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Posts Tagged ‘Computer’

Microsoft is progressing quickly! – SkyDrive Pro updated to 25GB and improved sharing – via @BasvanKaam

I must say this once again, Microsoft looks to be on the right track when it comes to getting back as one strong supplier of services in the future/present “BYOD” world. As I wrote in my post #Microsoft – On the right track! – #Windows, #BYOD, #Citrix now Microsoft is actually targeting to solve many of the gaps that we see with today services for BYOx scenarios. For instance how to manage what you want on top of the device (Azure, Intune, SkyDrive, Work Folders etc…) in a controllable fashion and not a full managed device that costs you a fortune to manage… and ShareFile, Box and others are great solutions that have many features that SkyDrive doesn’t have. But there is one thing that they all lack (or please enlighten me!!):

Encryption at rest on Windows, OS X and Linux OS’s/distributions, here all providers are leaning on that you already have hard drive encryption like BitLocker etc. But who manages that then? Can you then say that your service is “BYOD-compliant”? I wouldn’t say so… It’s not only SmartPhones and Tablet devices that we loose… but here Microsoft and SkyDrive may be the first to come with encryption on at least Windows 8.1 devices and somewhat manageable…

But again back to the announcement from Microsoft and SkyDrive:

Microsoft announced today that it is giving business users more storage space and a better way to share files across multiple devices. As first reported by TechCrunch, through its SkyDrive Pro accounts, employees will now receive 25GB of storage to start out with, a sharp increase from 7GB — and even this capacity can be increased to 50GB or even 100GB. Additionally, using SkyDrive’s Shared with Me view, users can share files with their friends and co-workers securely and in real-time.

According to Microsoft Senior Product Managers Mark Kashman and Tejas Mehta, the new storage space limits will be available for both new and existing customers.

This certainly makes the service standout among its competitors, namely Dropbox and Box. It was only about a week or so ago when the latter heralded in the launch of a new pricing plan aiming to increase the number of small businesses using its service. For personal users, Box also wound up doubling the amount of free storage they received.

Here’s how you can figure out the overall storage for each user:

With Office 365, you get 25 GB of SkyDrive Pro storage + 25 GB of  email storage + 5 GB for each site mailbox you create + your total available tenant storage, which for every Office 365 business customer starts at 10 GB + (500 MB x # of user(s)1).

While Dropbox, Box, and Hightail certainly are some of the popular services out there today, SkyDrive isn’t something to be trifled with either. Through its integration with the Surface, Windows Phone, and other Microsoft products, along with iOS and Android devices, it has the potential to be a very powerful service.

As for the new sharing feature, just like you would perhaps see in Google Drive or any other cloud storage service, SkyDrive Pro is now offering a Shared with Me view that lets you take a shared document and view, edit, re-share, download, and more — all as if it were in your own storage bin.

1106.SDP shared with me 2.png 550x0 Microsoft updates SkyDrive Pro for businesses, now with 25GB of space, better file sharing, and more

But Microsoft isn’t stopping there, as it is adding several minor, but interesting enhancements to SkyDrive. The company has also increased the overall file upload limit to its SharePoint Online service to 2GB per file. Files placed into the recycle bin will now remain…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

A look at Work Folders – #Microsoft, #WorkFolders, #MIM, #BYOD – via @STEALTHPUPPY

This is an interesting new feature by Microsoft. I’ve touched upon the topic in my earlier post: #Microsoft – On the right track! – #Windows, #BYOD, #Citrix

And here you have another good blog post from Aaron Parker around the topic!

Microsoft announced some interesting new features in Windows Server 2012 R2 at TechEd 2013 and one of those that piqued my interest is Work Folders. I’m not the biggest fan of Redirected Folders and Offline files, but it’s essentially the only enterprise solution Microsoft provides today for taking your data offline. Microsoft needs to provide a completely new method of syncing file data – one that is designed for todays use cases and computing environment.

Work Folders is a brand new direction for enabling access to data in offline scenarios, along the lines of Citrix ShareFile and Dropbox, but without the web and sharing features. Like most Microsoft OS features, Work Folders is tied to a specific release of Windows; however according to this Channel 9 video, Microsoft will release Work Folders for Windows 7, iOS and “other devices” (presumably Android). This is excellent news.

Here’s a short look at setting up and connecting to Work Folders using the preview releases of Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 – what’s version 1.0 going to deliver?

Server Configuration

For a more detailed walkthrough on deploying Work Folders, download this document: Windows Server 2012 R2: Enabling Windows Server Work Folders.

Work Folders is a component of the File and Storage Services role in Windows Server. I’ve installed Windows Server 2012 R2 into a virtual machine and am using local storage.

WorkFolders-InstallRole

Once installed, Work Folders is managed through Server Manager:

WorkFolders-ServerManager

Creating a new sync share is performed via a wizard which will first ask where the Sync Share will be located. This can be a new folder or an existing share – mixing user home drives and Work Folders should be possible. Note that at this time, Work Folders only supports providing users with exclusive access to Sync Share location – there is no provision for providing access to shared data. Read more…

Remote Desktop Services are now allowed on #Windows #Azure – #RDS, #TS, #XenDesktop

This is a great thing that you should have a look at and investigate how it would fit you and your organization! Finally Microsoft has changed the license model! They still have some work to be done on it though so we can run Virtual Desktops (VDI’s) as well!! 😉

Read this great blog post from lpanzano:

I’ve not seen a lot of news about this so I thought it was worth writing a short post just to remember everyone that on July 1st, Microsoft has officially changed Windows Azure licensing terms (PUR) to allow the use of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Previously this scenario was not allowed in Windows Azure. Before July 1st you could only access an Azure Windows Server VM for purpose of server administration or maintenance (up to 2 simultaneous sessions are authorized for this service).

Let’s see some details about this change:

  • To enable more than 2 simultaneous sessions you will need to purchase RDS Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs) through the Microsoft Services Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) for each user or device that will access your solution on Windows Azure. SPLA is separate from an Azure agreement and is contracted through an authorized SPLA resellerClick here for more information about SPLA benefits and requirements.
  • RDS Client Access Licenses (CALs) purchased from Microsoft VL programs such as EA, do not get license mobility to shared cloud platforms, hence they cannot be used on Azure.
  • Windows ‘Client’ OS (e.g. Windows 8) virtual desktops, or VDI deployments, will continue to not be allowed on Azure, because Windows client OS product use rights prohibit such use on multi-tenant/shared cloud environments.
  • Customers can use 3rd party application hosting products that require RDS sessions functionality (e.g. Citrix XenDesktop), subject to product use terms set by those 3rd party providers, and provided these products leverage only RDS session-hosting (Terminal Services) functionality. Note that RDS SALs are still required when using these 3rd party products.

Continue reading this post here!

Citrix also created a good blog post on their view of the top 5 scenarios for putting XenDesktop on Azure:

Top 5 Scenarios for XenDesktop on Windows Azure

Since Windows Azure launched I have looked forward to the day Citrix would be able to work jointly with Microsoft to support XenDesktop and XenApp workloads. We are excited that today is the day we announce support for XenDesktop 7 and XenApp 6.5 on Windows Azure. Customers can now take advantage of the leading Citrix desktop virtualization solution and all of the HDX user experience goodness on Microsoft’s leading public cloud. With the announcement we’ve published two design guides (here andhere) to help get you started with your deployments.

Read more…

Upgrading to #Citrix #Receiver for #Windows – why and how?

This is something that all Citrix admins should read! How many questions don’t U get about which version of the client to use and why etc?

This document describes the various versions of Receivers for Windows, lists the reasons for upgrading, and recommends best practices for upgrading to the latest version of Receiver based on specific circumstances.

Note: The Online Plug-in 12.x will reach end of its maintenance in March 2013. Customers using Online Plug-in with XenApp 5, XenApp 6.x, XenDesktop 4.x, or XenDesktop 5.x must upgrade to the latest version of Receiver for Windows 3.X prior to that date where practical.

Citrix Receiver is the latest Citrix software you install on Windows end points to gain access to virtualized apps and desktops. It is also regularly installed on virtual desktops to enable access to virtualized apps.

The name of Citrix client software and the built-in functions are changed over the years. The clients in common use today are the Online Plug-in for Windows 12.X and the Receiver for Windows 3.X.

Where the Online Plug-in for Windows 12.X provided Web and PNAgent support, Receiver for Windows 3.X provides additional support. It can be configured for self-service access to applications, VPN-less remote access, single sign-on the Windows, Web, and SaaS applications, and has a built-in method to check for updates.

Both the Online Plug-in and Receiver have two versions.

  • The Online Plug-in Web is used solely for Web access to applications and the Online Plug-in (Full) supports Web access as well as PNA Services. The Full version supported SSO, Smart Cards, and access to apps through the Start menu 
    The standard Receiver for Windows, CitrixReceiver.exe, can be considered is a complete replacement for the Online Plug-in Web and largely a replacement for the Online Plug-in (Full). It can be used for web access. It can be configured to access PNA Services. And it can also be used with the latest versions of StoreFront, CloudGateway (App Controller), and Access Gateway to provide a rich set of services. It contains the latest, multithread, multi-stream HDX engine.

  • The CitrixReceiverEnterprise.exe version essentially…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

WOW! – MS readies ‘Mohoro’ Windows desktop as a service – #BYOD, #DaaS – via @brianmadden

What can you say!?!? It wouldn’t surprise me a bit!! Of course Microsoft would come out with an Azure based cloud offerings of Desktops as a Service! I will follow this progress for sure, interesting and NOT so nice for quite a number of partners out there…

SummaryMicrosoft is believed to be building a Windows Azure-hosted desktop virtualization service that could be available on a pay-per-use basis.

In yet another example of its growing emphasis on remaking itself as a devices and services company, Microsoft looks to be developing a pay-per-use “Windows desktop as a service” that will run on Windows Azure.

msdesktopvirtualizationstack

The desktop virtualization service, codenamed Mohoro, is in a very early development phase, from what I’ve heard from sources. I don’t know the final launch target, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t until the second half of 2014.

Mohoro is a town located on the island of Grande Comore in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. Given that members of the Microsoft India Development Center may be playing a key role in Mohoro’s development, according to my sources, the codename choice seems appropriate.

Microsoft owns the Mohoro.com and Mohoro.Net domain names.

Mohoro, like another Windows service, Windows Intune, is a product of Microsoft’s Server and Tools unit, I hear. Windows Intune is still not yet hosted on Windows Azure (as far as I know), but supposedly the plan is to move it to Azure at some point. Windows Intune already does make use of Windows Azure Active Directory as its directory and authentication service.

The same way that Windows Intune is the cloud complement to System Center, Mohoro seems to be the cloud version of Remote Desktop/Remote App. 

This is like “Remote App as a hosted service,” said one of my contacts. It could be for companies who want thin clients or to run legacy apps on new PCs. Right now, companies have to have their own servers in the equation to do this, but “with Mohoro, you click a few buttons, deploy your apps, use Intune to push out configuration to all of your company’s devices, and you’re done,” my contact added. 

Microsoft currently offers multiple ways for users to access their Windows desktops remotely via different virtualization technologies and products.

The aforementioned Remote App/Remote Desktop allows Windows users to connect to a remote Windows PC and access resources from it. On the Windows RT front, given that operating system’s restrictions on use of almost any existing Win32 applications, Remote Desktop provides a way for users to continue to use apps they already have on new hardware like the Microsoft Surface RT. Licensing of Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Services is complex, however, and requires access to server infrastructure on the back-end.

Currently, it is not possible under Microsoft’s licensing terms to run Windows client in virtual machines hosted on Windows Azure. (The new Azure VMs do allow…

Continue to read this great blog post by Mary Jo Foley here!

//Richard

Simplified VDI Architecture – #Citrix, #XenDesktop

This is a great start of a blog series from Citrix!

There’s a perception that VDI is complicated.  I’m far from being a rocket scientist, and I’ve managed to implement many successful VDI projects over the past ten years.  I truly believe that VDI is one of those things that is only as complicated as you make it.

It’s like saying that driving is complicated.  You’d have to be crazy [or very brave] to take your first lesson in Manhattan…during rush hour.  That’s why your driving instructor starts you off on a quiet street.  You need to know your boundaries.  Being successful with VDI is the same – keep things simple to start with and slowly increase complexity at your own pace, when you’re ready for it.

This raises the question – what’s the quiet street equivalent of a beginner’s VDI architecture?  It might not be the most optimized and efficient solution, but it would be quick to implement, do the job well and wouldn’t require specialist knowledge or skills.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’d like to share my thoughts.

There’s a lot to consider, so I’m going to break this up over four different blog posts:

  1. Simplified VDI Architecture – Introduction & FlexCast
  2. Simplified VDI Architecture – Storage
  3. Simplified VDI Architecture – Provisioning
  4. Simplified VDI Architecture – Reference Architecture

Martin Zugec will be helping me out with this blog series and will be referring to his experience on actual customer projects that followed many of these recommendations.

XenDesktop or VDI in a Box?

First up, you need to make a decision on VDI in a Box or XenDesktop.  VDI in a Box is easier to setup but does have some limitations.  Check out Allen Furmanski’s excellent blog post for guidance on how to make this decision.  I’m going to concentrate on XenDesktop for this post.

FlexCast

Although each FlexCast model has its own unique advantages, each additional model included adds complexity to the overall project.  There is a great table in the Virtual Desktop Handbook (FlexCast Model Selection – Table 11) that provides guidance on the capabilities of each model.  The main thing to note is that all scenarios, apart from offline, can be accommodated using the Hosted VDI model (XenDesktop), either with or without a Personal vDisk.  It may not be the optimal selection in every instance, but it is almost always a viable solution.

There are a number of reasons why I think that XenDesktop is simpler than XenApp, including:

  1. Desktop applications are developed to run on desktop operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows 7.  There aren’t many developers that test their applications on Windows Server 2003 or 2008.  Therefore, you’re far less likely to run into application issues with XenDesktop than you are with XenApp.  Even if your applications run okay on 2008 with XenApp, you’re probably going to have issues getting support from the application vendors.
  2. Hosting applications on multi-user operating systems can introduce additional application compatibility challenges.  Users may share the same configuration files and registry hives, especially if the applications are not multi-user aware.  This means that one user may change a setting that affects all other users of that server.  There are a ton of tips and tricks to get these apps working correctly but we want to keep things simple and choosing XenDesktop helps us achieve this goal.
  3. As multiple users are hosted on the same operating system, it is important that XenApp desktops are locked down to prevent security breaches and misconfiguration that could impact all users sharing the environment. Typically, this results in an extremely controlled and restricted user experience, hindering user satisfaction and acceptance.
  4. With XenApp desktops, a single user can consume a disproportionate amount of resources, impacting the performance of other users sharing the same XenApp server.  XenDesktop, on the other hand, allows vCPU and RAM assignments to be controlled on a per-user basis.  For this reason, I strongly recommend that heavy users are hosted on XenDesktop rather than XenApp.
  5. With XenDesktop, it is possible to provide users with fully personalized desktops.  This includes the ability for users to install their own applications.
  6. Unlike XenApp, XenDesktop supports generic USB redirection:

I’m a huge fan of Remote PC, especially when you consider just how simple it is to deploy.  However, there are some things Remote PC just can’t do, including:

  • You don’t have the flexibility to quickly provision or de-provision desktops based on business demands.
  • Image management is more complicated than a virtual desktop because you can’t use MCS and PVS can be challenging with desktops outside of the data center
  • You need to have a good connection between your XenDesktop Controllers and the physical desktops.  Something not always available for WAN users.

Regardless, Remote PC is a great solution in many scenarios.  Consider deploying Remote PC at the very start of your project.  It allows you to realize immediate value while you’re designing and implementing your full VDI solution.

If XenDesktop is so much simpler why do so many projects still standardize on XenApp?  It all comes down to cost – XenApp offers significantly higher levels of scalability than XenDesktop (some sources quote 300% more users).  Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Processor

The Virtual Desktop Handbook provides us with guidelines on processor requirements for both XenApp and XenDesktop (Processor Requirements by Workload – Table 22):

If processor is the bottleneck, we can estimate the scalability of XenApp and XenDesktop for a fairly typical server configuration (2×8 cores):

As you can see, XenApp offers between 17% (heavy user) and 28% (light user) more users than XenDesktop – but nowhere near 300%!  Let’s put this into context, if you had 1,000 concurrent normal users, you would need seven physical servers for ‘XenDesktop: Windows 7’ and six physical servers for ‘XenApp: 2008 R2’.  Is one additional server per ~1,000 users enough to justify the additional complexity of XenApp?

RAM

For RAM, the Virtual Desktop Handbook table (Memory Requirements by Workload – Table 23) shows us that ‘XenDesktop: Windows 7’ requires significantly…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

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