server 2003 – guess what? You’ll be out of compliance because you’re required to run only supported servers. Continue reading

Why In The World Are You Using Microsoft® USMT For Windows® XP Migrations?

Okay, so this blog post has been quite a while in the making, mostly because I was having a hard time believing the facts on this one, i.e., that organizations are still planning Windows XP migrations using USMT. And right off the bat, I should make it clear that this is NOT a VDI post – it is a desktop post – meaning this time, I’m talking about one of the most common projects/problems that every desktop administrator has to take on at some point – mass migrations from an existing OS to a new one. Continue reading

A Conversation with Liquidware Labs Acceler8 Partner — SITS Group

The SITS Group, based in the North East of England, was formed in March 2008, to solve classic IT infrastructure challenges with innovative virtualisation technology.  The company made a strategic decision to limit the number of partnerships to a select few, in order to maintain a very high level of expertise in these vendor offerings.  The SITS Group is a Liquidware Labs Acceler8 Partner and Center of Excellence, and has standardised on Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity and Stratusphere solutions as best-in-class desktop virtualization software. Continue reading

Validating Employee Productivity with Desktop Monitoring Solution Stratusphere UX

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently raised a firestorm of debate when she suspended work-at-home programs at the company.  I am not going to get into the why’s and wherefore’s of her decision, but the issue of validating how employees are spending their working time is a legitimate one. The media and Corporate America have followed the Yahoo story with a lot of commentary on all sides of the question, and I think I can add some helpful insight on the topic. Continue reading

Top Five Tips to Keep Good VDI from Going Bad…

In my job, I get the chance every so often for extended conversation with one of our excellent channel partners.  And I always learn something new.   Today, I chatted with Derrick Faur, a veteran IT consultant with CentriNet, (www.centrinetcorp.com) based in Alpharetta, GA.

I was following up on their experience with our Stratusphere FIT and Stratusphere UX software, which they use in VDI deployments, and Derrick told me they were usually called in after a VDI project had gone horribly wrong and they had to turn it around.   An assessment, he said, was invaluable in getting the client company back on track because they were working with objective, actionable data – often for the first time in that project!!!  Well, of course I was amazed, and said ‘tell me more’ which led to some real doozies of stories of VDI-Gone-Bad, and my asking Derrick what advice he would give to customers who want to implement VDI the right way, the first time.

And here are his top 5 tips for getting it right, in order of priority.

1. Know Your Applications!!!

The primary and most important thing to understand is which and how many versions of applications you have running in your environment.  This is not only a good housekeeping step (inventorying applications and reducing the number of versions you are using), it is going to play a big role in designing your desktop images and keeping the number of images to a manageable workload.

2. Understand Your Users

According to Derrick, although most companies understand that delivering a quality user experience is important, they are not exactly sure how to create a picture of what that is.  And unless you accurately measure how your users work (in office, remotely etc.) in terms of quantifiable numbers like duration of response times they have with logins, applications, etc., you can’t deliver that. 

3. User Acceptance is Important

If your users don’t like it, they won’t use it.  But… here’s the magic.  Derrick says it’s actually very easy to get users to like it.  First make sure that their VDI experience is as close to what they have on their current desktops so they are in familiar territory.  Then make it faster and more available.  And then stop the whiners  – meaning some people don’t like any changes at all, so make sure you have an objective measurement tool to first, baseline their current experience and second, prove to them VDI is on par with what they had. 

4. The Device is NOT the Driver of VDI

Often enough, a VDI implementation can start with someone in the organization saying…”wouldn’t it be cool if I do my work (presentation, data entry, research… you name it) on my iPad?”    And, says Derrick, that’s really starting at the end.   It is much more important to understand your applications and how users use them to do work, and then choose the right approach from there.  He gave an example of a carpet company client of theirs, whose salesmen do use their tablets to make customer presentations and process orders, but this was a case of delivering a very slim set of apps to the salesmen and application virtualization was the better approach there.     He went on to say that not all applications are a good fit for tablets or mobile devices either, so again, start with getting the facts about how your employees do their jobs and create the right infrastructure to support that.

5. Deliver a Consistent Experience

Nobody likes the unexpected.  And even though VDI is capable of blazing performance, no one is going to be happy if it’s haphazard or only good 30% of the time.    According to Derrick, the only way to deliver a consistent experience is to make sure you have visibility into your VDI infrastructure from the user experience all the way into the infrastructure supporting it.  That way you can proactively head off bottlenecks or other budding issues that can cause user experience to deteriorate.

Thanks Derrick for that perspective from the front-lines of VDI projects!