Goodbye Old Friend – Hello New World

Without sounding big headed I genuinely thought we had and in “some” areas still have one of the most modern desktop environments going (at a solutions level anyway). While I’m full of opinions I’ll always engage 100% with what’s around the corner even if sometimes past loyalties have to be moved to one side for the greater good.

But what was good for yesteryear is not always appropriate to move us forward.

Hello New World
It is with great pleasure to announce that we have entered into a 3 year deal with VMware for an Enterprise License Agreement for our entire datacentre and EUC stack – Horizon Mirage and View. This is part of a clear step forward for us as we rationalise/standardise our strategic partners moving forward and meet the growing demands of our Business and users.

On a personal level, this (the Mirage element) is something I’ve been working hard on for a long time and is finally coming to fruition – I’m looking forward to the next few months!

In addition to this we are drastically scaling back our VDI architecture (Losing our claim on the largest RemoteFX environment) to a deployment for 1000 CCU sessions using IBM, Teradici and Atlantis Ilio (Did I mention how cool Ilio is?). Why are we scaling back our remote desktop offering? What was wrong with it? Why we’re moving forward with traditional desktops? – These questions will be answered at Briforum UK (shameless plug).


BTW – View has come a long way since I last reviewed it… Looking forward to seeing how the elements of desktone and View are merged together in the future.

The ELA and new VDI environment are just a few of the many activities and projects under way that I will no doubt talk about in the future.

So that leads me too…

Goodbye Old Friend
As I’ve already said sometimes old loyalties have to be moved to one side and through all the excitement and great things we’re embarking on there is inevitably going to be a victim (or two).

My old friend in this case is Dell vWorkspace (formally Quest).

It’s no secret that I’ve always been the biggest vWorkspace fan boy, arguing why it’s a valid competitor to Citrx/VMware and promoting it at all sorts of events. I don’t think this will change. I truly think from a management/IT perspective it’s the best remote desktop solution going.

However… It no longer fulfils our Business and User requirements moving forward. There are some other “reasons” why we’re moving away too but I don’t think now is the time to share these – That would require a bar to be present 🙂

It’s been one hell of a time vWorkspace. I wish the remaining vWorkspace team (not many left now) all the best for the future

So why did I blog this? I know we’re observed by vendors and organisations as to what we do in this space. I felt I had to state that vWorkspace isn’t being retired because it’s a bad product. It’s just no longer has a place here and we’re moving on to bigger and better things.

RES IT Store – A New Era for Self Service Delivery

Last year I wrote a post ‘The Power of a Service Store’ which barely scratched the surface on the power of self-service delivery. This week thanks to RES Software the world of IT has welcomed one of the most exciting new products in recent years, IT Store – Happy Birthday!

In brief IT Store is the successor/new version of RES’s Service Orchestration solution which was an extension of Automation Manager. Now sold as a separate product (but still with the same level on integration for Automation Manager and Workspace Manager users) the major new feature is the stunning user interface.

Before I start covering this, it’s worth noting that the whole RES product suite has been updated (with a funky new installer too) with tons of new features so check it out.

We’ve been using the IT store to deliver services and applications to 23,000 users since September last year (8000 before that). Out of those users, just over 21,000 of them have subscribed to services with just under 200,000 service transactions having taken place.

In 2012 we pestered RES quite hard about the un-user friendly Service Orchestration client (below).


Luckily RES shared our vision (or we shared theirs :P) and several months after invited us to be an early launch customer and work with them to help develop what the IT Store is today.

The new interface replaces the client (above) with a new look web portal that can be accessed with any browser (not just Windows – Cool now there is an OS X Agent for Automation Manager). It’s a simple install (3-4 mins) and utilizes IIS. On a domain joined Windows box users will automatically be signed in to the store on launch.

From a user’s perspective this is a quick view of the experience:


Once in you are presented with the home screen (the looks/style/logo can all be changed via the management console which has received some welcome performance improvements).


By default you see a “tiled” icon view of available services with a customizable logo and description. You can click on the service for more information and screenshots. You can also change the view from tiled to detailed (my preference).


What’s proved popular with our users is the URL support in the service details. You can link a service to the relevant support information/site. We use to provide our users with lots of software tutorials which simply opens a new browser window.

Depending on the service you can either ‘request’, ‘install’ or ‘Add to Cart’. The Add to Cart feature is my current favourite and really adds value for new users who need to compose their workspace when they start. You can configure the options depending on the service for example some services might require user input and aren’t’ suited to being used in conjunction with a shopping cart.


We have around 400 services (mainly apps) and this increasing by 10 – 20 per week. Luckily the built in service search facility is pretty instant plus with the help of category views finding the services you require is fast and fluid.

On the left hand side under the cart/home button you will find the message centre and transaction history buttons.


Depending on your workflow (all services are workflow driven – I’ll cover in future posts) services might provide or request information to/from the user or might require approval from another user (manager, etc.). Messages can also be emailed.

ITStoreMSG ITStoreRequestInfomation ITStoreapproval

Using the History button you can view your current and past service transaction history (with filters).


I will be doing more IT Store blog posts over the coming weeks and months. I’ll demonstrate how easy it is to setup a simple service and integrate with RES Workspace Manager and Automation Manager.

IT Store is not just about application delivery or even End User Computing, How should service delivery be approached? Services can be anything from delivering or making desktop applications available through to provisioning VMs in the datacentre or even provisioning accounts in Office 365. Some key points to bear in mind:

  • The IT Store is a be a mechanism which automates the business workflow for a service
  • The IT Store understands who should receive the service
  • The IT Store determines what the “trigger” for service delivery should be
  • The IT Store enforces approval processes (if required)
  • The ITStore launches any technical process required to enable the service
  • The IT Store deals with the return of the service if the user no longer requires it, or they no longer qualify

The timing of this release couldn’t be more perfect as IT departments have become or are starting to become service-centric operations. Overtime we need to think of our users as service consumers so they can choose how to compose their workspaces. The IT Store is the ultimate way to aggregate everything (processes, app delivery platforms, management tasks, etc.) into a one stop IT shop.

The point of this post was to just show you a brief view of the IT Store, to congratulate RES Software on a sterling effort and to thank them for listening to their customers. I can’t wait to see how this product develops!

Want to know how RES feel about this release? Check out this cool video of RES Software’s Founder & CTO Bob Janssen ‘A Vision Fulfilled


RES Workspace Manager and Numecent Application Jukebox

The purpose of this post is to explain a way of integrating RES Software’s Workspace Manager (user workspace management) and Numecent’s Application Jukebox (application delivery).

Scroll down to see how it can be done (and ignore the background rubbish)…

We’ve been using Application Jukebox for a number of years but as a result of its lack of 3rd party integration or any real form of API, its use case has been restricted mainly to one Faculty with the occasional “specialist” application being used around the Uni.

This is a real shame for Jukebox because as an underlying technology it’s amazing, it can pretty much package (virtual) any app with full service, kernel integration, etc.

For the uninitiated, users currently go to a web portal, browse a list of available apps (no categories, search facility, recent or even favorite apps) and select their desired package (apps are allocated to a user/group or workstation). This downloads a token file which is opened by the Jukebox Player (the speed of this is stunning). Depending on how the app is configured, it will auto-launch or rely on the user going to the start menu shortcut (configured during the packaging process). – This is ideal in a BYO environment. In fact, in my opinion, one of the best solutions to deliver offline apps to users own devices and it comes with some great security features – kill pill, etc.

In a “managed” desktop environment, management and delivery of applications needs to be more dynamic. IT need to be able to choose not only who gets the package, but when, where, what on, etc and a combination of each. In a modern workspace, the application needs to follow the user. Where applicable user customizations and settings made to an application need to follow the user too. I need to be able to say, yeah you can use this student record system when on campus but not from home on a virtual desktop or TS session… Things I can’t do with Jukebox today.

So, how do you combine the best User Environment Management solution with one of the best application packaging solutions? Read on….

Pre-reqs and/or Recommendations

The following has been tested on RES Workspace Manager 2012 SR3, Application Jukebox 8.6.2 (x64) and Windows 7 ent X64.

Jukebox applications have been configured to not auto-run (recommended for this).

A VBS script is held in the RES Workspace Manager’s custom resources (Download it: JukeBoxRESWM). Please note, while modified slightly by “us”, the original script was provided by Numecent and I suspect is not supported.

In this file you need to change the following to suite you’re environment,

Dim licenseUrl
Dim renewalUrl
Dim providerKey

Also change the path to the Jukebox Player (if not using the x64 player).

Step 1

On your admin workstation, request the desired application from the Application Jukebox portal (in this guide, I’m using IBM’s SPSS Amos).


Step 2

Open the RES Workspace Manager Management console and create a new application entering the specifics of the application. In this case, I’m using the Application Wizard.


Follow the usual wizard and configure the required access to the application (as you would a normal app).

Step 3

Open the RES Managed application properties for your application, navigate to Configuration and add a new command.


Insert the ‘%script%’ reference for the command line field, Run hidden and wait for task before continuing.

In the script field enter the following (changing the relevant values)

%SystemRoot%\System32\WScript.exe "C:\Program Files (x86)\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data\DBCache\Resources\custom_resources\Application Jukebox\JukeBoxRESWM.vbs" AFBA93CE-2810-438E-9B19-6A70579E6386 "C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\SPSS\Amos\20\AmosGraphicsCLI.exe"
rmdir "C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\IBM SPSS Statistics\" /S /Q

The first line calls the vbs script specifying which application (using the apps Jukebox license No.) to stream down to the Jukebox player – note, the section that calls the app’s executable isn’t relevant (I only kept it for legacy reasons).

The second command is optional, it will remove the non-RES managed start menu items for the application (path may vary – depending on the app). This is a simple example but I suggest, to keep things “right”, do a check to see if the start menu item exists before deleting.


Step 4

Time to test…

On the test machine, remove the application from the Application Jukebox Player and refresh your workspace so the RES managed shortcut to the application shows up.


Navigate to the RES managed shortcut and open the application, you should see that the Jukebox player streams (virtualizes) the application and then “hopefully” launches it! 


Wrap up

So there you go, a “method” of integrating both RES Workspace Manager and Numecent’s Application Jukebox. – I actually used a similar approach for App-V 5 applications before official support from RES.

So what are the benefits of this?

Well now you have the full arsenal of the all the context aware goodness in Workspace Manager, the ability to control the availability of the application based on user/group/device/location/device type and so on and a combination of each.

File type associations work (depending on the app) without having to go to the Jukebox portal to stream the app first.

User pinned start menu and taskbar shortcuts to the app now work!

A single application usage reporting view for everything!

In addition to this, roaming users (hotdesks, students, etc) don’t need to keep requesting the application on every machine they login too (especially if you use RES Service Orchestration [ITStore] which means the user only has to subscribe once) – This is something that really really really bugs me about Jukebox today.

I’ve tested several apps so far, Adobe CS6, SPSS, SolidWorks 2012 and a few others with all the RES Workspace Manager features (including zero profiles) and it seems to just work.

But as always the (current) downside is that, at the time of writing this, integration of the two products is not officially supported.

In addition to official support there is a lot of refinement each vendor could do to streamline this process, the ability to block/turn off Jukebox apps from publishing their own start menu items, not requiring the VBS script, etc.

I really hope each vendor can see the value of the other’s solution and work (quickly) to offer supported integration – I know of several customers/partners and prospective customers who want this!

Ask me any questions here or on Twitter – hope this helps…

VMware Horizon Mirage RES Automation Manager Integration

So in my previous post “VMware Horizon Mirage RES Workspace Manager Integration” I covered the simplicity of integrating Workspace Manager with Mirage…

The good news is that RES Automation Manager and Service Orchestration integrate just as seamlessly.

Again if you have integrated Automation Manager and/or Service Orchestration with VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop or even a good old sysprep deployment before then this is really nothing new.

  • Install the Automation Manager agent on the Mirage reference machine
  • Locate the agent in the Automation Manager management console and open its properties
  • Click on Prepare for Image and following the instructions (you can choose to run automation tasks when agents are first invoked).


Note that if you set a runbook/project to run when the Mirage client is “layered”, this job will run on every subsequent Mirage re-layering or layer update. – We found this useful in a hotdesk and/or student environment as we run delprof2 to clear any local user profiles or any profiles that didn’t remove properly (be nice if Mirage had an option to clean/remove local profiles).

Service Orchestration… Simple… Just install the Service Orchestration client on the reference machine, configure it to point to your environment.

So there you have it… Some more validation of how to combine the most exciting next gen deployment and management technology with the best user environment and system/service automation technology available today!

Fingers crossed our VMware Horizon Mirage business case is successful because I wouldn’t want to do it any other way!

VMware Horizon Mirage RES Workspace Manager Integration

Probably one of the best acquisitions in end point computing (in recent times) was VMware’s crafty swipe for Wanova.

In my opinion VMware Horizon Mirage (formally Wanova Mirage) is the best next generation Windows deployment and management platform in the market today.

To learn more see:

And for some more in depth info of their layering coolness see:

RES Workspace Manager
So we’re currently at the end of our pilot phase with Mirage and are now in that “anxious” Business Case phase. Like with any project you must set out clear success criteria. For us one of the key check boxes was compatibility with the RES product suite.

So the good news is that if you have integrated Workspace Manager with VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop before, it’s pretty much the same process.

Configure Workspace Manager to ‘Identify Agents By’ ‘Computer domain name and NetBIOS name’.


Simply install Workspace Manager on your Mirage reference machine as you would with your parent/golden VDI image and that’s it. Publish the base layer to your Mirage end-points and off you go.

Hardly worth blogging about I know but sometimes with something “new” people like a little validation.

Next up, VMware Horizon Mirage RES Automation Manager Integration! – Not hard either…