User Experience is the hot buzz-phrase du jour. Vendors in the end user computing space want to associate their product with it. Often you’ll hear and see claims like, “we enhance user experience” or “we make desktop user experience better.” And while I agree with these sentiments, I can’t help but think the issue isn’t about flowery marketing language, but about taking the subjective and making it actionable for the benefit of IT operations.
Meeting user expectations and delivering user experience is hard. Translating what is inside your users head and defining IT process and operations around meeting these subjective desires can be an almost impossible goal without the right visibility detail. About a year ago I wrote about Baselining the User Experience and Defining a Measure of Success with Stratusphere UX. I wrote about the shift towards using user experience as a definition of success and the opportunity to define SLA and KPIs that can quantify your approach.
The ability to meet expectations and deliver the appropriate user-experience on shared infrastructure platforms such as VMware View and Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop can be a complex and a challenging endeavor. One of the ways you can stay ahead of the curve is through a point-in-time analysis called the SpotCheck. Liquidware engineers and our partner community have been using Stratusphere UX and this technique—leveraging known levels of acceptable performance and baselines—to identify infrastructure and platform constraints that can contribute to a poor user-experience.
The SpotCheck inspection takes a broad look at overall infrastructure and platform health as a means to provide a picture of resource usage and performance of the virtual or cloud environment. The objectives of the SpotCheck are as follows:
Provide a 360° view of virtual desktop resource use and performance
Gain visibility of critical issues, both known and unknown
Identify and provide analysis of performance issues
Establish real-world baselines to gauge normal/abnormal operations
Spectre and Meltdown, and the newly coined category of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities, have created new challenge for workspace administrators—namely, the challenge of being able to report on an enterprise scale, quantify performance impacts and mitigate negative effects. A colleague of mine wrote specifically about the performance challenges in “Meltdown and Spectre – Minimize impact and avoid performance problems.”
I’m very excited to announce the general availability of Stratusphere UX 6.0. With this release, the solution has received an architectural upgrade, a dashboard builder, support for new client devices, and application features to facilitate application strategy and reporting.
Under the Covers
Primary to this release is a new and highly-scalable architecture, which will support an increase of 400 percent in scale and increases of 40 percent in interface responsiveness and over 100 percent in reporting time. Additionally, Stratusphere UX 6.0 introduces a distributed Collector Appliance, for the aggregation and collection of Stratusphere Connector ID Key (an extremely lightweight in-guest agent) data and network data—related, Connector ID Keys now offer a feature to failover to another Stratusphere Collector in the event of an appliance or infrastructure failure.
Just over a year ago, we added GPU visibility within Stratusphere UX. Through our partnership and the NVIDIA GRID software development kit made available to us, we incorporated machine-level GPU metrics into the Stratusphere UX Advanced Inspectors. Very soon Liquidware will … Continue reading →
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.
Don’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.
I’ve blogged in the past about the login process (see “Boot and Login Visibility: Make a Solid First Impression with Stratusphere” and “Liquidware Cloud Login Analysis”). The importance of optimizing the machine boot and login process cannot be understated. It … Continue reading →
In the past, I’ve covered topics such as Breaking Down Silos and Changing Your Point of View and Outside In versus Inside Out. In these and other posts, the theme has been about putting the user first. Regardless of where you might be in the user lifecycle: performing activities such as assessing, designing, migrating or validating a proof of concept or pilot; or operationally, looking at ongoing monitoring, diagnostics and troubleshooting; or perhaps you’re checking the health or optimizing your platform or infrastructure… In all cases the message and concept is simple: Put the user at the center of workspace delivery and management.
The move to virtual desktops, whether full on-premises VDI or a managed desktop as a service (DaaS) in the cloud, can be wrought with hidden challenges. Some of these challenges are technical, and some political; however, the result is the same: disruption, not meeting user expectations and greater risk to user productivity. These challenges or visibility gaps are amplified in larger environments as there are more fingers in the pie, often combined with distributed technical responsibilities.
Ultimately, the question you should be asking yourself is who owns accountability to the user experience. If delivered properly, the desktop or workspace should appear to be a consistent and familiar experience—regardless of whether it is delivered atop physical PCs, virtualized locally or delivered as a service in the cloud. But who gets the light shined on them when things go astray? Is it the desktop team? Perhaps the infrastructure folks who own the storage, servers and network are to blame? And in the case of DaaS, this demarcation becomes a lot more imprecise.
On the heels of release 5.8.5, we are thrilled to share version 5.8.6 of Stratusphere UX. And while much of this release focuses on behind-the-scenes enhancements and routine virtual appliance patches, we have introduced a couple of key features I wanted to highlight. Specifically, I wanted to share some detail on the newly organized and enhanced Advanced Mode Dashboards, as well as some goodness from our friends at NVIDIA.