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,
Also change the path to the Jukebox Player (if not using the x64 player).
On your admin workstation, request the desired application from the Application Jukebox portal (in this guide, I’m using IBM’s SPSS Amos).
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).
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.
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!
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…