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Posts Tagged ‘PC’

#BYOD: From optional to mandatory by 2017, says #Gartner

I agree with this great article and the analysis made by Gartner.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has for some time been gaining traction in the workplace, as not only a way of freeing up IT costs but also liberalizing workers from being virtually chained, clunky, aging machines at their desks.

But latest research from Gartner suggests that by 2017, half of employers may impose a mandatory BYOD policy — requiring staffs to bring their own laptop, tablet and smartphone to work.

As an optional policy, workplaces still have an IT fallback option, but many are choosing to bring their own tablets and smartphones to work in order to work more effectively using the technology they feel more comfortable with.

Some interesting tidbits from the research:

  • 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing workplace devices to staff by 2016. (PCs, such as desktops and laptops, are included in the definition of BYOD.)
  • BYOD is most prevalent in midsize and larger enterprises, often generating between $500m-$5bn in revenue per year, with 2,500-5,000 employees on the roster.
  • BRIC nations, such as India, China, and Brazil, will most likely already be using a personal device — typically a “standard mobile phone” — at work.
  • Meanwhile, companies in the U.S. are more likely to allow BYOD than those in Europe (likely due to stronger data protection rules, see below).
  • Around half of all BYOD programs provide a partial reimbursement, while full reimbursement costs “will become rare.”
  • Gartner vice president David Willis says companies should “subsidize only the service plan on a smartphone.”

But there’s a problem within. Those who have yet to adopt a BYOD policy often generally cite one of two good reasons (or both): interoperability and…

Continue reading 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

Latest Security Intelligence Report Shows 24 Percent of PCs are Unprotected

Interesting and scary facts from Microsoft… why not just add a simple cloud based solution like Webroot to your PC’s and Mac’s? Read more about Webroot that I think is a great product here from one of my earlier posts: 1st Test of Webroot SecureAnywhere – #Webroot, #SecureAnywhere, #BYOD

Today, Microsoft released new research as part of its Security Intelligence Report, volume 14, which takes a close look at the importance of running up-to-date antivirus software on your computer. The research showed that, on average, computers without antivirus software are 5.5 times more likely to be infected.

Antivirus software from Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec and others helps to guard against viruses, remove infections and protect your privacy. It can help protect your computer from malware trying to steal your credit card information, e-mail address book or even the files you’ve saved to your computer. It is one of the most crucial defenses computer users have to help protect against cybercriminals.

If you have been using computers as long as I have, long before almost every device was constantly connected to the Internet, you’ll recall the days when viruses were typically spread via sneaker-net, through infected floppy disks. Read more…

Windows #Intune – Toyota rolls out to more than 3000 clients

Automotive Retailer Avoids $1.3 Million in IT Costs with Cloud-Based PC Management Tool

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) had no tools to manage 3,500 car-diagnostic PCs running outside the corporate domain at 3,000 dealerships. TME chose Windows Intune to manage the PCs remotely from a web-based console. It can standardize software deployments to ensure consistent customer service and enhance the security of managed computers to reduce downtime at dealerships. Remote assistance capabilities will also help reduce on-site support costs.

Business Needs
Toyota Motor Europe (TME) manages a network of 30 national marketing and sales companies (NMSC) across Europe. These organizations oversee more than 3,000 dealerships.

In early 2012, TME replaced its stand-alone car-diagnostic tool called IT2 with 3,500 new PCs running more up-to-date software, including Tech Stream and Picoscope. The PCs also store technical documentation. Mechanics attach the PCs to a Vehicle Information Module that connects to a vehicle’s engine to provide critical maintenance information, such as how to reprogram and update a vehicle’s computer chip. The PCs were installed by an external company. The computers are not joined to the domain and operate outside the corporate firewall.

TME did not have a management solution for these 3,500 computers. “We wanted everyone to use the new tools, but we had no visibility into how the dealerships were working with the PCs,” says Niels Svaerke, Manager, Business Process Office, After Sales at Toyota Motor Europe. 

NMSC staff downloaded diagnostic software to the PCs from a Toyota intranet site. However, there was no way for headquarters to verify that all dealerships received and installed the software updates concurrently. “It was difficult to ensure that everyone was providing the same level of service by using the same corporate systems and auto diagnostics,” says Dirk Christiaens, Manager of Enterprise Architecture at Toyota Motor Europe. “Also, the head office had no way of knowing if the dealerships deployed an antivirus solution for their PCs, a worrying scenario as they were connected directly to the Internet.”

NMSC employees performed on-site support for mechanics, which often entails travel time. Sometimes, NMSC staff called an external company to reinstall all the software on the PC. Either scenario incurred wasteful downtime at the dealerships.

Solution
To solve these issues, Toyota Motor Europe decided to evaluate Windows Intune, the cloud-based PC management service from Microsoft. Staff at the NMSC can use the web-based Administration console in Windows Intune to run PC management tasks remotely, including software distribution. All that is required is a standard Internet connection, a browser running Microsoft Silverlight, and the Windows Intune client software installed on the PCs at the dealerships. The client returns information on the PC, including software and hardware inventory, and endpoint protection and update status to the Administration console.“We wanted to move into cloud computing, so Windows Intune met our needs perfectly,” says Christiaens. “Windows Intune had a more flexible, pay-as-you-go model, with no additional bandwidth or server costs.”

Read the whole case study here!

//Richard

User-centric application delivery with Microsoft System Center and the #XenApp Connector for Configuration Manager

Another good blog post from Citrix:

This week we are happy to announce the release of the XenApp Connector for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (a.k.a. Project Thor), marking the culmination of several months of collaboration between Citrix and Microsoft.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager helps IT empower people to use the devices and applications they need to be productive, while maintaining corporate compliance and control.  It provides a unified infrastructure for mobile, physical, and virtual environments that allows IT to deliver applications and manage user experiences based on identity, connectivity, and device.

More so than any previous release of Configuration Manager, the 2012 release supports the model of user-centric IT management.  The new focus of Configuration Manager is one of empowering users by putting them at the center of the IT universe; one that supports user self-service, bring-your-own-device initiatives, workforce mobility, and the overall IT consumerization trend.   We are very excited about the power this user-centric model provides and how that model is realized via integration of Configuration Manager and XenApp.

So what does the XenApp Connector do?  Put simply, it extends the reach of admins using Configuration Manager to a much broader range of devices and user locations. Historically, Configuration Manager has been used for management of Windows OS & applications deployed to Windows PCs, Windows laptops, Windows Servers and Windows Phones operating within the traditional IT periphery – in other words Active Directory domain joined machines.

The XenApp Connector and Citrix Receiver extend the reach of Configuration Manager to deliver apps not just to Windows devices but all kinds of office and mobile devices including Linux, iOS, and Android devices; in fact nearly every device on the market today..  The Connector also enables a more flexible and mobile workforce. Users are able to gain access to the applications they need regardless of whether they are in the office, working from home, or on the road.

To deliver this functionality, the XenApp Connector leverages three capabilities introduced with System Center 2012:

  • Deployment Types
  • User-centric administration, and
  • The Application Catalog

Read more…

#Microsoft #Office 2013 lockdown aims to boost cloud services

February 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Microsoft Office 2013 lockdown aims to boost cloud services

If a computer dies, so does the Office license, unless you have enterprise deals

Microsoft has confirmed that a retail copy of Office 2013 is permanently tied to the first PC on which it’s installed, preventing customers from deleting the suite from one machine they own and installing it on another.

The move is a change from past Office end-user licensing agreements (EULAs), experts said, and is another way Microsoft is pushing customers, especially consumers, to opt for new “rent-not-own” subscription plans.

“That’s a substantial shift in Microsoft licensing,” said Daryl Ullman, co-founder and managing director of the Emerset Consulting Group, which specializes in helping companies negotiate software licensing deals. “Let’s be frank. This is not in the consumer’s best interest. They’re paying more than before, because they’re not getting the same benefits as before.”

Prior to Office 2013, which debuted last month, Microsoft’s EULA for retail copies of Office plainly stated that customers could reassign a license when, for example, they replaced an aged PC with a newer model, or the original machine gave out.

“You may reassign the license to a different device any number of times, but not more…

Continue reading here

//Richard

Tablets are crushing PC sales, Gartner finds

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Don’t blame Windows 8 or the economy for poor PC sales, analyst says

People are buying tablets to replace old PCs, which explains why PC sales were so dismal over the holidays, according to Gartner.

Small, portable, capable, inexpensive, touchscreen tablets grab sales from low-end PCs and mean that old PCs will not be replaced with new ones, says Mikako Kitagawa, a Gartner principal analyst, and that is a significant change in how PC sales work.

“Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC,” Kitagawa says.

“This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device.”

That is the battle Windows 8 is fighting, Gartner says, although the scarcity of Windows 8 touch devices may so far have hampered sales. With new touch machines being promised for later this year, that may help Windows 8 grab a larger share of PC sales but not help the overall number of PCs sold, Gartner says.

Sales were down 4.9% in Q4 2012 compared to Q4 2011, Gartner says, which goes along with IDC numbers from last week, although IDC’s number, 6.4%, is larger. “During the holiday season, consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item,” Gartner said…

Continue to read here!

//Richard

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