Category Archives: Automation

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).

ITStoreoldGUI

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:

ITStoreLogin

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).

ITStorehome

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).

ITStoredetailed

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 Lynda.com 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.

ITStorecart

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.

ITStoreHistoryICONITStoremessageICON

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).

ITStoretransactions

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

Dan.

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).

AMAgentPrepare

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!

Using RES Workspace and Automation Manager with App-V 5.0

At the time of writing this RES Workspace Manager and Automation Manager do not currently support App-V 5.0 and PowerShell 3.

This article is the work around… We are using RES WM and AM to publish and manager App-V 5 packages. I’m guessing there are other/better ways of doing this 😉

First of all using Automation Manager I created a new module called “App-V 5 Publisher”.  Within this a “Command” task (note, PowerShell 3.0 is not supported at this time).The script field has the following,

“”c:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe” “add-appvclientpackage -Path ‘$[AppPath]‘| Publish-AppvClientPackage -global | Mount-AppvClientPackage””

The ‘file extension of Script’ is the default ‘cmd’.

Note: I use a parameter called AppPath to which we pass a variable from Workspace Manager.

Under the Settings tab, I execute the command using the windows command interpreter and I specify a domain based service account with local admin access.

Note:  You need to ‘Load user profile’.

That’s all that’s required in Automation Manager.

Before the Workspace manager configuration I recommend you publish the app to your “test” machine which also has the WM management console… Un publish/remove when after the following steps.

In Workspace Manager, under Composition and Applications, create a new package (using the wizard if you prefer) and for the application path, browse/type the location of the published application (%programdata%\appv\etc\etc…

Configure the application as you would any other managed app. Note you can still use Process Interception, Zero Profiles, etc…

Under the Configuration options add a new Automation Task.

Now select the module you created in Automation Manager (above). You will be prompted to enter a parameter value for the module. Enter the path to your app-v package (Package.appv) on your content/network share.

Select ‘Skip if application executable was found’, ‘wait for task to finish before continuing’ and ‘Run before other actions’.

Click OK and ta-da, test away…

This is far from perfect but it works (for me anyway). My only recommendation at the moment would be not to publish packages with start menu/desktop shortcuts and use Workspace Manager for this. As the package is being published globally, other users of that workstation will be able to access the package (unless you implement other lockdown, etc).

It’s a start anyway!