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.

Putting User Experience at the Center of the Workspace

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 methodologyvalidating 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.

Continue reading

Head in the Clouds? DaaS and User Experience with Stratusphere UX

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 head-in-the-cloudsvisibility 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.

Continue reading

What’s New in Stratusphere UX 5.8.6

What’s New in Stratusphere UX 5.8.6

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. Whats-NewSpecifically, 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.

Continue reading

Stratusphere in the Cloud on Amazon Web Services EC2

I’m super excited to share that our Stratusphere appliance is now supported on EC2 in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. This is exciting for a number of reasons, but overall it’s a great way to get started with Stratusphere for use cases where off-premise hosting is of value. We envision two lwl-aws-1clear uses—user assessment or onboarding, and validation of machine performance in cloud-based virtual workspaces.

Regardless of the delivery approach, it is critically important to know your user behaviors, application use, PC workload consumption and overall user experience. Stratusphere has been able to assist in these cases for on premise installations, and now can do the same for those who wish to deploy our Stratusphere Appliance in the cloud.

Continue reading

What’s New in Stratusphere UX 5.8.5

We’ve recently released Stratusphere UX version 5.8.5, and I could not be more pleased. This release is packed full of goodness, and benefits our customers in a number of areas,
such as: significantly lowering the barrier to diagnostics, enhanced ICA/HDX Citrix Whats-Newinformation and metrics, official support for the Nutanix platform, and application and process-level GPU metrics. In this post I’ll highlight a few details of each, but look for future posts that will dive deeper into each of these features and functions.

Continue reading

Liquidware Labs Named Citrix Ready Partner of the Month

Liquidware Labs has recently been named by Citrix® as Citrix Ready® Partner of the month. Citrix has raised the bar, creating an amazing ecosystem of complementary solutions, as well as a dynamic and trustworthy process by which partners are tested and validated. We could not be more pleased with this honor.

citrixpartnerofmonthlogoMost importantly, however; this recognition speaks to the importance of user experience and the value third party solutions bring to Citrix XenDesktop, XenApp and Citrix Cloud environments. User experience is ultimately the best measure of success. And Liquidware Labs provides industry leading solutions that many Citrix customers have come to benefit from, including; Stratusphere UX for monitoring and diagnostics, ProfileUnity for advanced user environment management, and FlexApp Application Layering—all components required in the visibility and delivery of user experience. Continue reading

With Greater GPU Visibility Comes Greater User Experience

The infrastructure, software platforms and best practices to support virtual workloads have come a long way in just a handful of years. Details and an understanding of important metrics—memory, disk and compute—have become more commonplace as it relates both to sizing as well as what is required inside each virtual guests. From where I sit NVIDIAmany of the barriers that presented challenges to reaping the full benefit of virtual workload delivery have been broken down. That is, except one… There is still one frontier that remains somewhat uncharted.

And that’s why I’m so very pleased to share that we’ve been working behind the scenes with NVIDA; an industry leader that has been Continue reading