Make Project Octopus available via Horizon App Manager 1.5

In June 2012, VMware released Horizon Application Manager 1.5.

In the beginning of this year, 2012, VMware’s Project Octopus went beta; http://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2012/05/project-octopus-public-beta-now-available.html

Via Horizon you can give users access to enterprise applications. Think about ThinApp’d and SaaS apps.

Octopus is another application you can make available via Horizon App Manager. Octopus is a on-premise virtual appliance but nevertheless, you can give your users access to this Octopus appliance via Horizon.

I created a document (with help from some of my VMware colleagues) to make Octopus available via Horizon. I aware Octopus is still beta and not every one can have access to the code. However, I would like to show beta participants how to make Octopus available via Horizon.

Click on the below file to read the step=by-step guide to add Octopus to your Horizon implementation:

Octopus via Horizon App Manager

User Virtualization in the Post PC-era?

Today I ran into an article which had an interesting quote;

 Persona Management isn’t mature enough yet, and VMware knows it, Dunkin’s Brennan said. The company probably added it just to “check the box”, but he speculated that VMware would get profile management up to speed by making an acquisition

We can have a discussion about the the first part in another article but especially the acquisition part caught my attention.

So, will VMware acquire another company to speed up its profile management? I think that is an interesting question. A different question but related to the first 1 could be; how important will User Virtualization be in, let’s say, 5 years? Yet another question; will you still need User Virtualization in 5 years?

First, let’s take 1 step back for a minute; Once upon a time, there were Windows PC’s and in Windows NT the profiling scheme was introduced. Then there were roaming profiles, mandatory profiles, default user profiles and Group Policies; all mechanisms to control the user, control and save their settings like printers/wallpaper, their permissions to shares and folders, what they are or aren’t allowed to do like accessing Control Panel. Also, store profiles centrally and users will have the same look and feel from any Windows PC. Separate the user from the Operating System.

Third party vendors like RTO, Appsense, RES and LiquidWare got into this space as well to fill gaps and add new features, moving on where standard Microsoft profiles and GPO’s stopped.

But, all the tools have 1 thing in common; Windows. That’s not a bad thing but it isn’t the only platform anymore to run applications. IOS/Android phones/tablets and Macs are out there in the enterprise, even privately owned ones. The world is changing and I believe it is the Post PC-era already.

Management will change. It has to change. Applications and data will be delivered to different devices in different ways; you access ThinApp apps via VMware View from your private Android Tab 1 moment. Next, you access a SaaS app on your corporate iPhone.

Instead of managing most things on a Windows level/device level, you have to take that management up a couple of levels. To me, that’s the user level. It will become more important who is allowed to access which application/data from what device and place. The underlying Operating System and device will become less important. Horizon App Manager will be that Universal Broker where you set those user based rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Windows will be around for a long time as a platform to execute specific applications. But will that platform be considered to be big enough for VMware to invest in a Windows profile management tool? Again, interesting questions.

Cloud based data solutions- Are they forgetting about VDI? Part 2

A little while ago I wrote an article about Cloud Data Solutions like Dropbox, Box.net, Mozy Stash and Project Octopus and that these products can’t be installed in a Floating Pool VDI environment today. The Dropbox client gets installed in a user’s profile so you can’t install it in your master/parents/golden image VM and deploy it to your users. Other products save their config information (server, account name/email address and password) in HKLM in stead of something which is roaming like User\AppData\Roaming. That means all users would have to fill in their credentials every time they logon to a new VM. That’s not the way you want it to be, right?

But, is this the only issue when you look at Cloud Data solutions and roaming desktop users? Let’s brainstorm some more. Let’s assume this client issue can be fixed. Fixing where it saves the credential information shouldn’t be too hard to fix, right?!

So, let’s set the baseline here; we have a VMware View environment (the issues probably apply to other solutions as well), Floating pools, refresh after first use, roaming profile/Persona Management and Folder Redirection, and a Cloud data agent which is working just fine in a floating environment.

What happens when a user logs on for the first time? First thing that needs to be done is to configure the agent. Fill in a username, password and the URL of the Data server/provider. Dropbox, Mozy and other will place their own folder under user\data folder so you are ready to go. Add data to that folder and it will be synced to the “Cloud” (and this Cloud can be on or off premise).

Second time a users logs on, there is no need to fill in the credentials anymore. That was fixed. Yay! The folder under user\data folder is there as well. It’s being roamed by Roaming Profiles/Persona Management and so is your data. Maybe you will have to wait a bit till everything is in sync.

Data is part of your profile (in this example). Is that what we want? Not really. First of all, you will get a huge profile with all that data. When you are using Roaming Profiles you might experience slow logon and logoff times. This is much better with Persona Management though. Secondly, and more important, aren’t you saving data twice now? One time in the Cloud and 1 time in your profile. Your company probably paid an amount of money to get that “Cloud based data storage environment”, like Dropbox/Box.net/Mozy Stash. In this case they also have to invest more money in disks for their file servers because Roaming Profiles are exploding in size and they are saved on central file servers. Folder redirection to speed up logon time when you use Roaming Profiles won’t change a thing. You still need to have central storage to redirect to.

So, this way, data will become expensive. How to solve these issues? Well, the easiest way is not to use an (offline) client. You won’t have the client issues inside a floating desktop and you won’t have to save data twice. Everything you do regarding your data is via your browser. Create a document and upload it directly to the Cloud. Realistically, this can be done but it’s difficult, especially when you edit documents a lot; downloading, edit, uploading again.

Maybe the offline clients can redirect data in a smart way; the folder does show content but it all is located in the Cloud. When you double click a file, then it will be downloaded to your machine, to a temp cache folder. Same happens to other way around. When you drag and drop a file from your VM into the data folder, it will sync to the Cloud and deleted from your VM.

I’m not a developer so I’m not sure if this is possible. What I do know is that Cloud based data solutions and VDI still need some work and thinking. I’m positive though. It will be great.

Cloud based data solutions- Are they forgetting about VDI?

If you follow VMware’s End User Computing strategy/vision, you probably have read that a computer consists of building blocks; Hardware, Operating System, Applications, Data/Settings. Traditionally these layers are tied together and it is very smart to untie them by using virtualization.

Nothing new so far. it is smart to decouple layers. You will be able to manage each piece separately. Users will be more flexible; Any time, any device, anywhere users will be able to get access to apps, settings and data.

So, let’s focus on data for a sec.

We know and understand you shouldn’t lock data in a PC. It’s a bad thing to do. You need to be behind that PC to be able to access that data. So, it’s common to redirect data to a file share inside the company. Now you can access it from any PC inside your company (Folder redirection and Roaming Profiles are mostly used together so that’s my assumption; Folder Redirection and Roaming Profiles/Persona Management are in place).

The limitation with Folder Redirection is that you can’t access it from any device, access it easily from outside your company nor share it easily. The solution for that; Dropbox, Box.net, Mozy Stash and Project Octopus, to name a few. It has to be mentioned; Mozy Stash and Project Octopus are beta/alpha products, not generally available. If you would like to know more about the differences and benefits between Stash/Octopus and Dropbox, click here.

What’s the beauty of the mentioned products? Your data is located in the “Cloud”, and “Cloud” can be on or off premise. Data is residing on a platform which is accessible. All you need to have are Clients on your devices, configured to access your account and your data. Go to the Dropbox or Mozy website and you will be able to get Clients for Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone and Android (and maybe even other platforms). Great!! You can access your data from all of your devices. Exactly what we all want!

But…what about VDI environments…and let me stick to what I know best..VMware View environments? What about it?, you might ask. Just install, for example Dropbox for Windows and a user is good to go. I noticed a tiny little issue and I wanted to see if it is just me seeing this as an issue. I’m curious about your thoughts.

I do believe the most efficient and user centric way of computing is to use Linked Clone Floating pools with a delete/refresh after first use. All users will get a clean VM, the VM won’t grow much and will revert to its original size. Via ThinApp users will get their apps and Persona Management/Roaming Profiles will give the user’s look and feel. With traditional Folder Redirection, every time you logon to a new VM, you will be able to access your data from a share. I truly like this mechanism and encourage everyone to aim for this method.

So, no Folder Redirection but let’s use Dropbox in stead. I should install Dropbox in my golden image/my parent VM. Then deploy a pool from that parent and everyone should have Dropbox. Configure it and data should be available to that user. Your configuration should be saved in a part of your profile that roams, like AppData\Roaming. Persona Management/Roaming Profiles will save this setting and it will be there on every VM, so you only configure it 1 time. To go easy on the size of your profile, the Dropbox folder will be redirected to a share (default installation is user\My Documents\Dropbox).

Well, I really thought this would make sense but no! The case with Dropbox is that is gets installed in the user’s profile. It’s a per user installation (and to me, also very much per device, so per user-per device). Install it in your golden image and your users won’t even see Dropbox being installed.

I expect other products to have similar issues (I know some do). Either the installation is in someone’s profile or the configuration is device dependent (either saves under AppData\Local or under HKLM, result; not roaming). You don’t want to configure your Data repository every time you logon to a new VM, I assume.

I can access my data from an iPad and iPhone but I can’t access it from my main work environment, a VM. Maybe I’m missing something here and is something totally different coming, solving this issue completely or making it irrelevant. If it isn’t, then I truly hope “they” won’t forget VDI solutions.

Data anywhere, any time, any device; Project Octopus and Mozy Stash

VMware’s End User Computing is all about the end user in the post-pc era. It is user centric. In this concept, the user should be able to access the right applications and data from anywhere, any time and any device. This time I would like to focus on the Data part.

In the traditional way of working data often resides on a PC. The problem here is that data is tied to a device and not to a user. The user needs to access that device (sitting inside a corporate building) to get to the data.

Many companies nowadays use shared drives and/or home drives for users. This way users can save data on central file servers. When they logon to a PC in the environment, they can get to their data. It’s a step forward but what about accessing data from outside the corporate LAN, from different devices like tablets, smart phones, Macs etc?

Many of you know Dropbox or Box.net. Basically it is data storage in the cloud. Your data is accessible from a lot of different devices. If you change a file from 1 device, you will see that change on other devices as well. There are a couple of challenges to Dropbox and Box.net (and other products like them); IT doesn’t have any control over data that’s stored with those cloud products and though, they can’t set policies. That is a big concern because we are talking about corporate data here. Corporate data in general is valuable and some data can also be very sensitive. As a company you would like to be able to control that kind of data.

That’s where Project Octopus and Mozy Stash come into play;

  •  Project Octopus; 

Announced at VMware World 2011 in Las Vegas. Project Octopus is called the “Dropbox of the enterprise”. It will come as a virtual appliance, an OVF file to be installed on premise behind the firewall. IT can set policies; quota, what can be shared outside the company, versioning, history tracking, access/security and manage data based on how old data is-set expiration dates and delete data after that. Project Octopus will work with VMware View, Zimbra, Horizon App Manager and Project Appblast. You can find screenshots here and also a great video here. If you would like to stay up to date and participate in the upcoming beta, go to vmwareoctopus.com

  • Mozy Stash;

Mozy Stash is probably not known as widely as Project Octopus but reality is, it has been in beta for a while now already! Yes, you can give it a try! Read the Mozy Stash FAQ.

Mozy is known as an online file backup company/product but Mozy is moving on. Mozy Stash will be similar as Dropbox and also be hosted off premise, in the Mozy data centers. Mozy Stash can be installed on Windows and Mac devices and also has an IOS and Android App.

A stash folder will appear after installation of the Windows/Mac software. When you add data, this data will be synced with the cloud so all connected devices will have the same up to date files and folders to access. During the beta only MozyHome accounts can be used. It’s intended to add Stash to MozyPro accounts in the future. Up till 5 computers can be tied to your Stash.

It is relevant to mention Mozy Stash will be a feature of MozyPro and MozyHome rather than a stand-alone offering. So you can backup your Mac/Windows device (all your files) but also have a magic Stash folder to share your data or have it accessible from many devices. This sharing feature currently isn’t in the beta. Also in a future release it will be posible for IT departments to set policies and permissions for Stash, to proactively manage data with group policies. Reactive monitoring like auditing, roll out software and users should also be possible.

So all together, interesting products are coming on the data side! I cancelled my Dropbox renewal and put everything on Mozy. Fair is fair, it is a beta product but it is working for me!

Thanks to Ted Haeger for providing me the information about Mozy Stash.

 

Do I eat my own dog food?

Customers and partners do ask me what I use on a daily base. Do I use ThinApp, Socialcast, Sliderocket, View etc etc? In other words, do I eat our own dog food?

Well, first of all, the base. My laptop is a personal Mac Book Pro. For the geeks (just like myself); a 2.66Ghz Core i7, 8GB Ram and a 256GB SSD and Snow Leopard. Yeah baby, I love my MBP. It’s quick!

On top of Snow Leopard I have installed VMware Fusion 4. I installed Windows 7 Enterprise inside Fusion. This VM is my VMware Workspace. So my VMware Workspace is completely separated from my personal Mac environment. This way you can apply the “Bring Your Own Device” concept securely.

I don’t have a corporate vDesktop yet. Basically the only reason is I’m offline too much of the time and the current View Client for Mac doesn’t support Local Mode. I do have a vDesktop on our European demo environment though. I can connect to it from my personal Mac side with the Mac View Client and from inside my Windows VM with the Windows View Client.

So, what am I using inside my VM? Of course email. My email resides on a Zimbra backend and I either use Google Chrome (my default browser) or the Zimbra Desktop Client Application to connect to Zimbra. Because there is hardly no difference between the browser and application way of connecting, I use Chrome to connect to Zimbra basically all the time. I can use my email independent of an OS and App and have the same experience every time by using a browser.

For my presentations I do use Sliderocket. I converted my most important PPT’s into Sliderocket and threw away all my presentations. All new presentation I create from scratch in Sliderocket.  Give yourself a bit of time with creating presentations and converting PPT’s. Not everything will go smoothly from the start but I love Sliderocket now. I’m still not a guru but I wasn’t a guru with Powerpoint either. I tried to create a small story here. Just in case I don’t have a connection, I have cached all my presentations into my Sliderocket Player application. You can download it for Windows, Mac and iPad.

Everyday I also use VMware App Manager. Via App Manager I can easily connect to several SaaS applications VMware provides me, like for example VMware Socialcast.  I intensely use Socialcast to collaborate with my colleagues. You can read about my Socialcast experience here. To connect to Socialcast I do use a browser but I have to say the Socialcast App is looking pretty good.

For my data I use Mozy Stash. Stash is in beta at this moment. This new technology keeps my data synced across all my devices. You can compare it with Dropbox. I will elaborate on Stash soon.

Lastly, I use a couple of ThinApp-ed applications, like Google Chrome and Adobe Reader.

I try to use as much VMware End User Computing technology as possible. When new technologies arrive I will continue to try to use them as quickly as possible. I can’t wait to use Horizon Mobile, Appblast and Octopus.